Blanco ISD Curriculum Director Rick Labuhn presented 2013 state Accountability Ratings to trustees at their August 12 meeting. The district and all three campuses met state standards on all four indices—Student Achievement, Student Progress, Closing Performance Gaps, and Post-Secondary Readiness. Blanco Middle School earned Distinction Designation in two areas—Academic Achievement in Mathematics, and Top 25 Percent Student Progress; however, Hispanic and Economically-Disadvantaged Students missed System Safeguard Measures in Social Studies. Both Labuhn and middle school principal Keitha St. Clair pledged to focus on this area in the coming year—“We’ve got our crosshairs on it,” said Labuhn.
Blanco High School earned Distinction Designation in Achievement in English/Language Arts and Mathematics. The Performance Index Report showed Blanco ISD scores exceeding the state average by five points in Student Achievement, by one point in Student Progress, by six points in Closing Performance Gaps, and by 12 points in Post-Secondary Readiness. Blanco High School scored in the 97th percentile. “We are proud of our district’s achievement,” said Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford. A detailed report on all schools can be found at the Texas Education Agency website—http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport.
In his Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Ford thanked Blanco EMS for the CPR training offered on August 9 to district staff members and reported that over 30 attended and met certification requirements. The training “makes Blanco a safer place to work,” he said. He announced that all BISD staff will be issued ID badges, to be worn while on duty during the 2013-14 school year. He explained that local law enforcement officers would need to identify staff members in an emergency situation. ID badges will also be issued to high school and middle school students. Elementary students will not be issued ID’s; however, they may be implemented later to aid in lunch purchases and checking out library books.
Technology Director Tom Cozzi explained a new app for smart phones which will provide needed school-related notifications to the public. To download it, go to http://blancoisd.conduitapps.com. Directions are also on the website—http://blancoisd.org. Council member Darrell Wagner asked if sports information would also be on the app, and Dr. Ford said that any changes in schedules would be. The app also links to the district website.
Dr. Ford updated the board on District Goal #4: “BISD will recruit and retain high-quality and highly-effective teachers and provide a work environment for them to feel positively fulfilled.” He said that the online application process has given the district a pool of applicants that is “excellent in terms of quantity and quality.” He also showed the board a chart comparing salaries of BISD teachers with those of Comal, Comfort, Dripping Springs, Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and Wimberley districts. By the 20-year mark, BISD’s average salary ($53,570) outstrips all the others. Dr. Ford thanked Business Manager Kay Fraser for her part keeping Blanco salaries “at the forefront” in the face of state cuts.
Dr. Ford also updated trustees on plans for the Historic Building Dedication Saturday, August 24, from 5-7 p.m. The public is invited to the ceremony, which will include recognition of all former students and a panoramic picture by Goldbeck Photographers, both of former students and of all those in attendance. Commemorative cups will be given to those in attendance. Trustees voted to approve a resolution naming the east wing gallery of the historical building for Bernice West, a longtime Blanco resident who was active in many preservation efforts and was a member of the Blanco ISD Citizens Advisory Committee. She died in January 2013. The resolution was drafted by the Citizens Advisory Committee in July.
Vanguard Contractors Project Manager Joel Benjegerdes presented trustees with what might be his final report, since he said renovations of entrances at all three campuses are scheduled to be completed by Monday, August 19. However, Job Site Superintendent Rick Mikeska will be onsite for the remainder of August. He reported that 27 schools in the state are going through the same security updates in the wake of the New Jersey school shootings. In answer to Darrell Wagner’s question about freezer problems at the elementary school, he said the problem is solved and the punch list of all items in the renovation process is complete. Photos by Benjegerdes also showed the installation of ADA-compliant handrails along a walkway from the elementary school to the renovated Alamo-style building. Benjegerdes also introduced his wife Karen, a veteran teacher.
Trustees approved the Student Code of Conduct for the 2013-14 school year, adding revisions that reflect changes dealing with conduct violations on district vehicles and the definition of assault, relating to laws passed by the 83rd Legislature. Dr. Ford also informed trustees of changes in the Student –Parent Handbook. Revisions include the following: student absences related to parental military deployment are now considered as days of attendance for the purposes of the district’s ADA funding. As mandated by House Bill 5, the requirement of End of Course assessments counting 15 percent of a student’s final grade has been removed. The “Mohawk” hairstyle is now not permitted in the dress code, and procedures for students leaving school during the school day will change. These are just a few of the revisions in the Student-Parent Handbook.
The district has received notification of Chapter 41 status for 2013-14. In order to reduce its wealth per student, trustees voted to purchase attendance credits from the state. Trustees also approved a resolution sanctioning the Blanco and Gillespie County 4-H organizations as extra-curricular activities. Blanco County extension agents Gretchen Sanders and Todd Swift and Gillespie County agents Brad Roeder, Shea Nebgen, and Micah Walker were approved as adjunct faculty members. The purpose of the resolution is to allow students to be considered “in attendance” when participating in off-campus 4-H activities with an adjunct faculty member of the school district.
Due to a loss of storage space as a result of the renovation process, trustees voted to approve the construction of a storage facility in the southeastern quadrant of the bus yard. The 60x40 foot Mueller building will cost $44,341.3 including pouring the slab and installation.
Trustees voted to set the date of August 26, 2013, at 7 p.m. at Blanco High School for a public meeting to discuss the budget and proposed tax rate for the 2013-14 school year. After deliberation in Executive Session, trustees voted to approve the resignation of Derrick Hernandez (sixth grade social studies/coach) and the approve the employment of Andrea Hollomon (eighth grade math) and Logan Lucke (sixth grade social studies/coach).