At the August 10 meeting of the BISD trustees, superintendent Dr. Buck Ford announced that accountability ratings released by the Texas Education Agency in July designated Blanco Elementary with the highest rating—“Exemplary”—based on TAKS scores, attendance, and dropout rates. Both Blanco High School and Blanco Middle School earned “Acceptable” Ratings. The Blanco school district as a whole earned a “Recognized” rating—the second highest rating possible.
In a press release issued July 31, Blanco Elementary principal Sue Ann Reininger said, “We are proud of all the students for the effort that they put forth last year. Under the instruction of the teachers and staff at Blanco Elementary, and with the support of parents and guardians, the students excelled in all tested subjects: Reading, Math, Writing and Science. Congratulations go out to them all!”
Middle school principal Jesse Salazar also thanked all “the students, parents, teachers and staff for all the hard work that was accomplished in the 2008-09 school year. The Blanco Middle School staff is looking forward to the 2009-10 school 7ear in servicing our students of the community towards academic excellence.”
Blanco High principal Dustin Barton said, “The 2009 TAKS scores for BHS show considerable gains in performance. These gains in performance are attributable to the level of commitment and dedication of the teachers and staff at BHS to improve student performance. Of the 16 categories measured for TAKS performance, BHS made improvements in 15 compared to the previous year’s results. Double-digit gains were seen in science and social studies sub-populations.”
“We are proud of our performance ratings,” said Dr. Ford. “These ratings represent a tremendous amount of hard work and steadfast dedication. They demonstrate a belief we have at Blanco ISD—that all students can learn.” Dr. Ford had praise for all who contributed to the district’s effort—teachers, staff, parents, students, and community members. Finally, he thanked trustees “for their continual support.” The three campuses and the district as a whole also met the federally-mandated Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals, according to Dr. Ford.
The Blanco Lions’ Club “Stuff the Bus” Project, held on August 10, was also a great success according to Dr. Ford, who thanked Lions’ president Nanette Mikes for her leadership of the project, which collected donated school supplies and backpacks to needy children in the BISD. “We appreciate the Lions Club’s contribution to our schools,” said Dr. Ford.
BHS principal Dustin Barton reported on a Memorandum of Understanding recently signed with Austin Community College, which will enable high school students to earn up to 30 hours of college credit prior to graduation. The College Connection program has as its goal to get all seniors accepted to ACC based on TAKS scores or the ASSET test. ACC personnel will also hold workshops to help parents understand and complete the FAFSA form, enabling students to obtain financial aid. In addition to the Advanced Placement classes offered at BHS, the Introduction to Welding and Child Development classes can also earn dual credit for students. Trustee Matt Herden commented that this program “aligns with district goals to get all students ready for college.”
Mr. Barton also briefed the trustees on proposed changes in graduation requirements coming from TEA but said the total number of credits required for graduation will not change. Students will not have to change their schedules, as the courses no longer required—an additional PE credit, a technology class, and a Health and Speech class— will still earn elective credit. Curriculum Director Kathy Anderson added that these credits are still required for the Distinguished Plan, and that eliminating them would “close the door” on the possibility of earning the highest-level diploma.
In other business the trustees approved a Facility Study by architects Fromberg and Associates. The initial cost of the study, $7500, would be credited to any projects undertaken as a result of the study. According to Dr. Ford, the last study, done in 1995, helped guide projects and set priorities for the ensuing years to date. Mr. Fromberg stressed the necessity for having a vision and setting priorities which would guide trustee decisions. “You need a tool and a framework to make decisions,” he said. “If you can reach consensus on large issues, it will be easier to make decisions.” In answer to a question by trustee Charles Riley as to the length of time the study would project needs, Mr. Fromberg said that 10 years is a good length of time to plan for. The study would assess current facilities at each campus, prioritize existing facility needs, identify community-related issues, anticipate future demographics of the district, and design a well-developed plan to address present and future facility issues. Dr. Ford explained that community and school personnel concerns over the past year have motivated the district to consider the study.
Trustees adopted the 2009-10 budget as presented, with a general operating fund of $10,755,100. Financial manager Kay Fraser announced that the district has received federal stimulus money for special programs—$185k for the IDEA program and $82k for Title I programs. She explained that 85 percent of the budget is allotted to salaries and benefits. “We have made a big investment in our people,” she said. “We are very proud of our salary and benefits package.” Trustees also approved a budget amendment request for the year-end budget to align the budget with actual expenditures. Trustees approved the sale of a 1998 53-passenger school bus to Frio Depot for $578 and the sale of a pick-up truck for $611. The purchase of a new pick-up was also approved.
Trustees also approved an amendment to a March 2008 resolution which will allow the Blanco County Appraisal District to borrow the funds necessary to complete the purchase and construction of an office facility in Johnson City. County appraiser Hollis Boatright stated, “The resolution you approved in March of 2008 was missing the word ‘financing.’ In order for us to proceed, we are presenting a new resolution that includes a provision for financing. We realize that there are public concerns, but we have done extensive research to come up with a solution that is financially the best option for the taxing entities as well as the taxpayers themselves.”
Revisions to the School Conduct Code were approved by the board based on revisions in state law. Trustees also approved Superintendent Performance Goals, drafted with the assistance of Rita Gibbs of TASB in a workshop with trustees in July. A revision to TASB Policy FMH(Local) in relation to the commencement ceremony was also approved by trustees, enabling “Any current member of the Blanco ISD Board of Trustees [to] present the graduation diploma to his or her son or daughter at the District graduation ceremony.”