At their regular meeting on October 13, trustees of the Blanco Independent School District heard concerns from the Concerned Citizens Association about problems of drug abuse and vandalism in the community. “The main thing is to acknowledge that we have a problem,” asserted spokesperson Gene Collins. Suggestions to combat drug use offered by Collins included re-instituting the DARE program at the elementary level, a “Scared Straight” program at the high school level, an on-campus security officer at the high school, more frequent use of drug dogs, surveillance cameras in the high school parking lot, and increased support for teachers in dealing with students exhibiting signs of drug use.
Coincidentally, superintendent Dr. Buck Ford reported to the board that Red Ribbon Week, in which drug awareness is stressed, is coming up October 24-31 for middle and high school students and October 27-31 for elementary students. Activities at the elementary school will include anti-drug activities led by the counselor, a drug-free poster contest, and dress-up days. The middle school will host two motivational speakers as well as a dress-up week with different themes each day, and high school students will see an HBO DVD on the negative consequences of drug use. Other activities will include a poster contest, and students will write essays on how drug use has affected them, directly or indirectly.
Dr. Ford also informed those in attendance that the district has met its Adequate Yearly Progress goals. The results were to be released on October 14. Trustees Troy Immel, MaryAnn Weaver, and Matt Herden attended the annual TASB/TASA Convention recently in Dallas, and each gave a brief report on useful information they had gleaned. Relay for Life will be held at the Blanco High School football stadium April 25th and 26th, and the Blanco County Aggie Moms will run a shuttle from the BHS parking lot to the square for the 2009 Lavender Festival as a fundraiser for scholarships.
On a divided vote, trustees approved an agreement between the district and Fromberg Associates for consultation services involving the construction of six new tennis courts on the high school campus. Trustee Charles Riley questioned whether paying a 7 per cent fee to a consultant is justified. Superintendent Ford countered that the Alvarado school district had what he called “a disaster” because of a poor choice of contractor and ensuing construction errors. Trustee Bernie San Miguel called hiring a consultant “a good insurance policy” to make sure the courts meet all standards. Trustee Troy Immel moved to go ahead and approve the agreement and the motion passed with two dissenting votes—Charles Riley and Dr. David Behrends.
Blanco Special Education Co-op director and assistant Gale Brown presented information to the trustees on the pros and cons of withdrawing from the four-district co-op under which Blanco special ed students receive services. BISD has been a member for at least 12 years and pays $31K a month to the fiscal agent, Dripping Springs ISD. Pros included more personalized services for students and stronger collaboration within the district; however, some service providers such as physical or occupational therapists might be difficult to hire for a single district. The decision would take effect for the 2009-2010 school year. Gravenor explained that the number of students receiving special ed services in the BISD has declined over the years.
In other business, trustees approved the selection of TAC Energy Solutions as the energy services company to assist the district in implementing its Energy Consumption Reduction Plan, mandated by TEA. Company owner Bill Savarino explained that his company guarantees energy savings will cover the cost of their services. Trustees also approved a Detailed Energy Audit Agreement “to determine the scope of work, guaranteed savings amount, energy conservation measures, and project price for a comprehensive building improvement program in Blanco Independent School District.”
Trustees also approved the following related to facilities improvements: a recommendation to direct the administration to use the purchasing method that provides the best value for the district in regards to the construction of additional bleachers and bleacher improvements at the athletic fields, approving Sturdisteel as the contractor for the construction of bleachers at the football field for a sum of $109,374, and construction of a weight-room facility at the high school. The present weight room would be re-configured for storage and dressing room space, and a new metal building would be constructed to house the weight room.
Finally, after a demonstration by Technology Director Tom Cozzi, trustees approved the purchase of 60 data projectors and accompanying hardware at a cost of approximately $42K and approved a request by Cozzi to submit an updated Technology Plan to TEA. “We look forward to serving students in the best way possible with the technology available,” concluded Cozzi.