At their regular meeting September 14, trustees of Blanco ISD heard a presentation by Tom Cozzi on the updated school website developed by Kay Campbell and himself. Calling it “the brainchild” of financial officer Kay Fraser, Cozzi showed off new features designed to fulfill District Goal #3: “Blanco ISD will ensure effective communication between the District and its students, parents, employees, media and the community as a whole.” Links to the three libraries’ card catalogs, menus of all three cafeterias, timely announcements, calendars for sports, band, and other activities, staff e-mail addresses, school board member information, employment opportunities, and minutes/agendas of trustee meetings are all available. Trustee Charles Riley jokingly asked if his students’ homework assignments would be available for him to check on, and Cozzi answered seriously, “It’s in the works.” The Bell, a weekly newsletter written by superintendent Dr. Buck Ford, is also available on the site at http://www.blancoisd.org. “It’s good news, and we’re very, very proud of it,” concluded Cozzi.
Dr. Ford reported that BISD received a rating of superior achievement from the Financial Integrity System of Texas, (FIRST) for the 2007-08 school year, scoring 83 out of a possible 85points. Documents from the Texas Education Agency listing the 24 indicators on which the rating is based were given to trustees. Dr. Ford also updated the board on the facilities study approved at the August meeting, which is proceeding under the direction of the administrative team and Fromberg Associates architecture firm. Dr. Ford also announced an early-release day at noon on Thursday, March 25, 2010, in order for the campuses to host district UIL Debate competition.
Improvements to the Panther football stadium are continuing, with a new speaker system to be operational by the next home game. Problems with the old system included no sound on the visitors’ side and difficulty hearing announcements from the field.
The district is purchasing two additional SUV’s for the purpose of transporting students to various events, and faculty and staff to mandatory training sessions. Dr. Ford explained that the cost of the two Suburbans, $38k each, will be partially paid for by federal stimulus funds, and that travel expenses will be less than using large buses to transport students. Students with special needs can also be transported to job-training programs. The SUV’s will hold up to 8 passengers.
Blanco High principal Dustin Barton recognized members of the BHS Speech/Debate team at the first monthly “Spotlight on Students.” Megan Brown, Abbey Weaver, Jacob Hallenberger, and Megan Kirkscey represented the team, which attended a Summer Debate Institute at Concordia University in Austin July 26-31 to sharpen their skills in extemporaneous speaking, Lincoln-Douglas Debate, and team policy debate.
In other business, trustees approved the following: an increase in the property tax rate by adopting a tax rate of $1.0838—a 1.7% increase. The operations rate of $.9791 will generate $6,500,000 in revenue; the debt service rate of $.1047 will generate $626,430. The tax hike will break down to an increase of approximately $21.20 on a $100,000 home.
Trustees also approved an amended resolution for the Blanco County Appraisal District’s financing, purchase, and construction of an office facility; the sale of a 71-passenger school bus with over 100,00 miles on it; and the sanctioning of 4-H as an extracurricular activity, enabling the district to receive funding when students are away from school attending a 4-H event. Finally, trustees approved a “Superintendent Evaluation Instrument,” developed with the help of Rita Gibbs from the Texas Association of School Boards. “We had a lot of meetings to hammer out this instrument—it’s going to be a great benefit to the superintendent and the district,” said trustee president Matt Herden.