At their regular meeting March 4, Blanco ISD trustees heard an update from Vanguard Contractors Project Manager Joel Benjegerdes on the Blanco Elementary School renovation and construction project, which is now focused on the Alamo-style original school building. Millwork in classrooms in both wings is 90 percent complete, and flooring and ceiling tile work is scheduled to be completed within the next month. Although all work is scheduled to be complete by the end of March or the first part of April, students will not occupy the building during this school year, according to Benjegerdes. “We’re trying to do it right and not rush the project,” he said. Vanguard has donated cypress wood left from another project for louvres in the three openings on the upper level of the Old Yellow Building just below the bell tower.
Maintenance Director Tony Petri praised Benjegerdes and Bill Burrow of Vanguard, with whom he meets twice a month to keep abreast of progress. “They’re doing a great job,” he commented. He also reviewed improvements completed on the three campuses in the past few months, some of the funding coming from last spring’s bond election. A new floor has been installed in the BES gym, and restrooms have been upgraded. At Blanco Middle School, an air-conditioning system has been installed in the gym, and an irrigation system has been installed at the athletic fields. He reminded trustees of the $82,500 grant from SECO, which has provided for eight new air-conditioning units at the middle school. Improvements at Blanco High School include a new sound system in the auditorium and a new state floor. At the district level, 52 security cameras have been installed with the help of Technology Director Tom Cozzi, with eight more to be installed on the elementary school campus when construction is complete. In addition, Petri praised his maintenance team and the custodial staff. “I couldn’t be more proud of the team we have,” he enthused. The district has upgraded to a microfiber cleaning system, which Petri called more efficient and more “green,” meaning that fewer chemicals are used. He concluded by thanking trustees for their support. “You do a great job,” responded trustee Tim Nance.
In his Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Buck Ford congratulated Blanco High principal Dustin Barton, who recently defended his doctoral dissertation at Texas Tech University and is now “Dr. Dustin Barton.” Dr. Barton answered modestly that the new title “doesn’t seem right.” He shined the monthly Spotlight on Students on BHS student Connor Eyzaguirre, a published author, who has just published his fifth novel in the Rock Salt Series, which is available on Amazon. “We’re really proud of his efforts,” concluded Barton.
Principal Bill Luna shined the district Spotlight on the science team at Blanco Middle School—Donna Ashley, Pam Meier, and Natalie Jurischk—commending them for the high scores their students achieved on the STAAR testing. “The state will be seeking to reach that level for years,” he said, adding that their relationship with their students and collaborative approach are “as good as any I’ve seen.”
Dr. Ford gave the trustees a Safety and Security Update, announcing that law enforcement officers have been invited to participate in a free breakfast and lunch program to get them into the schools and make students comfortable with their presence. There was also a Law Enforcement Walkthrough for officers to assess the security measures at the campuses. A further security measure has been instituted—locking the tennis courts at the elementary campus during the school day. Dr. Ford explained that the courts lie in close proximity to play equipment and PE fields, and that those using the courts do not have to be screened. The courts will be unlocked after school is dismissed each day.
In other updates, Dr. Ford announced that March is Red Cross Month. Red Cross Flags provided by the Hill Country chapter of the Red Cross will be flown at the three campuses during the month. The Region XIII Board of Directors election has been canceled because the two places up for election were uncontested and will be filled by Dr. Charles Atkins and Mr. Paul Curtis. There will be an early release day on Wednesday, March 27, at noon, for the high school to host a District UIL Academic Meet.
A joint election will be held May 10, 2013, in the Blanco Elementary School cafeteria for the Blanco ISD and the Blanco Groundwater Preservation District. Three places are up for election on the Blanco ISD board. Libbey Aly and incumbent Charles Riley have filed for Place 6. Bernie San Miguel and Matt Herden have filed for places 5 and 7 and are running unopposed. Trustees approved the appointment of Debbie Stenulson as Election Judge.
Finally, trustees approved TASB Policy Update 96, which addresses topics such as board member powers and duties, the framework for school board development, legal services for districts, and, at a local level, selection of instructional materials and student attendance accounting.