SISD continues technology progress

During the SISD (Sweetwater Independent School District) Board of Trustees' meeting on Monday night, September 17, an update was given on the iPad initiative within the district. Recently, due to a grant obtained by the district Director of Educational Technology, Mike Marlett, the seventh graders will be the next class to have iPads for their studies--almost a year ahead of the district's timeline.Next Tuesday, September 25, a meeting will be held for seventh grade parents and students to learn about the program and for students to get their mobile device. This timing is significantly earlier than anticipated, but this will allow students to begin their transition at a quicker rate.Training continues with seventh grade teachers, which has proven beneficial in a number of ways. Some teachers are staffed for both seventh and eighth grade, thus already having some experience with the iPad. So far, the technological shift at the middle school has been a positive venture.In making the transition into the high school, an Algebra class will soon be taking part in a "flipped" class--where instruction is done through video off campus and students complete assignments in the classroom.Also during the Superintendent's report, an enrollment report was given, with the student count standing at 2,197 as of September 12. This is an increase of 88 students from the first day of classes.The number of transfer students were discussed with enrollment, as area schools continue to offer more programs like dual credit courses, AP classes and other higher education incentives. Dual credit--offered at Sweetwater ISD--allow students a unique opportunity of live instructors, rather than virtual classrooms.The dual credit classes also allow for students to transfer their credits to state colleges and universities through a common numbering system. These programs make for a competitive school market, with SISD doing their part by placing billboards promoting the district around town and on each campus.A construction update was given as well, with tweaks being made in the HVAC project. While teachers have a two-degree variance control in their room, McKinstry--the company overseeing the construction--is measuring to see if the rooms are reaching their respective temperatures.With the new gas tanks, work continues in which the underground tanks will be filled with sand. The final result of the project should pose no environmental concern and will be in compliance.Other smaller projects are also being undertaken, like tiling in some of the schools between now and the Christmas holidays.In addition, a brief discussion was held regarding the upcoming legislative session. Superintendent Terry Pittman noted that at an upcoming conference he will attend, student vouchers--a concept pushed by some Republicans and Tea Party candidates--will be a hot topic. Many questions are still up in the air about the idea and its possibility, with school finance also to be discussed.Also in the Superintendent's report, the board will undergo training sometime in October; all eight members are required to attend the four-hour training seminar.Tax collections were reported at 97.11%, or $5,522,152.51--an amount that exceeds the goal of 96%. While a new hire for paraprofessional personnel was acknowledged, one new hire was approved in professional personnel changes. Additional approval was given on the adjunct faculty agreement with the Fisher County Extension Office, as well as the resolution regarding the extracurricular status of the 4-H Organization. These annual agreements allow for involvement with the program to be counted as a school activity with outside advisors.In addition, the CDA local policy, which deals with other revenues and investments, was approved. Review of the policy takes place annually, with no changes made.The consent agenda was also approved, which is made up of the minutes of the August 30, 2012 regular meeting, the investment statement, a delinquent tax lot bid which meets requirements, as well as the August 2012 financial statement and bills.