The mood was festive at the January 12 meeting of the Blanco ISD trustees. The Texas Association of School Boards designates January is School Board Recognition Month. Governor Rick Perry’s proclamation “urges all Texans to recognize the invaluable contributions realized through the work of our school boards.” Representatives from all three schools in the district presented trustees with tokens of appreciation, including a poster, gift bags, and certificates in appreciation of their efforts to support the students of Blanco. Blanco High students Derek Tesch and Shelby Moore also gave trustees free tickets to the school’s upcoming hypnotism show. Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford praised the trustees, saying, “The job that school board members do is appreciated—they don’t get paid but must be available. “
Superintendent Ford and trustees also presented the Blanco High School football coaching staff and all the players with medals and a large trophy for an exciting 2009 season, from which they emerged victorious through quarter-final post-season play. Ford called their achievement “a tremendous and special thing,” and praised the way players represented the city. “You brought the schools and the community together and gave us something to identify with,” he concluded.
Accusations that the Blanco Panthers logo constitutes an infringement on the licensed logo of Washington State University were also discussed by Dr. Ford, who reported that a letter from the Collegiate Licensing Company back in August requested the district to phase out the logo. According to Ford, discussions with the district’s attorney resulted in the decision to reach a settlement with the Collegiate Licensing Company. The district’s plan, which was accepted by the CLC, includes selecting a new logo and phasing out the old one over a five-year period. A graphics design company, Monkey Boy Graphix, has been selected to design a new logo in consultation with Blanco’s athletic director, with assurances that the logo is original. The same company helped another school district, Abilene-Cooper, to re-design their logo after a similar accusation of copyright infringement. The new logo will be trademarked to prevent any future challenges. Dr. Ford’s memorandum outlines the district’s five-year plan to phase out the logo:
We will refrain from using our current Panther logo on any future school displays, equipment, clothing, flyers, pencils, vehicles, or any item upon which could be placed the logo. We will move swiftly to accomplish the change on items on which the logo can be quickly eliminated. As equipment and facilities come up for maintenance, we will eliminate the logo, i.e. walls painted, gym floors resurfaced, mats replaced, etc. In areas with imbedded current Panther logos, the district will place work orders for replacement of the logos, but in certain areas, the district may need to budget for replacement the following year.
Dr. Ford added that the district cannot compel private individuals to cease their displays of the current Panther logo. Ford explained that the delay in announcing the settlement until after the end of football season was because of the concern that it might have been “a distraction” during the playoffs.
Finally, Dr. Ford gave an update on construction of the new tennis courts at Blanco High School, explaining that the bidding process has been delayed slightly due to a lighting design change from three-phase, which did not match the circuitry on the pole from which electricity would be drawn. Bids will be advertised January 21 and 28; and the bidding process will begin on February 4 under the supervision of BISD architect Randy Fromberg, who has been hired to oversee construction.
Places 3 and 4, currently held by Dr. David Behrends and Kirk Felps, are due to expire. Trustees voted to approve a call for a school board election on May 9, 2009. March 9 is the last day to file for a place on the ballot and March 17 is the last day for a candidate to withdraw. Early voting begins on April 27th and ends on May 5th.
After discussion at a previous meeting, trustees also voted to approve a resolution to dissolve the Hays-Blanco Cooperative Special Education Shared Service Agreement. All four of the member districts of the co-op are withdrawing and will each receive an equal portion of the money in the co-op. Trustees also voted to create the following three new special education positions for the 2009-2010 school year: Special Education Specialist, with emphasis on assessment and behavior; Special Education Specialist, with emphasis on instructional support; and Speech Pathologist—a part-time position. Services of occupational and physical therapists will be sub-contracted out. The district has already hired Kathryn Rutherford as Director of Special Education.
Curriculum director Kathy Anderson reported on the state-mandated Academic Excellence Indicator System results for the 2007-08 school year, calling the report “a snapshot” of student progress, based on TAKS testing, AP/IB results, data related to the annual drop-out rate in grades 7-8, and completion rates for the class of 2007. A Gold Performance Acknowledgment went to the district, which earned an Academically Acceptable Rating. Blanco Middle School’s GPA’s included a Commended score on Reading/ELA, Language Arts, and Social studies as well as Comparable Improvement in mathematics. The Texas Success Initiative measures Higher Education Readiness, based on SAT/ACT results, exit level ELA/Math scores, and enrollment in advanced courses or dual-enrollment in college-level classes.
Blanco High School students scored at about the state average on AP and IB examinations. A more detailed report on the AEIS is available on the district website and at each campus. Anderson also announced that all schools met the Adequate Yearly Progress goals mandated by federal No Child Left Behind legislation. The AYP scores are based on reading and math scores as well as on attendance and a 70% graduation rate.