As part of the Blanco Elementary School construction and renovation project, a cornerstone honoring the Masonic Lodge has been erected in front of the original Alamo-style school building. The Masons originally purchased the property to build a school and donated the stones that are part of the building. Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford announced at Monday night’s BISD trustees’ meeting that a ceremony to dedicate the cornerstone will be held Thursday, November 15, 11 a.m. at the elementary school. Dr. Ford also reported that the school district has met the Highly-Qualified teacher requirement mandated as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
The Spotlight portion of the meeting honored students at Blanco Elementary, Blanco Middle School, and middle school teacher Stephanie Taylor. BES principal Linda Romano introduced members of the fifth grade safety patrol as follows: Bowie Wyatt, Camila Miranda, Kade Kneese, Ashtyn Hunt, Luke Biggs, Malinda Campbell, Christian Flores, Nuri Lopez, Heather Biggs, Hunter West, Kinidi Moore, Delaney Munoz, Marcela Alegria, Taylor Royce, and Maiya Keuetz. “Whether it is rainy, hot, or freezing cold, they are out there,” said Romano. “They are so dedicated and responsible.” She also introduced students who are members of both the safety patrol and student council—Kyla Davis, Shelby Greene, Addy Seymour, Mitchell Barnett, Hayden Riba, Kevin Peyton, Landry Rogers, and Kelton Marek-- commending them for their leadership in organizing a food drive which has collected over 500 food items to date. “They are a big decision-making group,” she concluded. Finally, Romano introduced two fourth grade students, Anna Beliveau and Shanon O’Neill, who performed a song they had composed about heroes.
Blanco Middle School principal Bill Luna recognized members of the student council—Brandon Phipps, Joe Mac Wyatt, Mia Albrecht, Alexis Bates, Taylor Kotfas, Casidy Wagner, Montana Wiseman, Johathan Campbell, and Skylar Wiseman—who he said “take time to see the needs of students and project a positive image for the community.” Montana read a list of student-council sponsored activities, including participation in the Veterans’ Day parade, organizing a canned food drive, collecting toys for Toys for Tots, and a planned Go Green recycling effort. He also recognized sixth grader Taylor Kotfas for her prize-winning essay on wildflowers as part of the HEB-sponsored Read Three project. Finally, Luna commended middle school reading teacher and UIL sponsor Stephanie Taylor, who he said “will show them how it’s done in Blanco” in upcoming UIL competitions. He praised her for all the additional hours she puts in beyond her normal teaching duties.
Curriculum Specialist Kathy Anderson updated trustees on the use of the C-Scope program, which was begun five years ago and is now being used in 888 districts in Texas to align curriculum in grades K-12. She said that transfer students benefit from the program because there are no gaps in their instruction. Aligning C-Scope with STAAR testing will also help with scores, she added. Principals Dustin Barton and Bill Luna explained how periodic assessments help teachers see weak areas for students so that the material can be re-taught. The online program now includes a Parent Portal so that parents can reinforce concepts at home.
Principals from all three schools reported how they are helping to meet the district goal of ensuring “effective communication between the District and its students, parents, employees, media, and the community as a whole.” Efforts include Public Schools Week, newsletters, a parent comtract in elementary school which parents and teachers sign, parent conferences, e-mails, Character Awards nights at the elementary school, a planned community walking trail at the middle school, and open houses. Principal Dustin Barton thanked the Blanco County News for its support in publicizing school and achievements and Dr. Ford for his work on the weekly e-newsletter “The Bell.”
In other business, trustees approved the application for an expedited waver for three staff development days in lieu of student instruction for the next two school years. Dr. Ford explained the rationale for the waiver is that it will allow staff to be trained in educational strategies to improve student performance.
A second waiver approved by trustees deals with the timeline provided for additional instruction for students who have failed three administrations of state assessment reading and/or math tests in grades 5 and 8. The Student Success Initiative states that “a student may advance to or be placed in the next grade only if (1) he or she completes all accelerated instruction required by the grade placement committee, and (2) the GPC determines by unanimous decision that the student is likely to perform at grade level at the end of the next school year given additional accelerated instruction during the course of the year.” The district can be granted a waiver if certain conditions are met, including “identifying and documenting the intensive instruction a student needs, targeting this instruction to test objectives in which the student was weak, and ensuring that this instruction is completed during the first six weeks of school. In addition to this intensive accelerated instruction, districts must develop an accelerated instruction plan that will provide the student with ongoing instructional support during the entire school year.”
Finally, trustees also approved the following items: A resolution authorizing the tax resale of a piece of property in Lake of the Hills, which was struck from the tax rolls in 1989, for $750 and a voluntary in-service for all employees on December 21, 2012, after early-release of students. After discussion in closed session, trustees accepted the resignation of kindergarten teacher Jennifer Hernandez, effective at the Thanksgiving break. The position is currently posted on the district website.