The SISD (Sweetwater Independent School District) Board of Trustees were recognized at their regular meeting on Monday evening, Jan. 23, 2012.
As this month has been named School Board Recognition Month in Sweetwater, Nolan County Judge Tim Fambrough was in attendance to read the proclamation to the board members. The document praised their commitment to children and their education; the ongoing work with parents, staff and community members; establishing a firm foundation in local education; and supporting local and public education for the district.
Each board member was given a copy of the proclamation, along with a certificate of appreciation from SISD Superintendent Terry Pittman on behalf of the district.
During the meeting, a campus report from Southeast was heard from the school's principal, Peggy Elliott. She offered a breakdown of the school's demographics, noting that the school currently has 211 kindergartners and 204 first graders for a total of 415 students.
Ms. Elliott took the board members through a typical day at the campus, starting with the students gathering in the gym before teachers pick up their students at 7:45 a.m. Upon arrival, breakfast is served in each classroom.
Certified learning methods — including workbook, computer and group — were discussed with pictures of each rotation shown. Also mentioned was the core content time, which fully implements the C-Scope curriculum.
Technology is readily evident on the campus as each class has the Mimio interactive teaching tool along with the Elmo system and projector. In addition, each class has five computers which run on the same system. Classes also have reading time in small groups and individually.
Resource and speech services are also taught at Southeast, where the Imagine Learning Reading Lab is applied. Students also frequent the library, which offers a number of books based on grade level as well as books within the Accelerated Reader program.
Vestibular equipment, which assists with motivation and coordination, is also utilized. But beyond the curriculum, Life Skills, hallway and common area procedures and Character Education are taught to students.
Photos were also shown of students during their health and PE (physical education) classes, as well as in the cafeteria during lunch time. For students using the district's lunch plan, they must learn a 5-digit number to type into a key pad.
Also at Southeast, students are recognized for perfect attendance and making the honor roll during an assembly each six weeks. Other incentives and community projects presented were the Gold Ticket winners, the Rotary Club shoe spree and the canned food drive, among others.
The PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) has been a vital asset to the school this year with a number of projects. The group has headed up the Box Tops for Education contest, hosted around 700 people at this year's Fall Festival, sells popcorn and pickles and will work on the yearbook. In addition, the school also has teams and committees that collaborate and meet on a variety of issues.
Pictures were shown of the students waiting for the bus at the end of the day. While there has been some voiced concerns, Ms. Elliott noted that work continues in ensuring safe and efficient pick up and drop off procedures.
The report concluded with informing the board of an upcoming event on March 2, Read Across America Day. The school will celebrate through Dr. Seuss Day, where community volunteers will read to the students.
Several action items were also presented at the meeting. The board approved the Performance Contract Request for Qualifications (RFQ) so that McKinstry can begin renovations around the entire district.
Four representatives with McKinstry were at the meeting to discuss the two projects being examined. The first project, the Cool Schools grant, allows the district to earn around $1.1 million in free air conditioning by replacing antiquated equipment. The second project would give the district additional savings by making energy efficient updates through lighting and water.
McKinstry laid out the plan for the two individual projects from start to finish from both a manual and financial perspective. The company also noted that they will follow up upon completion of the projects to ensure the district is earning the guaranteed savings.
The RFQ will allow for a study to be conducted and submitted for approval. The goal for the proposed timeline is that the projects will be completed before the 2012-2013 school year begins.
Additionally, approval was also given to make changes to the EIA local policy and End of Course testing regulations. A clause regarding credits, which was initially approved, was deleted through the approval.
Sweetwater High School principal Stacy Jones was at the meeting to discuss the issue with the board. An end of course exam now counts for 15% of a student's final grade, which is evenly divided among the two semesters.
Should a student pass only one semester — thus earning only half a credit for the class, options are available to gain the credit and raise their overall score. Credit recovery classes can be taken or the student can retake their end of course exam to gain the half credit. Once the full credit is received, the grade will stand as final.
Through a collaboration with area schools, districts understand that some students may struggle in taking tests. Yet, this plan is jointly being used in the surrounding districts to avoid issues with transferring.
Mr. Jones also noted that as the new state-mandated test draws near, many school districts — SISD included — are still unaware of what the test will entail or what the passing standard will be as the state has not released that information.
The board also approved a one-year extension with a salary increase to the Superintendent's contract, along with the consent agenda which consisted of the minutes from the Dec. 19 meeting, the investment statement, the delinquent tax lot bids, and the financial statements and bills for December 2011.
One issue that required no action from the board was the new Home School Plan. As the district has seen an increase in parents withdrawing their children to begin home schooling, the new plan will make sure that parents are aware of the responsibilities and thought that goes into the process.
An interview will be conducted in which parents will state what curriculum they will be using, some of which includes application and monthly fees. Once the withdrawal paperwork and procedures are completed, the school as well as the Justice of the Peace will verify through visits that parents are being compliant with their home schooling agreement. If not, the Justice of the Peace can file a report and truancy can be filed.
The new plan was prompted in part by the 18-person decrease in secondary enrollment which was noted during the Superintendent's Report. Enrollment for the entire district, as of Jan. 17, stands at 2,252 — a 62-person increase from the first day of classes.
The monthly report from Wallace Accelerated High School was also given, with 13 anticipated graduates with two "completers" pending state testings. In addition, tax collections were reported at 27.22%.
A report from the 2011 concession stand sales was given, with almost $60,000 earned. The profit came in around $32,000; $28,700 was earned by school organizations as fundraisers while the remaining amount was raised for district improvements.
Also, the dates for the February and March board meetings have been postponed for a week due to district holidays. The February meeting will be held on the 27th, and the March meeting will take place on the 26th.