The SISD (Sweetwater Independent School District) Board of Trustees met for its regular session meeting on Monday evening, April 18 at the Administration Building.
A variety of presentations were made at the meeting, recognizing individuals, groups and schools for their high honors. A resolution for seven different school entities were read by school board members, and each participant, teacher and principal received a copy.
The programs were for the SHS (Sweetwater High School) Band members Crysten Ivy and Chase Scott for their Superior Division I rating at Solo & Ensemble Competition that qualifies them for state competition; SHS DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America) state qualifiers Genea Cherry, Joselyn Gonzales, Adrian Lopez, Gabriel Medellin, Sarah Romero and Tish Torres; SHS FCCLA (Family, Career & Community Leaders Of America) state qualifiers Kierstan Hernandez, Jenny Ordway and Jenny Smola; and SHS state qualifiers in powerlifting — Ryan Linebaugh, Sam Nemir, Briana Munoz and Kelsey Painter.
Two SMS groups with a number of members were also presented with resolutions. The SMS chapter of TMSCA (Texas Math and Science Coaches Association), which consists of 13 sixth, seventh and eighth graders, had three teams and six individuals who qualified for state. Also, the SMS Girls' Choir was recognized for their First Division ratings in both competitions of Contest and Sightreading — earning the group the coveted Sweepstakes honor — and is made up of 31 seventh and eighth graders.
Recognition was also given to the three schools within the district for earning the Title I Distinguished Performance School Awards. East Ridge Elementary, Southeast Elementary and Sweetwater Intermediate School were selected as part of the elite group. SISD was the only school district in Region 14 to have more than one school selected.
The campus report for the evening was for Southeast Elementary. Principal Vicki Mayberry was on hand with four students from the school who informed the board members of the school's programs and progress. They were Savannah Little (K), Trey Jimenez (first grade), Danner Foust (second grade) and D’onna Washington (third grade).
Savannah told how the school teaches a new social skill each week to students. They learn traits such as respect, good manners during lunch, hygiene in the bathrooms and participate in random acts of kindness. Trey continued the report, citing the Accelerated Reader program where students can read a wide selection of books and offers a variety of incentives.
Danner followed, discussing the computer programs at the school, including "Imagine Learning". Concluding the report was D'onna, stating that the school is striving to make lifelong learners of the students through responsibility, good study habits and attending school, in which they can receive rewards such as gift cards and a bike. The school board highly praised the youngsters on a job well done with their memorized presentations.
A few action items were presented at the meeting. The consent agenda was approved, which is made up of the minutes from the regular meeting held on March 28, the financial statement and bills for the month of March, and the investment statement.
In addition, new policies regarding employee contracts and agreements within three local areas were approved. The DCA is being added to the already in place DCB group. However, changes were made in the second group to coincide with changes made in the DCE category.
Whereas the previous condition was set for agreements to be offered 45 days before the last instruction day, it has now been changed to the last day of school. The changes and clarifications in wording were prompted and made as a result of some legislation and will now help the district in budgeting. The time frame will now allow principals to evaluate TAKS scores before any rehiring as well.
The DCA now states that late hires no longer need a probationary contract. Changes were made for eligible positions such as principals, teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses, while new hires will now have a three-year probationary period.
The DCB deals with term contracts; the DCE deals with semester and annual employment. In the past, a number of days was set for the contract, but a decade long lawsuit spurred a change to list employment at 10 months. Slight changes were made for resignation dates, and employment agreements were specified for those employees who do not work in a classroom setting.
Also considered were new contract forms recommended by the district's legal team Schwartz & Eichelbaum, which were approved as well. Six contracts were presented to the board: the multi-assignment probationary contract, multi-year term contract, probationary contract, one-year term contract, multi-assignmnet one-year term contract, and employee agreements.
The multi-assignment probationary contract will now specify 10 months for the contract, beginning when the employee reports for duty. The multi-year term contract will now state a change of up to 5% decrease should the district find itself in a financial crunch and a deadline will now be set on the contract offer. The board was reassured that notification of the changes will be made, which will help the district avoid issues in the future.
One item which required no action was the increase in dual credit tuition from Western Texas College. The hourly rate now stands at $52 per hour, resulting in the typical three hour class to now cost $196. A trust strictly for education that has been used in the past to finance the program will still be used to offset some of the cost, yet students will still be responsible for paying to participate in the classes. Funds are available for those who desire to take the classes yet need the financial assistance.
In the Superintendent's report, four personnel changes were reported. One resignation and two retirements will take place in professional personnel, and one retirement was named in paraprofessional personnel.
Tax collections stand at 94.40%, equaling $6,245,761.01, and has been above projections for the past two years, year to date. Regarding enrollment, the district has 19 students more than this time last year, yet a concern was raised in the retention numbers.
Two upcoming events were also mentioned for board members to participate in, a summer leadership institute and a budget workshop slated for Wednesday, April 20. A brief overview of some recently received TAKS scores was made, with high scores reported at SIS. More TAKS testing is currently taking place, Tuesday through Friday, April 26-30.
The report also stated the new Board Officer Rotation. Becky Jimenez will now serve as President, with Gail Lawrence in the Vice President role and Russ Petty in the capacity of Secretary. Other Trustee members serving on the board will be Nancy Johnson, Ginny Mayes, Jeanie McPherson and new board member Mark Meneses.