The school board of JCISD met on Monday, January 14th, 2013. In honor of the school board, the LBJ High School Student Council treated the members to dinner and then publically thanked them at the meeting. Jaxon Riebesehl presented the student council thank you statement.
During open forum, Dawn Capra read a statement from Matt McKennis regarding a change to school board policy. At the December meeting, McKennis requested that at least one of the school gyms be available for use by the public. Ms. Capra added that since the city does not provide courts or any other recreational facilities, except for the tennis court and softball/soccer field, kids have no place to practice any sport requiring a court. In his statement, McKennis suggested changing the policy to read, “The principal is authorized to approve use of the facilities on a school campus. The coaching staff is authorized to approve use of District athletic facilities. The Superintendent is authorized to approve non-school use of all other District facilities.” The current policy gives the authority for approval of facilities usage to the superintendent or a designee. Also, the policy is limited in its scope regarding the use of facilities by the public. Plus, a fee is required and often a coach must be present to open and close the gym and must remain in the gym while it is in use. No one else spoke during open forum.
The board next considered the consent agenda, which passed unanimously. The first action item dealt with the Program for the Deaf Shared Services Agreement. This is a regional day school program for the deaf in which the district partners with Region XIII for services. Last year, the program cost the district $19,000.00. This year, the district has one student receiving services through the program. Plus, an itinerant teacher (a traveling teacher who often specializes in Special Education programs) is employed to aid in the student’s learning. The cost for this year is not yet known; however, Dr. Truelock believes the cost will be close to last year’s cost. If more services are needed, the district can utilize a cluster site, the closest of which is in Fredericksburg. The board unanimously approved the motion to continue the agreement with Region XIII.
Second up for discussion was consideration of a TASB (Texas Association of School Boards) resolution regarding vouchers, taxpayer savings grants and tax credits that reduce public education funding. Superintendent Shanley said that the TASB resolution basically calls for no diversion of taxpayer money to private schools through these alternate mechanisms because they reduce the funding received by public schools. The board passed this motion unanimously.
Next up for consideration was a review of Policy GKD (local) Non-school Use of School Facilities. The board determined that a committee should be formed to consider the suggestion of Mr. McKennis. Matt Pletcher, Cynthia Keene and Greg Wessels were appointed to serve as members. Mr. Shanley asked that the administration be represented by Dr. Trulock and Principal Julie Storer. Kip Thompson also suggested a member of the athletic staff be appointed to the committee. Mr. Shanley advised the committee use the TASB worksheet for making changes to school board policy since all board policy must go through TASB.
Mr. Thompson inquired about the timing of the committee and when the board could expect a recommendation. Mr. Pletcher said that the last time a change to this policy was considered it took the committee two months before submitting a recommendation to the board. At that time, the board decided not to make any changes. Mr. Thompson said that he sees no reason why the board cannot work out a means in which the public could use a school gym. Johnson City parents should not have to drive their kids to another town in order to practice a sport. He also would like to see a youth league organized in Johnson City, one which has the backing of the district’s coaches.
The last action item up for discussion was the consideration of capital projects and possible action on a bond election. At the last board meeting, the Superintendent reported that through refinancing, the district had been able to lower interest rates on its bonds saving $2 million over the next 16 years. Shanley said that the district is in a unique position because of this savings and could take advantage of the situation by calling for a bond election. He stressed that he is not recommending the board have a bond election, but felt it was his duty to inform the board that if they wanted to call for a bond election, then they must declare their desire to do so by March 1st in order for an election to be held in May. A bond election is only necessary if funds are to be pulled from the I&S account, which is the account used to pay debt service.
Mr. Shanley also said that the board could use funds from the M&O account, or the fund balance account. If the board so ordered, he would choose some projects for the board to review and approve, set the project priorities then develop a scope of work and determine the costs in order to place the project out for bids. Some suggested projects were remodeling the elementary school cabinets and refinishing tabletops, erecting an awning over the pathway from the 5th/6th grade middle school to the 7th/8th grade building, funding a pilot project using iPads or other devices to expose seniors to technology they will be using in college, repairing the road to the high school, and extending the Ag Shop to create a wood shop and a metal shop. He also stressed that the district had to be constantly aware of its facilities, improving them when needed and doing repairs in order to keep future costs down.
A committee was formed to consider the recommendation of holding a bond election. Shelly Wenmohs will chair the committee and Kip Thompson and Randy Rutherford will serve as members. Mr. Shanley will generate a list of projects to be ready by the February board meeting.
The Superintendent’s report included a safety update. He noted that the district’s safety procedures have been reviewed and some safety procedures have been upgraded. For example, the elementary school doors are now locked at the first bell. A visitor must be buzzed in and checked in at the office before being allowed to enter a classroom. The 4th grade wing will also have barriers built with gates that can only be unlocked by a teacher. He also said plans are being considered to move the middle school office so that when visitors come in through the double doors, they will automatically be lead into the office.
After the Superintendent’s report, the board adjourned into a closed meeting for the yearly Superintendent’s evaluation report. When the board reconvened, they voted 6-1 to extend Mr. Shanley’s contract for one year and gave him a 2% raise. Randy Rutherford voted no. Mr. Shanley has a five year contract. The board can vote each year to extend that contract by one year. Since they voted to extend his contract by one year, his 2013-2014 contract will run through June 30th, 2018. Next year, they can vote to extend his contract for another year through 2019. Or, they can not extend the contract and it will end in four years.
The next board meeting will be held February 11th, 2013 at 6:00pm.