School board renews administration contracts, accepts resignations

The Italy School Board of Trustees approved contracts for the 2014-2015 school year and accepted staff resignations Monday evening at the board’s monthly meeting.

Trustees unanimously approved renewing contracts for Lee Joffre, high school principal; Charles Tindol, athletic director; Melissa Bedard, Stafford Elementary counselor; and Natasha Blackburn, business manager; following a 40-minute executive session.

They also approved the non-renewal of term contract employee Beverly Cox as part of reduction in force, per recommendation by Henry Lind, interim superintendent.

Trustees also accepted the resignation of Jonathan Nash, Stafford Elementary principal, and Dora Bassett, Spanish teacher.

Joffre said he has a Spanish-speaking teacher’s aide that has a degree in education. He said she will take over the Spanish classes until they find a replacement.

Tindol presented the trustees with a proposal for a softball and baseball scoreboards. Total cost for the two is $13,200. Tindol said the scoreboards should be ready within the month, if approved. Trustees approved the purchase unanimously.

In other business, the group voted to set the upcoming school board election for May 10 simultaneously with the City of Italy. Elections will be held in the Italy Boze Community Center.

Trustees also approved a 2014-2015 district calendar. Lind said he presented the staff the calendar with nine questions. He said overwhelmingly, the staff wanted to end the school year in May, wanted a two-week break at Christmas and a week-long break at Thanksgiving. He said to end in May, they had to cut the Thanksgiving break to three-and-a-half days. They also approved the waiver of three instructional days for staff development.

In other business, Lind was instructed to come back to the trustees with a facilities usage policy and procedure update regarding the usage of school facilities.

Danette Dearing, administrative assistant to the superintendent, said she has had several calls lately wanting to rent a classroom, the band hall, the library. She said they found an old policy in place with pricing but said it was extremely outdated.

Trustees authorized Lind to update the existing policy with pricing that will cover all costs to the district. They limited the rental of the school to the three gymnasiums and two cafeterias.

The group tabled an item to add sound baffles to the dome to assist with sound quality. The cost for the additional baffles would be $17,000. Lind said he couldn’t guarantee it would clear up all the sound issues at the dome but he said it would help. He said the acoustics work on the dome had never been completed which is why the sound quality is so poor in the facility.

Russ Lewis said he didn’t want to spend $17,000 without knowing for certain that these items would correct the issue.

Michael Chambers, maintenance director, said they had been to a dome recently that had no issues with the sound.

They decided to wait and allow an architectural firm they heard earlier in the evening study this issue. The trustees heard a brief overview from Dale Rabe of Architects Rabe & Partners of Austin to do a facilities assessment.

Rabe presented a slide show highlighting schools, churches, gymnasiums, libraries and meeting pavilions his firm has been part of constructing

Locally, they drew up plans for Ferris elementary, high school, field house and sports complex as well as Red Oak High School.

Rabe said they work with large and small school districts and said no two schools look alike. He said they get input from the administration, staff and teachers about what type of facility is needed before they proceed.

They begin by visiting the campus site and assessing needs. They determine, based on the age of the facility, whether new construction or renovation would be required.

In other business, Nathan Umanos with Harrison, Walker and Harper spoke on behalf of the Kornei Johnson Youth Center proposed by her father James Johnson.

Umanos, vice president of the organization, said they have done a schematics drawing and realize they don’t need as much acreage as originally planned so they are seeking an alternate location for the proposed facility. Umanos said the original location was near the elementary school but concluded that the facility — which would include a football field, track, field house, pool and community center – be located closer to the high school.

Umanos urged the district to keep this in mind as they proceed with the needs assessment for the school district and suggested a cooperative agreement with the organization.

Paul Cockerham, school board president, told Umanos that if someone came forward with funds, the school board would be “shooting themselves in the foot” not to consider an agreement of some type.

During campus reports Joffre updated trustees about testing, college and post high school readiness, spring activities, the 2014-2015 school year and dual credit options.

Joffre said he and Erica Miller, high school counselor, visited Navarro College to discuss adding classes which will allow students to graduate with an associate degree. He said students will have the option to take dual credit classes starting their freshman year. He said the classes would be offered via the internet.

The principal met with officials from Milford and Avalon ISDs and said they offer dual credit classes via the internet and have an extremely high passing rate.

He said the new high school degree plan options for 2014-2015 include foundation, endorsement and distinguished. The endorsement route requires students to focus on Stem, business and industry, public services, multidisciplinary studies, arts and humanities. A graduate must take the distinguished degree in order to be considered in the top 10 percent of the class.

He said the parents of students entering the ninth grade will be required to approve their child’s particular graduation route.

Chambers, during his report, said the maintenance crews are busy with spring athletics, field trips, working on the football field drainage issue and preparing the landscape at the ag barn.

Coach Tindol said they are preparing a girl’s off season training regime.

He also said that many schools in the basketball district are too far away for junior high students. He has put together nearby districts for the junior high – Itasca, Frost, Wortham, Hubbard and Dawson.

Trustees also approved minutes of previous meetings, utility report, transportation report, January check payments, monthly investment/cash position, the January financial statement and tax collections.

Student enrollment as of Feb. 20 is 515 students – 284 at Stafford and 231 at the high school. Refined average daily attendance is at 96.89 percent.