For the second time, representatives of Kendall County came before the BISD trustees at their regular monthly meeting to request that the historic Kendalia schoolhouse be deeded back to Kendall County. Information presented by Darrel Lux, Kendall County Commissioner Precinct 3, and Kendall County Judge Gaylan Schroeder included a brief history of the schoolhouse, which was built by the Works Progress Administration using bonds issued by the Kendall County Rural School District in 1939 and served children in grades one through eleven until 1954, when Kendall, Boerne, Blanco, Comfort, and Sherwood school districts consolidated and Blanco ISD took over operation of the school.
In 1958 all the children were moved to Blanco schools and the Kendalia school was closed. In 1958 the Kendalia Community Club signed a 99-year lease with BISD at $1 a year, a lease which was renewed in 1999. The Kendall County Library, a branch of the San Antonio library system, now operates in the historic building, serving over 200 members of the Kendalia community. Improvements made over the years by the Kendalia Community Club total over $140K, funded by private donations, grants, and fundraising efforts such as an annual BBQ, and include an ADA-compliant restroom, rewiring of the library, a water storage tank, sidewalks, and a pavilion, which is used for community functions. Since the Texas State Legislature, effective January 1, 2002, gave local school districts the power to donate real property formerly used as a school campus to counties (Education Code sec. 11.541), Fredericksburg ISD has returned twelve old schoolhouses to Gillespie County, and Comfort ISD has returned four to their community.
The contention of Kendall County is as follows: “BISD did not pay for the acquisition of the property nor have they paid for any of the improvements or maintenance since 1958. BISD is not responsible for the payment of the insurance premiums for either property/casualty insurance or liability insurance. The burden of payment is on the Kendalia Community Club and the Kendalia Public Library. BISD does not have a financial investment in the Kendalia School.” And in summary Mr. Lux said, “This is the history of Kendall County—the names of our ancestors are on the cornerstone.” Trustees declined to act on the request, siting the need to consult with their attorney and TASB officials. However, president Matt Herden assured the representatives, “This is not a dead issue.” Meanwhile the Kendall County representatives plan to circulate a petition and a request to be added to the agenda of the July meeting.
In the Public Comments section of the meeting, Rebecca Bell-Metereau, Democratic candidate for the District 5 seat on the Texas State Board of Education, introduced herself and stated her concern for the high drop-out rate of school children in Texas and the politicizing of the curriculum. She is a professor of English and film at Texas State University.
The Spotlight on Students portion of the meeting highlighted the Panther Band, introduced by principal Dustin Barton, who recounted the numerous awards garnered by the band during the 2009-10 school year. Although director David Shirk was not present, assistant director Brandon Aly and band members received kudos from the board.
Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford updated trustees on efforts to implement BISD Goal #4: “Blanco ISD will recruit and retain high quality and highly effective teachers and provide a work environment for them to feel positively fulfilled.” Technology director Tom Cozzi reported on a recent job fair at which he and Blanco ISD principals Sue Ann Reininger and Jesse Salazar received numerous resumes from job-seekers. Dr. Ford cited other tools such as a brochure for prospective teachers, a place on the district website to download job applications, and a slide show about the district which shows what a desirable place Blanco is in which to work and live. The district has also purchased a colorful blue and gold table skirt and backdrop with Blanco Panthers logos, which will be used at various ceremonies and job fairs. Among enticements to encourage teacher retention was the retention bonus given to all returning teachers last year in their November paycheck and $1000 to each teacher from federal stimulus funds. The district gained 18 new staff members last year and lost only three, reported Ford.
Blanco High School principal Dustin Barton reported that Austin Community College’s College Connection served 70 high school seniors, or 95.9% of the 2010 graduating class. As a result, 59 students were accepted to ACC and are eligible to register with ACC as early as this summer. This program fulfills Goal #1 for BISD: “Blanco ISD students will master state and federal academic standards, and its graduates will be college and post-high-school ready.”
Dr. Ford notified trustees that the Katherine Anne Porter School is adding a campus and expanded grade levels. The district will submit a Statement of Impact form to TEA notifying TEA that the approval of the proposed change would have a negative impact on funding and could involve the loss of up to 20 students, a loss to the district of state funds amounting to over $100K. Eight students in Blanco ISD currently attend KAPS.
The district has also received a notice of construction of a new Stripes Convenience Store at the southwest corner of US Highway 281 and 13th Street. The corporation has applied for a Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission Wine and Beer Retailer’s Off-Premise Permit. Because it is situated within 1000 feet of Blanco Elementary School, the district must be notified. Dr. Ford explained that the trustees could challenge the request and have a hearing before a judge, but that the process could incur some legal expenses. Trustee Troy Immel said he would be more concerned if the store were near the high school, since elementary students do not leave campus during the day. Trustee Matt Herden said, “I’m not happy about it,” and trustees postponed action until the next meeting.
Dates have been set for meetings of the Facility Update committee, with the first being held June 22 at Blanco Elementary; the next on July 6 at Blanco Middle School; and the next at Blanco High School on July 20. The committee will tour each facility and present its findings at the August 9 school board meeting.
Trustees Charles Riley and Matt Herden, recently elected to new terms, were sworn in by BISD staff member Landa Lassburg. Trustee Bernie San Miguel was absent and will be sworn in at the next meeting. Matt Herden was re-elected president; Troy Immel, vice-president; and MaryAnn Weaver, secretary. Trustees elected Charles Riley as the district’s representative to the TASA/TASB State Convention in September and Darrel Wagner as an alternate. Trustees also voted to approve district goals for 2010-11, confirm compliance with requirements of the State Educational Programs, and approved a list of transfer students for 2010-11, most of whom are children of faculty members.
Trustees voted to approve the 2010-11 salary recommendations. The beginning salary for teachers is $38,440, an increase of $1000. The average salary increase on the proposed schedule is $1,548 or 3.37% Financial manager Kay Fraser called the recommendation “very bold” based on the financial woes of other districts. The salaries of administrators will increase 3%, and district-paid benefits will increase by $50 per month to offset a 7% increase in health premiums. A stipend of $7,200 has been added for the athletic trainer. Once again returning teachers will receive retention pay in a lump sum in November—$800 for all teachers, counselors, librarians, and nurses; and $600 for all other employees. Bus drivers will receive a $1 a day increase. Substitute pay rates are unchanged.
Finally, trustees voted to approve three budget amendments—one to open the budget for the Summer Feeding Program, one to increase the IDEA-B and IDEA-B Preschool budget to full entitlement. The final amendment transfers money from the general fund to pay for expanded seating on the visitor side of Panther Stadium, the final expense for the energy management project, and the property purchase on Elm Street.