January is School Board Recognition Month, and groups from each campus came to show appreciation for the Blanco Independent School District board of trustees at their regular meeting on January 13. This year’s recognition theme is Hearts and Hands for Kids.
Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford began with a speech. “I want to thank and recognize the citizens that serve on our School Board. School Board members serve countless hours working to make public education in Blanco ISD the best it can be for every child.” said Ford. “Our board is responsible for an annual budget of $10.4 million dollars, 981 students, 163 employees and 3 campuses. Blanco ISD would like to honor our board members.” Ford presented the Board with certificates of appreciation.
National Junior Honor Society officers from the Middle School, Will Granberg, Ciera Keogh, and Mia Albrecht, presented the board with letters of appreciation written by BMS students and goodie bags prepared by them. BMS Principal Keitha St. Clair also presented each board member with personalized 2013-14 baseball style caps.
The High School prepared a special feast for the board of steaks, salad, and desserts prepared by students with the assistance of Principal Dr. Dustin Barton. “We appreciate all the work you’ve done for us and so we thought we’d do a little bit of work for you tonight.” said Barton.
Principal Linda Romano began the Elementary School’s presentation by saying, “This was a true collaboration in appreciation for you guys. If anyone ever doubts the importance of a fine arts program in an Elementary School, I hope that this takes those doubts away.” John Handley-Kainer, Shannon O’Neil, Ella West, and Avery Nance, Oral Readers from the Elementary UIL competition, prepared a poem of appreciation for the Board:
Hearts and Hands
Hands and Hearts
To thank you properly
Where should we start
Is clear to us all
You work on School betterness
Long after nightfall
You discuss and research
And discuss some more
Deciding what’s best for kids
Is your primary chore
Hands and Hearts do the job
We can all plainly see
You’re all committed to making Blanco
All it can be
The songs on this CD
Were sung to honor what you do
The artwork on the cover
Is meant to show how we appreciate you
So listen and know
Without any doubt
You are what being a School Board
Is all about
With love and appreciation
From students and staff
Of Blanco Elementary School
After reading the poem the students presented the Board with the wrapped CDs.
For the Spotlight on students portion of the meeting, the BMS Academic UIL District Championship Team was honored. “I would really like to have the whole team here tonight to honor… but these are the two highest scorers from each grade and they’ve come to represent the whole team.” The Middle School outscored their competitors by nearly 500 points. “We would also like to take a moment to recognize and show appreciation for the BMS UIL Director, Stephanie Taylor. She does so much of the legwork and paperwork to make sure that BMS excels in UIL every year. Thank you, we couldn’t have done it without you Ms. Taylor.” said St. Clair.
Katherine Rutherford, Direction of Special Education, was honored in the Personnel Spotlight portion of the meeting. She was hired on as the District’s first Special Education Director in 2009. “Katherine’s strong leadership and communication skills have enabled her to recruit and cultivate a high quality staff that provides a program of service to our students with disabilities that our district can be proud of. Katherine is a valuable member of the administration team, and makes a significant contribution to the success of Blanco ISD.” said Dr. Ford as he presented her with a Certificate of Appreciation.
An update was given on Blanco ISD Goal #2, that BISD Students will be College and Post-High School Ready. Dr. Ford gave a presentation citing several articles on the subject, key points being that Rural America sees a smaller percentage of adults that have Bachelor Degrees, many children that will be the first in their family to go to college, and that community colleges play a larger role. Each campus Principal spoke on how they prepare students for College. The Elementary and Middle School campuses shared similar ideas such as, college day, where kids are encouraged to wear college themed shirts, and that teaches display their degrees and talk to the kids about where they attended college. The idea to create a mindset about future college attendance and to show the children “what it takes” to obtain a job in the career of their preference was also shared by the two campuses. At the High School level, student success coordinators are pushing students to take AP and Dual Credit courses, with the real focus on college planning beginning in the Junior year. Dr. Ford reported that 27% of BISD students complete a Dual Credit or AP course. Dr. Barton mentioned a higher rate of Blanco ISD students interested in Trade Schools.
An update on Blanco ISD Goal #1, BISD Students will Master State and Federal Academic Standards, and BISD will Close the GAP that Exists between Students Groups In Standardized Test Scores, was given by Director of Curriculum and Special Programs, Dr. Rick LaBuhn. He presented the 2012-2013 Blanco ISD Texas Academic Performance Report to the Board. A copy of the entire report can be picked up at the Administrative Offices. In most areas, Blanco ISD was above or at par with State standards. Dr. LaBuhn expressed that this was a great “reflection of the staff of BISD.” He added, “Is there room for improvement? Absolutely, but we’re doing well compared to the other schools in our district... smaller schools.” The report also includes a financial report of average salaries in the District and at each Campus.
Superintendent Dr Ford presented an update on the Drug Prevention Program at Blanco ISD. He reported that the District sent home a letter on Drug Free Schools and a Student Code of Conduct with students during registration, which outlines the District’s belief that student’s use of alcohol and illicit drugs is both “wrong and harmful” and defines disciplinary measures for offenders. Dr. Ford’s research into drug use prevention cited many examples of how participation in extracurricular activities such as sports, music programs, religious activities, after school jobs, etc. played a role in keeping kids off drugs. Dr. Ford then listed the various extracurricular activity opportunities provided by BISD, calling them “strong” programs that fit a “diversity of interests.” He reported that random drug dog searches are continued at both the Middle and High School campuses. He expressed that the Drug Free School program was a “work in progress” and that the District would need to stay on top of trends and issues as presented in keeping BISD drug free. Dr. Ford suggested to the Board, District participation in the Texas School Survey of Drug and Alcohol Use. It is an anonymous, online survey and according to Dr Ford is an “effective tool to evaluate the impact of special substance abuse prevention and education programs” when administered over a long period of time. It is administered by Texas A&M for Texas Department of State Health Services and would require parental notification, including opt-out information, before being implemented. Questions raised by the board included whether students would answer the survey truthfully, and if the notice to parents would need to be mailed directly as opposed to being sent home with the children. Dr. Ford said the choice of notification would be up to the district, but whether the students would answer truthfully could not be answered. The Board approved to participate in the Survey.
After a break for Executive Session, the Board approved Dr. Ford to attend and represent the District at the scheduled Mediation regarding the pending litigation with the American Legion Post 352. They also approved Dr. Ford’s Superintendent contract to be extended for one year and a 3% salary increase for him as well.
The regular March meeting of the School Board was moved from March 10 to March 3 as to not fall during Spring Break.