Former students of the old Mission Revival-style Blanco School spoke in support of its renovation at the meeting of the Blanco ISD trustees on April 13. Linda Howard, chair of the Blanco Historic Commission, recounted her excitement when she left fifth grade at the Kendalia School and came to “big school” in Blanco, from which she graduated in 1964. Rebecca Howerton, who started first grade there, fondly reminisced about the impact of her fourth grade teacher on her and the fact that she herself began her teaching career there, also teaching fourth grade. “It’s worth saving,” said Howerton.
Another former student in the historic building, June Baird informed the board that the building has only been renovated twice, once in 1942, when indoor rest rooms were added, and in 1954, when the wings were added. Connie Granberg reminisced about a tour of the old building along with local historian Roy Finch and school maintenance director Tony Petri, laughing that the old school “seemed smaller” than a child’s memory of it. Howard stated her desire for the school to become a local historic landmark, citing the value of historic buildings to a community. Granberg suggested that the building be taken down to its original size by removing the wings and “gently used” as an administration building.
Shirley Beck, chair of the Blanco Renovation Committee, reminded trustees that the current administration building is also a historic building. Acknowledging that the fund-raising has had a slow start, she asked trustees to write a cover letter to be used as part of the grant-writing process. She reiterated the committee’s hope that only private funds will be used for the renovation, estimated at $1.5 million at this point, with a new roof being the first priority. She also provided trustees with a privately-funded brochure, which will be mailed to potential donors. The brochure states that all contributions are tax-deductible and can be mailed to the following address: Renovation fund for the Mission Revival Style Building, Blanco ISD, attn: Kay Fraser, 814 11th Street, Blanco, TX 78666. Later in the meeting trustees approved an authorization for Dr. Beck to solicit donations and grants for the renovation on behalf of the district for one calendar year.
In his superintendent’s report, Dr. Ford congratulated the BHS Lincoln-Douglass debaters on their performance at the district tournament at Blanco High School on March 30. Taylor Holden earned a First Place, Joseph Romero , Second Place, and Tate Baker, Fifth Place. Taylor and Joseph will advance to the regional tournament in San Marcos April 30. The Blanco High Academic Team of 27 students scored 469.66 sweepstakes points April 9 to win the District 27AA Championship. Academic coaches are Howard Seltzer, Bill Spurgin, Russell Kirkscey, Judy Hinnant, Holly Vogt, Marie Graham, and Gina Blankenburg. Dr. Ford commended the success of the UIL program.
A tentative Staffing Plan for 2009-10 was presented to the trustees by Dr. Ford, with the caveat that it will change all the way up to the beginning of the next school year. Finally, Dr. Ford expressed the need for the board to update goals for the district, which have not been revised since 2001. A workshop led by District 13 will be scheduled in early June after TAKS results are in and the new board is seated.
Continuing negotiations for the construction of new tennis courts came to an abrupt end when a motion by trustee Troy Immel, seconded by trustee Bernie San Miguel, to approve a revised $467K contract with Greater Austin Development, was defeated by a 3-2 margin. The revised contract would have reduced the cost by almost $100K, removing the electrical package and changing some of the specifications for the amount of fill. Trustee Charles Riley’s initial motion to table the proposal for further study was defeated for the lack of a second.
Trustees approved an Energy Services Agreement with TAC Energy Solutions for implementation of a district-wide Conservation and Facility Improvement Project at a cost of $978, 261. Senate bill 12 and House bill 3693 require that districts reduce their annual electric consumption by five percent each fiscal year for the next six years. TAC’s projected annual savings to the district is $71,137 and the projected energy savings over 15 years is over $1 million. Trustee Matt Herden asserted, “This gives us a chance to save the district money.” San Miguel expressed his belief that the new, more efficient lighting may help improve TAKS scores. The district has begun the process of applying for a State Energy Conservation Department low-interest loan to help finance the program.
The two candidates for the Board of Trustees Election May 9—Kirk Felps and Darrel Wagner—are unopposed; therefore, the board voted to cancel the school board election at their special meeting March 24. The new trustees will take office in June. Nonetheless, the board voted to approve a Blanco County agreement for the use of a handicap voting machine at school board elections for a five-year term (2008-2014).
In other business, trustees approved a resolution extending the depository contract with Blanco National Bank for funds for the period September 1, 2009, through August 312, 1011. The resolution states, “Blanco National Bank has provided excellent service to the district. The administration desires to extend and continue its relationship with Blanco National Bank.” Finally, trustees approved a budget amendment increasing federal grant budgets to full entitlement for 2009 per approval from TEA dated March 25, 2009.