At their regular March 7 meeting, trustees of the Blanco Independent School District voted to order a bond election consisting of three proposals on May 14. Superintendent Dr. Buck Ford reminded trustees that the November bond election failed by only five votes.
“The voters spoke and we listened,” said Ford, relaying voter comments that they didn’t have a choice since there was no separation of issues.
In contrast, the bond election in May will have three proposals, giving voters a choice. Proposal 1, at a cost of $1,057,420, will provide for improvements at Blanco Elementary, adding 3,739 square feet to the facility, and Blanco Middle School, as well as district-wide technology improvements and safety and security cameras. Proposition 2, costing $186K, will involve improvements to Blanco High School, the purchase of a new school bus, and paving repairs. Proposition 3 will provide $600K for relocating the tennis courts to the campus of Blanco High School.
Two items which have been deleted from the projects are a running trail at Blanco Elementary and chip-sealing the pavement at Panther Stadium.
Jennifer Douglas of Specialized Public Finance, Inc. explained the tax rate impact that the bond issue would have. If all three propositions pass, the tax rate would rise approximately 5 ½ cents on the dollar, or $54.90 on a $100K home. Passing propositions 1 and 3 or 1 and 2 would also cause the tax rate to rise a little over 5 cents on the dollar. If only propositions 2 and 3 pass, the tax rate would actually drop a little. The bond money would actually earn interest, which would help to pay off the debt sooner.
Dr. Ford pointed out some advantages to money from bonds, which would not be subject to “state recapture.” Last year the state took back $138K of local taxpayer money and redistributed it to other school districts. Money allocated for technology and transportation from bond monies would also not be subject to the state shortfall. President Matt Herden commended the Citizens’ Advisory Committee, which met several times to study the propositions.
“They worked extremely hard,” he said. “It was unanimous that they wanted it implemented. “ Trustee Charles Riley moved that the election be ordered, and the trustees voted unanimously to approve it. Trustee MaryAnn Stromeyer was not in attendance.
Trustees also voted to appoint Deborah Stenulson as election judge and Tony Vela as Alternate Judge for the May 14 election, which will also include the Blanco Groundwater Preservation, and the city of Blanco. Amy Hulbert, Margie Keutz, Gay Armke, and Kim Watt have all consented to serve as election clerks. Early voting clerks will be Landa Lassberg and Olga Campa.
In his Superintendent’s Report, Dr. Ford announced that all three campuses hosted Open Houses during Texas Public Schools Week, March 7-11. He announced an Early Release day for March 23. Schools will close at 12 noon in order for Blanco High to host district UIL competition. He also announced that six teachers – Howard Seltzer, Lara Davis, Robert Lackey, David Shirk, Kippling Spencer, and Tish Sauerhoff – and two cafeteria workers have given early resignation notification as part of budget reduction efforts The incentive did not apply to the cafeteria workers. The administrative staff met on March 7 and reached the decision that no staff would be laid off. Matt Herden thanked them for their hard work in dealing with the funding cuts.
Maintenance Director Tony Petri thanked the trustees for recognizing the work of custodial staff and maintenance workers. He said that the district has consistently received high marks from the state health inspectors, who come unannounced twice a year. He also praised the expertise of the maintenance staff, who possess skills which enable the district to do many maintenance and construction projects in-house, saving the district a great deal of money.
The weight room conversion and construction of a maintenance shed were two examples he cited. Matt Herden thanked Petri and his staff, saying, “They do a great job.”
In the monthly “Spotlight” segment, Blanco Middle School principal Jesse Salazar recognized the English/Language Arts teachers for being “examples of educators who strive for excellence.” Linda Collard, Brooke Kotfas, Tish Sauerhoff, and Stephanie Taylor were recognized. Blanco High School principal Dustin Barton recognized the members of the Lady Panthers basketball team—Micaela Klein, Lindsey Jenkins, Abbey Weaver, Justine Cooley, Kayla Martinez, Felicia Skillman, Leslie McClinton, Susannah Campbell, Elise Edmondson, and Meaghen Seales. The team finished second in the district this year with a 6-2 record and were 17-8 overall for the season.
In other business, trustees approved the 2011-2012 school calendar. Students will report on August 22 and school will end May 31, 2012. November 23-25 will be Thanksgiving break, December 23-January 2 will be Christmas break, and March 12-16 will be spring break.
Finally, trustees received ballots to vote for Place 5, Region XIII Board of Directors, approved the Certification of Instructional Materials for 2011-2012, and approved the District Improvement Plan developed by the local site-based team. Curriculum director Kathy Anderson thanked members of the team for their “tremendous effort to improve the performance of students.”