Auditor Keith Neffendorf gave a summary of the 2011-12 Annual Financial and Compliance Report for the Blanco Independent School District to trustees at their December 10 meeting. He thanked Business Manager Kay Fraser and Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford for their cooperation in the preparation of the report, saying the district “had a good year” with total net assets of $11,569,555, up $1 million from 2011.
He added that the assets are a good thing, since the 2013 Texas Legislature will probably continue its trend of shifting the funding of schools to the local districts. Trustee President Matt Herden complained about the unfunded mandates from the state, comparing them to being invited to dinner by a Texas legislator, who then disappears, leaving the district to pick up the check.
In other financial business, trustees voted to approve renewal of the contract with the firm of Linebarger, Goggan, Blair, and Sampson, LLP, for delinquent tax collection services. According to the contract, the collection fee of the firm is 15 percent of all taxes, penalties, and interest.
Attorney Jeffrey Garcia gave trustees an update on their tax collection services, explaining that filing a lawsuit to collect taxes is the last resort for the district. The tax code gives the district the liberty to sell the properties as it sees fit in order to get them back on the tax rolls. Trustees were given a packet with five properties, which will be sold by sealed bids after January 1, 2013.
The properties will be published for three weeks in both the Blanco County News and the Johnson City Record Courier, with a deadline of February 1 for submitting bids. Packets will be available at the BISD administrative office, the appraisal district office, and at the attorneys’ offices.
Garcia said collections as of June 2012 totaled $345,000 for 2012.
Business Manager Kay Fraser gave trustees an annual review of the district’s investment policy, as required by the Public Funds Investment Act. She explained that, with the help of an investment broker, the district invests in the Lone Star Investment Pool, various securities, commercial CD’s, bonds from other school districts, and airport bonds. Interest from last year’s investments was $65,000.
“We are very happy with our investment broker,” concluded Fraser.
In his Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Buck Ford announced two upcoming early release days for students. On December 12 school will be dismissed at 12 noon to allow Blanco Middle School to host a District UIL Contest. On December 21, school will be dismissed at 1 p.m. for the beginning of the Christmas holidays. District employees will attend a three-hour voluntary in-service workshop that day. However, trustees voted to approve an addendum providing an alternative in-service for employees who are absent for the December 21 date by reason of absence.
Joel Benjegerdes of Vanguard Contractors updated trustees on the progress of the Blanco Elementary School construction and renovation project, showing photos taken November 28. The new cafeteria, which became operational after the Thanksgiving break, now is surrounded by sod, which gives a finished look.
The west classroom wing has the mechanical/electrical/plumbing (MEP) rough-in work 90 percent complete and the gypsum board 98 percent complete. A photo of the wing shows the low stone wall which will frame the perimeter of the complex. Within the next 90 days, the interiors of the west wing will be 50 percent complete.
In the east classroom wing, the framing is complete and the MEP rough-in is 80 percent complete, with the interiors scheduled to be 25 percent complete within the next 30 days. The original mission-style building (OYB) will undergo major construction in the next 30 days, with the roof framing and installation of windows to be complete, and the metal roof, interior wall framing, and MEP rough-in to be 50 percent complete. Benjegerdes praised the efforts of Technology Director Tom Cozzi for coordinating the installation of the fiber-optic network with construction.
In his technology update Cozzi explained that the OYB will be the heart of the network; hence the importance of getting it under roof.
Trustees approved the purchase of 100 new computers from M and A Technology for $67,000. The price includes delivery, set-up, and a lifetime warranty on computers and parts. Cozzi explained that the computers, to be installed in the library, technology lab, science lab, library, and individual classrooms, come already programmed for students to use. The ratio of student to computer is two-to-one at the elementary and middle schools, with a higher proportion of computers at the high school. The fiber-optic network will provide a 20-megabyte internet connection.
“Fiber is the key,” said Cozzi. Eight exterior security cameras will also be installed. He praised the work of Maintenance Director Tony Petri and his staff, who have done a “perfect” job in their installation of technology wiring.
The cost of the state-of-the-art technology is alleviated by grants through E-Rate, which has reimbursed the district $90,765.
The December Spotlight on Students focused on the Blanco High School cross-country team. Principal Dustin Barton praised the team for being self-motivated and “going the extra mile,” getting up to start running at 6:30 a.m.
“I have a soft spot in my heart for runners,” admitted Barton, a runner himself. He recognized regional qualifiers Brett Lea Nance and Breanna Collins, regional and state qualifier Meaghan Seales, Natalie Barnett, Rance Dollahite, and Coach Schultze, joking that he (Barton) has “hung up his running shoes” now that Dollahite has beaten him.
Blanco Elementary Principal Linda Romano presented certificates to music teacher Malissa Mollberg and art teacher Meg Davis in the Spotlight on District Personnel segment. Romano praised both teachers for the technical information they give students on the fundamentals of their art and for working together to “weave a common thread” in projects such as the Heritage Day and Veterans’ Day celebrations.
Finally, President Matt Herden reported the training hours completed by trustees, as required by Board Policy BBD: Bernie San Miguel, 20.5; Matt Herden, 18.5; Troy Immel, 15.75; Darrel Wagner, 15; and Kirk Felps, Tim Nance, and Charles Riley, 3 each.
After executive session, trustees voted to approve the hiring of a new kindergarten teacher, Alexandra Mann.