In his annual audit of Blanco Independent School District’s finances, Keith Neffendorf of Neffendorf, Knopp, Doss & Associates, P. C. reported that the district is “in good financial shape” in spite of a small decrease in the fund balance last year. He explained that the purpose of an audit is to give an opinion on the financial reports of the district, which he said are correct. He praised the district for planning for a deficit in funding, which turned out to be less than budgeted and thanked Business Manager Kay Fraser and Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford for their cooperation during the audit process. Sixty-four percent of the district’s funding comes from local taxes, he reported, as opposed to approximately fifty percent a few years ago. Trustees voted unanimously to approve the audit.
Kay Fraser also presented an annual review of the district’s investment policy, in accordance with the Public Funds Investment Act. On the advice of the district’s investment broker, the district has been using excess funds to invest in municipal bonds, resulting in an equal balance of funds in Lone Star Investments and in bonds. Fraser said, “We are hoping to get some interest” from these investments. Trustees approved the investment policy review resolution as well as a budget amendment which increases the Education Jobs Grant by $4,627.000 to a total of $204,028.00 per approval from TEA dated December 7, 2011. These funds are used to pay salaries for teachers. Trustees also approved TASB Policy Update 92, which deals with revisions to Reductions in Force (RIF) policies resulting from “financial exigencies” or a change in programs.
Responding to concerns of trustees concerning a detention pond to be incorporated into the elementary school renovation project, civil engineer Terry Hagood brought drawings of the site showing how rainwater runoff will be channeled into a bermed area, where it will soak into the soil rather than immediately draining off the property into adjoining areas. When impervious cover is added, the discharge of water off the site increases, he explained, although the removal of some structures will decrease impervious cover in some areas. The goal is to capture water from as much of the site as possible. Hagood explained that Blanco’s Unified Development Code, based on guidelines of the city of Austin, addresses storm water drainage, although the original site is grandfathered because it predates the UDC. Multiple small pipes will exit the bermed area, dispersing runoff. Blanco Public Works director Nathan Cantrell spoke to trustees, expressing concerns that the nearby Masonic Lodge property has recently added French drains because of flooding issues. “The existing impervious cover is grandfathered, but construction will increase impervious cover and drainage. Will the berm contain it?” he questioned. President Matt Herden stressed that the school district and the city need to work together, and Cantrell responded that the city respects the work and design of the civil engineer but will not be liable for any flooding that might possibly occur. In response to trustee questions about whether the bermed area will be usable for students, Hagood said that it will be a grassy area with a low berm that can be used for other activities and will be relatively easy to mow and maintain. After some discussion, trustees reached a consensus that a longer, lower berm is preferable.
The Spotlight on Students portion of the meeting featured Blanco High School band members Rebecca Dowlearn and Echoe Burkhart, who competed in ATSSB All-Region band tryouts November 28 at Navarro High School (see December 7 Blanco County News story). Dowlearn, a trumpet player, and Burkhart, a trombone player, were both selected for All-Region Band; and Burkhart will advance to Area Competition January 7 for a spot in the Texas All-State Band.
In the Spotlight on District Personnel, Blanco Elementary principal Sue Ann Reininger introduced front office staff members Belinda Delgado and Allison Dowdy. “They run the school,” she said. “They know everything—the bus routes, where everyone lives. They do an awesome job.” Reininger also presented certificates to Pre-K teachers Sharon Cox, Tammy San Miguel, Marilyn Bowman, and aide Angie Sandoval for their part in earning a grant from the Children’s Learning Institute for meeting the requirements as Certified Classrooms, “best preparing children for kindergarten.”
Technology Director Tom Cozzi reported that the network is “the most robust it’s ever been” with almost 400 computers “all going at the same time.” Next year the district will switch to the GVTC network to get high-speed fiber-optic lines, said Cozzi; in fact, the lines are already being run. Property near Blanco Elementary School will house the GVTC facility. Cozzi also explained the Erate Procedure for Technology, a federal grant program. The district fills out a form online to choose which providers to use and another form to get reimbursement. In September the reimbursement checks arrive—over $300,000 in the past five years—to reinvest into the technology program. One program which the district uses is Netspective, a filtering program, which can be monitored by Cozzi. YouTube, Facebook, and eBay are blocked, except when a teacher requests to use a YouTube segment in the classroom.
In his Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Ford announced the results of the Blanco County Appraisal District elections. Both BISD nominees Dr. David Behrends and Lynn Ford were elected, as well as Will Masarek, Brenda Adair, and Will Shelton. Their terms will commence January 2012, and they will be sworn in before the first meeting in March.
Dr. Ford also updated trustees on the progress in construction of the Maintenance/Transportation Facility. In spite of weather delays in beginning construction, the parking lot is almost completed, and fencing will be installed next. The actual construction of the building should take one to two weeks, according to Dr. Ford. A TASB Winter Governance and Legal Seminar for trustees will be held in Corpus Christi February 16-18, 2012, and rooms have been reserved for trustees, said Ford. A special trustees’ meeting will be held January 16, 2012, at 7 p.m., at which Tom Rehak of Vanguard Contractors will offer a guaranteed maximum price for the Blanco Elementary renovation/construction project. The change of date from December will enable Vanguard to get in touch with subcontractors to get the best prices.
Finally, the Board Member Training Report was made public, reflecting the number of required training hours each trustee has accrued during the year. The numbers are as follows: Matt Herden, 0.00; Bernie San Miguel, 9.50; Charles Riley, 0.00; Troy Immel, 11.75; Kirk Felps, 10.00, Darrel Wagner, 9.75; and Tim Nance, 17.50. Trustees have until the election May 12, 2012, to complete training for the year.