At the December 9 meeting of trustees of the Blanco Independent School District several Certificates of Appreciation were handed out including the monthly Spotlight. The Student Spotlight was presented by High School Principal Dr. Dustin Barton to Student Athletic Trainers Diego Alegria, Austin Andrews, Robby Arlett, Merritt Johnson, Vanessa Skillman, and Riley Watt. “These Student Trainers work along side the Coaching Staff and Athletic Teams, on and off the field or court. The work they put in is usually behind the scenes and occurs before or after practices and games. I always note that they’re generally the first ones there and the last ones to leave.” spoke Dr. Ford. Coach Chris Lay supervises and teaches the Student Trainers.
Elementary School Principal Linda Romano presented the Personnel Spotlight. Romano praised Librarian Laurie Kirkscey and gave an example of one weeks worth of statistics at the Elementary Library. “We have about 465 students. In one week we had 1,173 books checked out. We had 343 students visit the library during open checkout, not just with their classrooms, but coming in on their own, and together they read 2,613,000 words. It’s those kind of celebrations, the recognition and encouragement that Laurie’s been giving that’s making our reading program take off.” said Romano.
Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford then gave an update on Blanco ISD Goal #3; “ensuring effective communication between the District and its students, parents, employees, media, and the community as a whole.” Dr. Ford went on to say, “We are committed, District wide, to communication. We have our website with constantly updated information. We now have an app for emergency notifications, which we put into effect just [recently for the late start]. We have the Bell Newsletter and we have press releases as appropriate to the Blanco County News.” He also listed several committees and organizations made up of community members. Each campus also has various programs dedicate to communication. Elementary School Principal Romano spoke to the board that “each teacher [or grade level] puts out a newsletter… on at least a weekly if not monthly basis. We have our Watch Dogs, a program just for dads, and as they come to school to do their duty… I think 100% of them come out of that with a new respect for what teachers do throughout the day.” Middle School Principal Keitha St. Clair also spoke to the board, “We’re certainly continuing to improve and work on communication. One thing is a document called Panther Madness, it details all the things going on at the Middle School. We send that out weekly to our staff and district administrators. We have a monthly calendar we send out to all students and staff as well. This year we have also gone back to an old tradition… we’re starting our student created newsletter. Ms. Hawkins works with the writers… just after Christmas we’ll have our first student-created newsletter again. We’re starting STARR Prep Parent Nights. We also have Parent Volunteers in the classrooms this year.” High School Principal Dr. Barton finished stating, “We’ve been trying to recognize those businesses that support us, I’ve been making posters that show our [athletic] teams that show our proud supporters. We want our teachers to communicate clearly and consistently with our students. I monitor that by having teachers turn in communication binders. I’m also requesting that my teachers [call parents of students] just to tell them ‘Your kid is doing a great job.’
At the close of this presentation, Dr. Ford called upon Diana Schwind to present her with a Certificate of appreciation for her Photographic Journalism. “Mrs. Schwind has been taking pictures of Blanco ISD events for the past several years. Her pictures appear weekly in the Blanco County News. She weekly comes by my office to drop off discs, and these selected photos are put into the Bell. Mrs. Schwind’s photographic record of the students of Blanco ISD is done with quality, professionalism, and love. Thank you for contributing to ensuring effective communication with our community, and for your love and support of the students of Blanco ISD.
Technology Director Tom Cozzi gave a presentation on the District’s Technology program. He reported on the large undertaking of bringing Blanco ISD up to date in the technology department, a majority of that project taking place during the construction of the Historical Building. He gave the board a breakdown of expenses for the project. “I was given $100,000 to get this project done, and it came out to just over $97,000.” said Cozzi. He also explained that the campus had changed providers, from Verizon to GVTC. “I wanted to hook up the press box at the Football stadium to be part of the network, so they’ll have network and internet access.” Cozzi said GVTC said they could do that, and for less money. Cozzi was then able to increase the bandwidth provided to the school and is in the process of creating an Emergency Recovery program, so if internet is lost at one location, it can be provided by the other. “And this will come out to exactly what we were paying before, not a penny more.” he concluded. Dr. Ford presented Mr. Cozzi with a special recognition. “Tom came to our district in 2003 as a technology teacher at Blanco Elementary and in 2007 he was name the District’s Technology Director. Tom has done a tremendous job… Tom has an energy, a drive, and a dogged determination to keep up with all the latest trends in technology. Tom’s also attended to his budget and is disciplined in the District’s Technology purchases. Thank you for your contributions to Blanco ISD, we appreciate the work you do.” said Ford.
Mr. Keith Neffendorf of Neffendorf, Knopp, Doss & Company, P.C. was in attendance to present the board with the 2012-2013 financial audit. “We have made an audit of the financial statements of the District and in our opinion the financial statements are presented fairly.” stated Neffendorf. He went on to touch on several key points of the audit, including that the District had over 24 million in assets and 13 million in liabilities, which he stated to be an “excellent financial shape”, the District’s investments are in accordance with the law, and a few items, including food cost, were under budget for the year. Mr. Neffendorf also noted to the board, “If you look at your revenues, your fund sources… in 2012 67% of the District was paid by local taxpayer money, 25% State, and 7% Federal. In 2013, 72%, a 5% jump, was paid by the local taxpayers, and the State decreased by 4%. We’ve seen in these types of areas, that the local taxpayers are asked to pick up a bigger burden each year. The [Blanco ISD] Board through the years has built up the fund balance and given the State funding disaster… you guys can sustain operations. 2011 and 2012 saw a lot of districts have to lay off a lot of people. You guys have always operated a good ship without having to borrow money... to stay in a healthy financial position.” Board motion to approve the financial audit was approved.
The last item of business was a Resolution submitted for Board approval that clearly authorizes Paul Hunn and Matt Burns to appear in the pending litigation, Blanco Memorial Highway Post 352, The American Legion, Department of Texas, vs. Board of Trustees of the Blanco Independent School District, and J. Buck Ford, Superintendent. “I want to be clear,” Matt Burns stated, “everything necessary that needs to happen has already happened.” Paul Hunn was approved as attorney for the Board and for the District in 2008, however this Resolution was presented to prevent any “distraction” during the Summary Judgement hearing this Friday. “We want the court to be able to focus on the substance of the case. We don’t need to be arguing about whether the attorneys are approved or not.” said Burns. The Resolution was approved and signed.