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Front Page October 19, 2010  RSS feed

Lone Star presents petition to BISD

Board outlaws K-2
By Vanessa Goodwyn

With a delegation of supporters in attendance, spokesperson Barbara Johnson (upper right) formally presented the Lone Star School District’s petition to the Buffalo ISD School Board at Monday night’s board meeting. The Board has set a hearing for November 18. Photo by Mac Shadix. With a delegation of supporters in attendance, spokesperson Barbara Johnson (upper right) formally presented the Lone Star School District’s petition to the Buffalo ISD School Board at Monday night’s board meeting. The Board has set a hearing for November 18. Photo by Mac Shadix. The BISD School Board meeting on October 18 was held before a good-sized gallery composed primarily of residents of the old Lone Star School District who were present in a show of support for the petition which was being presented. That opportunity came late in the meeting. Spokesperson Barbara Johnson read a lengthy letter as she delivered the petition to the Buffalo board -- the first of three presentations to local districts which would be affected by the proposed measure. Proponents wish to detach what was the old Lone Star School District from Oakwood ISD, with the taxable property ($45 million) annexed into Buffalo and Centerville. Johnson's presentation suggested that most of the students in residences which would be affected already transfer out of OISD, so "the educational impact on the students of OISD will not change, the social impact on all districts would be minor, and (the proposed changes) would have minor economic impact on any of the three districts involved." She concluded by asking the BISD Board to pass a resolution to accept the petition of detachment and annexation. Asked if the petitioners had retained legal counsel on the matter, Johnson responded, "We thought about it but we can't afford it." The board set up a hearing on the matter, slated for November 18, 2010 at 6:00 p.m.

In another hearing that started Monday's meeting, BISD Business Manager Jeannine Myers reported on the school's FIRST rating assigned by the state (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas). The rating is based upon 22 separate indicators identified by criteria acquired through PEEMS and the district's annual audit for the 2008-09 school year. BISD has consistenly scored well in recent years, but this year the district attained a perfect score of 80. Superintendent Jackie Thomason acknowledged the hard work of Myers and the staff which contributed to the district earning the 'Superior Achievement' ranking.

BHS Principal Robb Dean brought a request that the Board make a change in the current Student Code of Conduct to address the synthetic marijuana product, K2. Noting that K2 products have been in the local news, and recently banned in the city of Centerville, Dean stated, “While it is not yet illegal in the state or in Leon County...realized that we’ve got a hole in our Student Code of Conduct... I just want to take pro-active step on something that probably coming, until the State takes a stand.” The Board responded by adopting an amendment to the Student Code of Conduct. Effective immediately, the disciplinary action (DAEP) for pos- session, use or distribution of controlled substances will also apply to synthetic marijuana, synthetic cannabis and substances commonly known as “Spice”, “K2” “Genie”, “Zohai” and “Salvia Divinorum”. Expressing his appreciation for the Board’s action, Principal Dean concluded, “With this change I can say, ‘The police can’t do anything about it, but WE can’.”

The Board has been wanting to begin scheduling public forums to better communicate with the community regarding the vision of the district. At Monday’s meeting they agreed to set the meetings up this coming December, February and April.

Superintendent Thomason reported that Buffalo Elementary, Junior High and BISD will be honored for academic achievement at the TEA annual Region 6 awards ceremony on October 27.

BJHS Principal Lacy Freeman gave the State of the Campus report. He reviewed the challenges of moving onto two campuses, integrating technology and staff changes. He also gave an update on the extracurricular activities and acknowledged that the higher standards ‘on the horizon’ will make testing tougher this year.

Mr. Thomason reported on his research on lease agreements for oil and gas exploration on BISD property. No action was taken.

At the Board’s request, Jim Hanks had submitted new designs for bathrooms/ concession stands at the new stadium. After reviewing the new plan, the Board authorized Mr. Thomason to proceed with steps to put the project out to bid.

In routine agenda items: - The Board considered the Superintendent’s reports on enrollment (934 current total), school safety, and facilities. - Trustee Jack Helmcamp, who presided over the meeting, suggested combining the yard maintenance at all district properties under one grounds crew - Academic Coordinator Tracy Gleghorn reported that the district’s teaching staff is now 100% ‘highly qualified’ and the para-professional staff percentages meet requirements. She also reported on various committeess serving the district. - The Board renewed the district’s insurance on buildings and vehicles through TASB, but suggested that Ms. Myers check on an additional umbrella policy to cover large civil suits. - Campus Improvement Plans for each campus and needs assessments were reviewed and approved as presented. - The Board approved the Tax Roll Levy, which totalled $4,859,611 (including Freestone and Leon County.) - Due to changes in laws, three local policies were adopted which related to (1) retention and promotion; (2) electronic communication and data management, (3) employee standards of conduct in regard to electronic media. Mr. Thomason summed it up in laymen’s terms: “As an employee of the district... realize that what you put out there (electronic media, social networks, etc) represents the district, and employees will be held to a high standard and subject to disciplinary action.”

Finally, the Board heard a request from Trustee Ron Goodwyn, who is establishing the Bill R Swetmon Educational Endowment Fund. An initial donation of $10,000 has been made to set up the 501c3 fund through the East Texas Community Foundation, which will be available to BISD teachers to further graduate studies, to fund special classroom projects and for other educational services and teacher training. The board agreed to take responsibility to oversee the fund.

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