In the Spotlight portion of the October 8 meeting of the Blanco Independent School District Trustees, Blanco High School principal Dustin Barton honored agriculture teachers Jason and Felice Marek. Jason has taught at Blanco High School for 21 years, his wife Felice for 20. Their accomplishments include sponsoring one of the largest FFA chapters in the state, with 152 members this year. They have over 300 animal projects on feed each year for county and major livestock shows, according to Barton, and have won sweepstakes in leadership and career development events for eleven consecutive years. Through the years they have qualified over 150 teams for state and 15 for nationals. Under their guidance, FFA members average more than $75,000 in scholarships each year.
Since October is Principals’ Month, Dr. Buck Ford read a proclamation from Governor Rick Perry honoring principals and presented certificates to two of Blanco ISD’s three principals—high school principal Dustin Barton and elementary principal Linda Romano. Middle school principal Bill Luna was not present. Trustee Matt Herden added, “I’ve been getting good reports on our principals—they’re doing a great job.”
Curriculum Director Kathy Anderson gave trustees an update on the district’s staff development program. “We invest heavily in staff development,” she said. “It is an investment in quality education for our students.” Staff development opportunities include the annual Teacher Institute, which was held on August 21st, with topics suggested by teachers. Presentations included topics such as C-Scope, use of technology including Nook Tablets, and health and wellness issues. Marcia Tate, the keynote speaker at a C-Scope conference last June was so well-received that Anderson invited her to come to a staff development conference in Blanco next year. Teachers are also being trained in the social studies C-Scope program in preparation for more rigorous mandated social studies tests. Various modes of staff development utilized by Blanco ISD staff and teachers include distance learning, webinars, satellite training at four campuses in Region 13, and training time built into the school day at early-morning faculty meetings. There is also ongoing training focused on special groups such as ELL, dyslexic, and gifted and talented students.
Business manager Kay Fraser updated trustees on the school lunch program, which has a $450,000 budget and serves 633 lunches and 243 breakfasts each day. The cost of meals is $2.35 for students in grades K-5 and $2.60 for those in grades 6-12. New federal nutritional guidelines have been instituted as of July 2012, and Fraser said the district has been notified that they will be among the first audited for compliance. Districts must meet the new requirements for increased fruits, grains, and vegetables, and reduced proteins, trans fats, and sodium. The district must be certified before receiving subsidies. Fraser added that although fresh and frozen items are more expensive, the subsidy will not increase. The new guidelines fit into the middle school CATCH program, which encourages healthy food choices.
Menus at the high school include sandwiches, salads, wraps, and two hot entrees each day. “We are here to serve our kids,” emphasized Fraser, who added that there is more “home cooking” this year. She said that students who come from families that have home-cooked meals are adjusting to the new guidelines better than those who are used to a fast-food diet. Trustee Darrel Wagner asked Dustin Barton if athletes get enough to eat under the new guidelines, and he responded that coaches have started eating in the cafeteria for the first time this year and that he eats there every day. “Students are enjoying the choices,” he added. There is a new staff of food service workers, concluded Fraser, and a chef has been hired. Matt Herden praised their efforts, saying “Hats off to the staff for coordinating all of that.”
Project Manager Joel Benjegerdes of Vanguard Contractors gave trustees a monthly update on the elementary school expansion and renovation project. The new cafeteria is still scheduled to be operational after the Thanksgiving holiday, with doors now in the building and finishes such as epoxy and tile floors to be completed in the next 30 days. Cafeteria staff will be trained on the use of the new equipment prior to its opening. Photos taken in late September show exterior wainscoting on the exterior of the west classroom wing and windows installed. The ice and water shield at ground level will allow interior painting to begin. Interior sheetrock has been installed, taped, and floated, and the doors have been painted. The east classroom wing, which is slightly behind in construction, has its ice and water shield installed and rock work on one exterior side. Within the next 30 days, the original “Old Yellow” building will have structural steel work completed. ADA-compliant ramps have been poured from that building down to the cafeteria.
As mandated by the Texas Education Agency, a public meeting was held to explain the district’s Financial Integrity Rating. Kay Fraser explained the 2010-11 recently released results, which gave BISD a Superior Achievement Rating of 66, out of a possible 70 points, based on a number of indicators.
In other business, trustees approved the sale of a 1995 seventy-one passenger school bus to the highest bidder, Krause Bus Sales, for $2,759. Matt Herden commented that it was a good price based on previous sales of older buses by the district. Trustees also approved a recommendation to approve a resolution to sanction the 4-H organization as an extracurricular activity. This resolution would allow the district to receive state funding when students are out of the classroom at a 4-H event.
Due to resignations, trustees appointed two new members to the School Health Advisory Council—Blanco Middle School principal Bill Luna and parent Dawn Barnett. Finally, trustees approved TASB Policy Update 95 and a budget amendment to open supply line items intended for principal discretionary spending for student success and upgrades the band program. It also budgets delinquent tax collections to the anticipated amount.
Since there was no executive session, the meeting was adjourned.