Italy ISD receives perfect score on Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas

In a public hearing Monday night, Italy ISD reported that they had received a perfect score on the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) for 2014. An achievement rating of 70 is the highest possible score a school district can receive. This is the second year in a row Italy has received a perfect score of 70.

The Texas Education Agency (TEA) developed this system in 1999. The primary goal is to achieve quality performance in the management of a school district’s financial resources. In the last twelve years, Italy has only been substandard one year.

“When it comes to securing grants, our rating will help,” said Superintendent Jaime Velasco. “They will know we can take care of the money we are asking for.”

In the regular meeting, Velasco furnished the board with an appraisal instrument for the superintendent. He told the board the main goad for the district was to improve student performance.

“We want to increase enrollment and continuity by retaining our staff,” Velasco said. He explained all aspects of the appraisal system. The guideline will assist the board with evaluating the superintendent.

Lee Joffre, High School Principal, reported an attendance rate of 97.65%. He also told the board that the passing rate is 98%. He reported on school safety improvement measures.

“We are updating our Emergency Management Plan,” Joffre reported. “We have also purchased the Raptor System to increase safety for our schools. Once the system is installed, a visitor will swipe their ID like a driver’s license and the system will check to determine if the visitor is on a sexual predator list. The system will print out a pass with the visitor’s picture on it."

He also reported that they will be participating in the Shattered Dreams program in the spring. Police Chief Shawn Martin is leading this. The district is also collaborating with Italy PD for an active shooter drill in December.

“We are participating with Dress for Success at Navarro College on October 22, 2014. We want our students to dress like they would for a job interview. This will be good training for them.”

He also reported both campuses would participate in the Veterans’ Day Ceremony on November 11th.

Athletic Director, Charles Tindol, told the board that several people have voiced concerns regarding basketball tournaments. He said that there would be a girls’ tournament, but not a boys’ tournament.

“The last two years our boys have not been able to play in our own tournament because they were still paying football,” Tindol said. “We lost money both years. So this year I made the decision not to host a boys tournament.”

“I also decided not to practice on our football field to give the grass time take hold. We practice on the practice field and the baseball field. I stand behind both of these decisions.”

He also said the football team had a rocky game last week. He said they played hard but gave away 45 points the first half. He said Italy won the second half 8-6.

“I would like to see the boys tournament continue,” Larry Eubank said. “We could move it later in the year like the second weekend in December or even during the Christmas break.”

Tindol told him that was possible for next year.

Michael Chambers, Maintenance Director, gave his report. He said the new bus would be here early next week. He also said that the lift they purchased for the shop would also be here soon. He reported that they would begin working on the softball and baseball fields very soon. They will begin planting rye grass on both fields in the near future.

“The teachers and principals are doing a better job of turning in work orders,” he said. “We still need them to do better with this so we can take care of things in a timely manner.”

“We are working on the dressing room for the softball team,” Chambers reported. “It is a 24 × 16 building. Several people have donated materials for this. We plan for the project to be complete within 3 weeks."

Mr. Velasco reported on the District Improvement and Campus Improvement plans. These are tied to the goals of the district. He said that each campus met the standards for the 2013/2014 accountability rating. He shared information about the following objectives:

1. All students will graduate ready for college, career and life in a globally competitive economy. He said that the High School Allotment fund would pay tuition for dual credit classes for all students.

2. Instructional staff will become proficient in use of existing hardware and software to improve classroom management and instruction. He said that the instructional staff would participate in a Professional Learning Community to learn innovative scientifically based instructional strategies that improve instruction in the classroom.

3. The District will provide and document opportunities for parents to become active participants and partners in their child’s education.

4. Violence Prevention and Intervention activities will be implemented to ensure a safe and orderly environment

5. The District shall increase student enrollment by 3% each year for the next three years. The District shall retain 90% of it is instructional and administrative staff for the 2014/2015 school year.

The board approved the District Improvement Plan and the Campus Improvement Plan.

The board discussed purchasing playground equipment for Stafford Elementary. They were presented with several options. They voted to postpone any decision for purchase until the Principal, Mrs. Thomas, is present at the next meeting.