Parents Ann Broyles and Christine McGinnis presented concerns to the trustees of BISD in their regular meeting on November 12. Speaking in the Open Forum portion of the meeting, Broyles praised the teachers at Blanco Elementary as “fine, caring, and experienced,” but questioned the school’s leadership and the freedom of these teachers to express concerns without what she called “fear of repercussions.” She expressed hopes that new superintendent Cliff Gardner will be able to “turn the school district around” and urged community members to support his efforts. She also questioned why the pre-kindergarten program, which her son attended on a tuition basis, will not be available for her daughter, now almost three, to attend. She denied the allegation that parents are just seeking free child care, asserting that they want what she called “the best resources for our children.”
Both speakers decried what they called a decline in facilities at the elementary school, specifically the portable classroom in which the pre-K program is housed, in which penicillium mold has been found. McGinnis also expressed outrage at the condition of the original Blanco School building, now used as a band classroom. She urged parents to become involved in efforts, led by Dr. Shirley Beck, to raise funds for the renovation of the historic structure. In response, BISD trustee president Matt Herden thanked both women for their participation. He explained that a mixture of bleach and water has been used to clean the portable classroom and that a second lab test will be conducted to make sure that the building is safe. He also urged patience while grants are sought for the historic renovation.
In his report, superintendent Cliff Gardner announced that a needs assessment study will be conducted soon, and that facilities are one area to be studied with the help of community input. He also informed the trustees that a food service audit, recently completed, gave the school district a good report. Herden added that the audit was “like nothing I’ve ever seen” in its detail.
Gardner asked each principal for a short report on events at their respective schools. Blanco High principal Duston Barton announced that a motivational speaker from Barbizon Modeling Agency had presented a program to students on building self-confidence. He also announced that a Veteran’s Day program was held at the school and that FFA members had won eight out of twelve events in district competition recently. Athletic director Danny Rogers said that the football team will play Friday night in Abilene and will travel to Killeen next week.
Blanco Middle School principal Dr. Buck Ford announced that the school received two Gold Performance Awards from TEA, one for 7th grade language arts and one for 8th grade social studies. He thanked Bill Mouser and Michelle Davis for their work in preparing students for the TAKS tests on which the awards are based. Ford also recounted that a Veteran’s Day program was held November 9th with the assistance of the Blanco High Panther Band and Boy Scout Troop 497.
Elementary principal Scott Kvapil reported that a math night was held recently to provide parents with tools to assist their students in improving math performance. He also announced that the school will host a UIL district meet this year.
In reviewing the consent agenda, trustee Mary Ann Weaver questioned why an outside vendor was allowed to sell homecoming T-shirts on campus at Blanco High. The principal responded that the T-shirt sale was a fund-raiser for student council but that no council members were available to work at the actual homecoming game. Cliff Gardner added that organizations typically get the merchandise they sell from an outside vendor.
In other business trustees approved the tax resale of properties in Lake of the Hills for $5,600.01, a cost which covers all taxes, penalties, and costs now due. The properties were struck from the tax roles in 2006 and 2007. The board also cast votes for the following nominees to the Blanco County Appraisal District for 2008-09: Mr. Jack Felps, Mr. Harold Lord, and Mr. Johnny Wood. In the election of Board of Directors for Hays Central Appraisal District, trustees voted for Dennis Moore, and for the Kendal County Appraisal District, Mr. Buck Rogers. Finally, trustees heard a second reading of Texas Association of School Boards Update 81, a series of bills passed by the 80th Texas Legislature, which impact the operation of school districts.