NEWS HEADLINES

Board votes to buy land next to high school

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, March 2, 2013

After a brief closed session Thursday night, the Alvord ISD board of trustees voted 5-0 to purchase eight acres adjoining the high school on the west side of U.S. 287.

“We hope to be able to utilize this property for the FFA and science programs – anything else that might make sense,” Superintendent Bill Branum said after the meeting. “It’s got a great barn and shed, two floors in part, mostly concrete, great pens and a nice house.

“It expands our property,” he added. “It opens up opportunities for us, and it’s just a great investment.”

The district purchased the property from Vanera Waller for $150,000 to be paid out over a five-year period with payments of about $31,000 a year.

The board also voted to transfer a total of $131,626 from its fund balance to jump-start a list of expenditures that will eventually all be funded with money from maintenance tax notes the district will issue.

The funds will purchase one school bus ($91,136), provide labor ($4,992) and materials ($27,193) for security work at the elementary campus and provide the materials ($8,305) for a security system at the administration office.

The district’s reserve fund will be reimbursed the full amount once the maintenance tax notes are issued.

“We will be getting another bus, but by then we’ll have that other money,” Branum told the board.

LETTER-WRITERS REPORT

The board also heard from Judy Nivens and Gay Dickens, two of the four members of the Alvord United Methodist Women who went to Austin for a recent political forum, then came home and launched a letter-writing campaign to raise awareness of women’s and chldren’s issues. The campaign has produced 500 letters so far to nine influential legislators in Austin – and board members were asked to sign a few themselves for the group to mail.

“We all know our public schools really need this money,” Dickens said. “It was taken from us, and it’s sitting in the Rainy Day fund. You can’t [grow by] 80,000 kids a year and not fund them.”

Nivens said the education issue “really touched our hearts,” encouraging them to focus on four priorities: 1) restoration of the $5.4 billion cut from education in the last session; 2) funding the enrollment gain from the past two years and going forward; 3) eliminating the flow of public money to private schools; and 4) exploring alternatives to testing.

“I don’t know what else to do, except keep pounding on them and follow up on the phone,” Nivens said.

Branum said their work “makes a difference.”

“When they receive letters from real people, people who express their thoughts in the way you’ve done, it has an impact,” he said.

Branum added that for the past 10 years, state dollars going into public schools are a flat line.

OTHER BUSINESS

  • approved the 2013-14 school calendar as voted on by the staff. It includes 175 student days with six early dismissals and two bad weather days. Holidays include Labor Day, a week at Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas/New Year’s, a week-long spring break and Memorial Day with graduation June 5.
  • renewed the district’s depository contract with Legend Bank. The contract will have to be re-bid next year, but Branum said the bank is meeting their needs and he saw no reason to change.
  • approved two student transfers;
  • approved a report on board member training;
  • heard reports from Elementary Principal Bridget Williams and Middle School Principal Janis Branum on enrollment and activities at their campuses. Superintendent Branum made the high school report in place of Rhett King, who was ill. Currently elementary enrollment is 342 students in grades pre-K through five, while the middle school has 171 kids in grades 6-8 and the high school campus hosts 194 on the average day. Districtwide average daily attendance is just a hair under 96.5, Branum said.

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