The regular meeting of the Blanco ISD Board of Trustees opened with Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford presenting Board Vice President Troy Immel with a plaque for his 9 years of service. The May 12 meeting will be Immel’s last to serve on the Board as he did not file for re-election; Larry Kuebel will serve in his place.
“Troy, I want to Thank you for the support you’ve given; your dedication to the kids. We certainly appreciate it.” said Ford.
Dr. Ford presented one more special recognition during the meeting. “This person has probably affected everybody in this room at one time or another. Peggy Pepper, retired from our district March 31. She’s been Blanco’s nurse for 28 years. She worked as a volunteer for 3 years before that. The Nurse has a tremendous amount of responsibility; the health needs of our students and employees every day, at all the campuses. The job requires hard work, critical decision making, communication skills, and staying on top of ever changing events, regulations and rules. Peggy, we’re going to miss you, but at the same time it is a pleasure to recognize you tonight, and we wish you the best in your retirement.” said Dr. Ford.
Elementary Principal Linda Romano presented a spotlight on the top readers of each grade. “We have 23 ‘millionaires’; as of May 6 we have 23 kids that have read more than a million words in just this school year alone. What I’ve decided to recognize [tonight] is the kids that were going above and beyond in their grade level.”
The top readers in each grade level were; Kindergarten, Brayden Hull with 6,496 words, First Grade, Colby Murphree with 55,045 words, Second Grade, Caleb Murrah with 445,258 words, Third Grade, Calea Cummings with 1,119,789 words, Fourth Grade, Joseph Hernandez with 2,025,944 words, and Fifth Grade, Anna Beliveau with 4,649,830 words.
Romano also presented Family Reading Awards to siblings with a high number of words. Kathryn Hull, a Fifth Grader and Sister to Brayden Hull, read 1,216,395 words. Macee Murphree, a Fourth Grader and sister to Colby Murphree, read 1,014,521 words. Meadow and Tristan Schlinke, Third and Fifth Grade respectively, together read over 3 millions words. Twins Brenden and Jared Mote, in Fourth Grade, also read over 3 million words together. The Top Readers from Family Reading Night was the Beliveaus Family, with over 56 thousands words read as a family.
“We have some voracious readers, and this is just the tip of that reading iceberg.” concluded Romano.
High School Principal Dr. Dustin Barton shined a spotlight on the Region IV UIL Academic Champion. “We have 11 state qualifiers, and I’m going to bring those students up to recognize them.” said Dr. Barton.
Individuals who placed First through Third, the Computer Science Team (Mark Kuebel, Michael O’Rear, Colton Barrow, and Joshua McCaslin) and the Calculator Team (Moses Godinez, Callie Nance, and Mariah Ackerson), will represent Blanco High School at the State Meet at UT Austin on May 20 and 21. Individuals are: Computer Science, First Mark Kuebel, Second Michael O’Rear, and Third Colton Barrow, Persuasive Speaking, First Drew Ritter and Second Thomas Kirkscey, Calculator Applications, First Moses Godinez, Mathematics, Third Place Callie Nance, Editorial Writing, Third Place Kristin Watt, and Current Issues and Events, Second Place Patton Keutz.
Dr. Barton also recognized UIL Academic Coordinator Russell Kirkscey, and UIL Coaches Judy Schwarzlose and Gina Blankenburg.
Blanco’s newly appointed Nurse Robin Johnson gave the board an update on the District’s Health Program. “First of all I’d like to say Thank You, very much, for granted me the privilege of taking over for Nurse Pepper. It is an honor, it is also a very large responsibility that I take very seriously. I also know that I have huge shoes to fill.” She presented to the board an outline of the Nurses daily, ongoing, and annual duties. Nurse Johnson also spoke to the board about Kat Stoss who had taken over the duty of Curriculum Director for “Worth the Wait”, the abstinence based sex-education program used at Blanco ISD. “She has taught sex-ed and abstinence based education to all different sectors, throughout all different communities, including jails and clinics. We are also thankful that the district was able to purchase updated curriculum for her to use.” said Nurse Johnson.
The proposed purchase of Science Textbooks for grades K-12 and Math Textbooks for grades K-8 was brought before the board for approval. Dr. Ford told the board that there were sufficient funds in the state-funded instructional Materials Allotment account to cover the costs of over 140 thousand for the new textbooks. Board President Matt Herndon acknowledged that many schools were finding themselves unable to cover the costs of new textbooks with the Material Allotment alone, forcing them to dip into general funds. Dr. Ford agreed with this and spoke to the board on how the costs funded by the State are lower than the actual costs of the textbooks, but that Blanco had been conservative in the past years in order to purchase new textbooks. Dr. Rick LaBuhn confirmed that the new textbooks would be good for 8 years. A question on if E-books had become a cheaper option for any schools districts was answered by Dr. Ford, “E-books are priced at a point where school districts are not realizing a savings.” The purchase was approved by the Board.
Maria Barraco spoke to the board during Open Forum, on the topic of “Unofficial Hunger Games.” She told the board that she tends to baby chicks at her home. “If you go by my house, you will say, wow, something’s being done well. But, this year, we’ve had a lot of mortality, because my incubator broke down.” began Barraco. “My baby chicks are like our students. From the outside you will think there is nothing wrong, that everything is beautiful, that everything is going great. From the outside we are shining. But we’re still having, you could say, a great mortality rate that should not be there. There’s a lot more that can be done. There are a lot more students that can be helped. I mention the Hunger Games, because it hit me why [the movie did so well] with our young ones, because some people like to play the hunted and hunter. The ones that are picked, everybody else is like, ‘I’m not the chosen one to be hunted, so I’m fine.’ We need to do something for them. I need to do something for those dying chicks, I need to get my incubator. We still need to do a lot. We have to the cut the Unofficial Hunger Games.”
Next in Open Forum, Roxanna Avants of the American Legion requested to Pin Poppies on the school board in honor of veterans for Memorial Day. Before she pinned, she gave “kudos” to the School Board, the Campuses, and the Blanco Police Department for the “great job” during the lockdown. Avants has a daughter in Kindergarten and noted her appreciation for the safety precautions taken by the school.
Following executive session, the Board: Approved the closed session review of the security audit; Approved the employment of Tamara Hall-King for Fifth grade science, and Approved the employment of Dena Torres for the Elementary TAG/Enrichment teacher position.