At their regular meeting September 13, trustees of the Blanco Independent School District approved a resolution to return the historic Kendalia school house to Kendall County. The rock building, funded by a $2500 bond issued by the Kendall County Rural School District in 1939, was built by the WPA and served the children of Kendall County until 1954, when KCRSD consolidated with Blanco, Boerne, Comfort, and Sherwood school districts. The school continued to operate for four years until 1958, when the children were moved to Blanco and the building became vacant.
In 1958 the Kendalia Community Club signed a 99-year lease with BISD at $1 a year. In 1961 the women of the Kendalia Community Club opened a library in one of the three rooms of the school. The library, which is now a member of the Kendall County Library System and the San Antonio Library System, serves over 200 members of the Kendalia community. In 1999 a new lease was signed by the library. According to a document prepared by Darrel Lux, Kendall County Commissioner, Precinct 3, the citizens of Kendall County have raised over $170K through grants and fundraisers over the years for capital improvements including installing a new roof, new electrical wiring, window repairs, a pavilion for community activities, and ADA-compliant restrooms to replace the original ones built in 1939. The building is a focus for community activities and serves as a polling place. The request for a return of the building to the community is a result of a vote by the Texas State Legislature in 2002, which allowed local school districts to return buildings no longer being used as schools back to their communities.
Since that vote, Fredericksburg ISD has returned twelve old school houses to their communities and Comfort has returned four. In the public hearing to discuss the resolution, several concerned citizens spoke. Commissioner Lux reviewed the history of the school and the efforts of Kendall County residents to get it back, beginning last February when he and Kendall County judge Schroeder, along with librarian Donna Jonas and former BISD employee Joy Brussel first presented their request to the trustees and their follow-up at subsequent meetings, including a petition with over 350 signatures asking for the return of the school to the community. He reminded trustees that the Kendalia community has invested over $170K in improvements to the facility and grounds. Stuart Stromeyer addressed the upcoming bond issue to make improvements to school facilities, stated that he was “having trouble with the logic” of giving away a valuable asset. Jim Barbe countered by saying that calling the historic property “an asset to be liquidated is ludicrous.” He explained that any attempts by the Kendalia community to sell the property would cause it to revert to the school district. Jerry Pfeil reminded the trustees that over 650 Kendall County residents pay taxes to BISD. Donna Jonas, librarian since the facility was incorporated in 1978 and given 501C-3 status as a nonprofit, said, “The old building means a lot to me—I went to school there through fifth grade.” She said that the library has a motto—”We’re small, but we provide personal service,” focusing on children’s programs and special help to senior citizens. “We’re asking you to give this to us so that we can continue to serve the community—your friends,” she concluded.
When the resolution came to a vote after deliberation in executive session, Dr. Ford was asked by MaryAnn Weaver to give the administration’s position on the issue. He revealed that the deed to the property is “not clear” and that it could cost the district up to $10K in legal fees to get a deed. He added, “I want to support the constituents and members of the board—I do not want divisiveness. I agree with Mr. Barbe; it has value to our district ($150K), but if we were to try to sell the property, it would be very divisive.
Mrs. Jonas is understating things when she says they have been good stewards (of the property.) They have been good lessees. It would be in the best interests of all concerned to go forward with this resolution.” President Matt Herden asked for a voice vote on the resolution, and MaryAnn Weaver made a statement calling the action “mismanagement of district assets.” “How can we, the trustees of BISD, consider giving away property after we just decided to hold an $8.8 million bond election for the elementary school expansion and new athletic facilities?” she added. Charles Riley countered by saying that the two issues are not related. “The people of Kendalia put their blood, sweat, and tears into it. It was theirs in the beginning—it should be theirs in the end.” Bernie San Miguel voted to support the resolution, raising the issue of the district’s liability in case of an accident on the property. Darrel Wagner, Kirk Felps, and Troy Immel also voted in favor of the resolution, which passed by a 5-2 margin, with Herden and Weaver opposed.
Three concerned citizens signed up to speak in Open Form concerning discipline of high school students in a recent incident in which students zip-tied lockers shut as a prank. However, Tricia Hartman, Diane Hostetler, and Randall Handberry decided to voice their concerns during executive session since no names could be mentioned in open session.
The Spotlight on Students segment of the meeting featured BHS cheerleaders Briar Koehl, Kaitlyn Walla, Hillary Calzoncit, Sidney Oliver, Presley Savarino, Callie Coulton, Paxston Koehl, Kelsey, Schwind, Megan Andrews, Katy Petri, and Elise Edmondson, who received seven superior evaluation ribbons for their chants, cheers, and dance routines at the Universal Cheerleader Association Cheer Camp at UT July 6-9 in addition to the UCA Camp Champs Trophy for their All-American Cheer performance.
Principal Dustin Barton and Dr. Buck Ford presented them with certificates of achievement. Director of Special Programs Kathy Anderson, assisted by Technology Director Tony Cozzi, recognized award-winning Migrant Program Personnel Danette Suarez and Olga Camp for the programs they implement with students of all ages in the district, beginning with the Building Bridges program for young children through college visits in cooperation with St. Edward’s University in Austin. She also praised their work with parents of their students, including home visits and work with non-English speakers.
“We appreciate you and the difference you are making each and every day in the lives of our students,” said Dr. Ford, who presented them with certificates of appreciation. In other business Dr. Ford reported that overhead lights have been installed at the intersection of Terry Lane and Highway 1623 and thanked PEC and mayor Chuck Homan for their assistance in improving safety for students. Trustees voted to approve a resolution sanctioning 4-H as an extracurricular activity so that the district can receive state funding when students are out of the classroom at a 4-H event. Trustees also appointed the following judges, alternate judges, and clerks for the November 2, 2010 bond election as follows: Precinct 102 (Blanco Masonic Lodge, 501 11th Street),
Kenneth Moore, Tony Vela, Margie Keutz, and Gay Armke; Precinct 201 (PEC Auditorium, Johnson City), Charlotte Thomas; Precinct 202 (Pleasant Hill School, Hye), Mary Frances, Spacek; Precinct 401 (Twin Sisters School) Shirley Beck, Darla Arnsberg, and Lisa Barnett; Precinct 402 (Old Blanco County Courthouse), Van Downing, Cindy Downing, Robert Beard, and Linda Dowdy; and Early Voting (BISD Administration Bldg.), Landa Lassberg, Olga Campa, and Kay Campbell.