Many presentations at SISD board meeting

January 25, 2011

Sweetwater Mayor Greg Wortham presented a proclamation honoring the Sweetwater ISD School Board Trustees. He is shown with SISD School Board President Jeanie McPherson. (Photo by Kathy Smartt)

Many awards and celebrations were on hand at the regular session meeting of the SISD Board of Trustees on Thursday night, Jan. 20, held at the Administration Building.
Two monetary donations were received from Charlie Peek with Brookshire's and Jackie Alvarez of Coca-Cola. The board approved the donations to be used for the general fund. Another gift given to the school board was a plaque from Steve Ellinger with CADCO. The company was in charge of the renovations done with the concession stands in Mustang Bowl as well as other improvements around the district.
Two widely recognized donations were also approved by the board during the evening. One of the gifts was from Ron Stein with TST Corporation. Stein is donating $12,000 to the district and will be used to purchase a new scoreboard in the high school gym. Another gift received was the donation from Sweetwater alumni Larry Durham. Durham is donating $250,000 over the next five years to finance the turf replacement inside the Mustang Bowl.
Because of Durham's donation, the actual football field will now be called Durham Field. However, the stadium will still be known as Mustang Bowl, in contrast to rumors that stated a name change for the football arena. The school board strongly wanted to make the clarification that Durham Field would be located inside Mustang Bowl.
With January being declared by Governor Rick Perry as School Board Recognition Month, Mayor Greg Wortham also made a proclamation to the board to recognize the school board and thank them for their hard work. At their respective seats, school board members were greeted with goodies and treats from all the campuses within the district and were even served a full-course meal during the meeting. All of the gestures were ways to honor and show appreciation to the board.
Also presented during the meeting were the Gold Star Performance Acknowledgment Awards for 2010. The district itself was named as a "Recognized" district, while Sweetwater Middle School was named as a "Recognized" campus. SHS and Hobbs Alternative Ed Co-op were named Academically Acceptable campuses. The three Exemplary campuses named were Southeast Elementary, East Ridge Elementary, and Sweetwater Intermediate School. Overall, 10 Gold Stars were awarded to the school district for their commended performance in TAKS testing.
The 2009-2010 AEIS Report for SISD coincides with the Gold Star Awards that were presented. The Gold Star Acknowledgment, or GPA, recognizes campuses and the district for their high performance. In order to earn a GPA, a minimum commended score of 30% for all subgroups must be attained in each academic area.
While the awards are proof of the great improvements made within the school district, they also help the district project for the next year. However, higher standards are being set for next year's GPAs, and with the new standardized test, award achievements will stand for two years instead of being awarded yearly. No comments were made during the public hearing, and the board approved the AEIS report.
A campus report was presented during the meeting by East Ridge Elementary. Presenters were teachers Tonya Dowden and Tammi Stafford, with paraprofessional Kara Warren, counselor Peggy Elliott and new principal Wes Hays on hand.
The faculty members discussed the certified kindergarten program, the Bridges SOI lab, and the character program being implemented within the campus. Two kindergarten students, along with Dowden, showed the board what is being taught within the Character Program. Students are learning traits like integrity and flexibility to use in their daily lives.
Stafford discussed the Bridges/SOI program, citing "tremendous success". The labs serve students in all grade levels, where students are given routine and structure in order to reach goals such as focus and self control.
Teachers are seeing results from the lab through high marks in TAKS testing such as students reaching Commended status. Regular labs are also offered as well, and the program continues to grow. An Open House is scheduled yearly for parents to visit and see for themselves what is going on in the lab. This year's Open House is tentatively set for sometime in March.
Another report presented was by Cathy Wilks, sharing the district's audit report for the past year. Though the year proved to be challenging, it was a good year nonetheless. Wilks highly complimented the board for their great job in keeping up with the continuous changes in rules. The district complied and received a good and clean report from the audit, and the board approved the audit report.
The consent agenda was approved as well at the meeting, which consisted of the minutes from the Dec. 13 meeting, the financial statement and bills from the past month and the investment statement. The delinquent tax lot bids were also discussed, as the property on Morris Circle had been advertised. The board received a bid, yet the bid was well below the minimum. The board made an approval to not accept the bid that had been offered.
During the meeting, the board voted and approved to extend superintendent Terry Pittman's contract for a year and a raise in salary. Another approval was the superintendent's recommendation for a new hire within the school district. The board was also informed of other personnel changes. They include one reassignment and four resignations which included two paraprofessionals, one nurse and a Hobbs teacher.
The superintendent's report also noted that enrollment in the district is down since the last meeting. A drop in enrollment is common after the holidays, but the numbers are eight higher from this time last year. The tax collections were also reported, in that 28.16% has been collected. This percentage equates to $1,863,397.66.
Another report was given on the concession stands. Various organizations with the school and the community can run the concession stands, with quite a bit of money being raised. The board discussed that the money that is raised by the organization goes back to their agency's funds.
One announcement that was made during the meeting was that a special meeting will be held on Feb. 3, at 11:30 a.m. The mid-day meeting would be held in order for the board to meet to discuss a contract with Moak and Casey. The contract is being set for the board to enter negotiations with TENASKA. Various tables within the contract must be corrected, however, and once finalized the contract would be sent to the state Comptroller. Also discussed during the meeting will be the State Funding Report.

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