NEWS HEADLINES

Nivens to lead Alvord school board

By Bob Buckel | Published Wednesday, June 5, 2013

For a group that had no contested races in May, the Alvord school board saw quite a few changes in its first June meeting Monday evening.

After swearing in three members – Jimmy Looney (place 3), Larry Nivens (place 4) and Vic Czerniak (place 5) – who were reelected without opposition, the board reorganized and left only one office in the same hands.

John Schedcik stepped aside as president, and Larry Nivens was named to that office.

Nivens, who is starting his second term but previously served 11 years on the board, is a lifetime resident of Alvord and a 1968 graduate of Alvord High School.

Kevin Wood stepped down as vice president, and Jimmy Looney was handed that post. Wood was elected secretary, taking the minute book from Jeannette Ward, and Vic Czerniak retained the job of assistant secretary.

All the votes were unanimous, and there was no discussion.

Following the reorganization, the board accepted the resignation of place 6 trustee Randy Hamilton, who submitted a letter and was not present.

Hamilton had served two years of a three-year term after being elected in May 2011.

The board then went into a 35-minute closed session to discuss the opening. Coming back into open session, they tabled the agenda items which called for them to consider appointing and swearing in a new member.

Instead, they agreed to put the position up on the district’s website June 10 through June 20 and see if anyone is interested in serving.

GETTING READY TO PAVE

The board approved using sealed bids to select the lowest qualified bidder for a big paving project that should be completed this summer. Cost of the project, which will install concrete parking lots and driveways around the high school and middle school campuses, is estimated at $950,000, to be paid for with tax maintenance notes and time warrants.

Those funds, totaling $1.915 million, are also being used to pay for a list of needed items from security upgrades to a new school bus.

The board OK’d four budget amendments relating to those expenditures, just over $131,000 in reimbursements to the general fund for a bus and security projects already underway and paid for.

On a recommendation from Superintendent Bill Branum, they hired Fugro Consultants Inc. of Fort Worth to handle testing of materials during the paving job.

EIKON Consulting Group, an engineering firm out of Sanger, was hired to draw up specifications on the paving and oversee quality assurance during construction.

The board will open bids at 5 p.m. this Thursday during a special called meeting.

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT

Branum gave trustees a rundown on several items during his report, focusing on the district’s investments and recent state legislative action.

The district’s most recent financial statement showed $4.7 million in the general fund, $529,711 in the interest & sinking fund, $531,083 invested in a certificate of deposit and $1.4 million in a managed statewide investment fund.

“Our monetary investments are very strong,” he said. “I’m very pleased with that. Tax collections have been strong this year and we’re very appreciative of that, and I’m pleased that our overall ADA [average daily attendance] is excellent for the year.

“Not only does that mean that the kids are here and they have an opportunity to learn, it helps us with our state funding.”

He said it appears that in the next two years the district will get back a portion of the funding the state took away two years ago. But he’s not spending those dollars just yet.

“Given what we know, it appears it will fall between $200,000 and $300,000,” he said. “If things don’t change too much, I do expect an increase in state funding to some degree.”

He also referenced changes in graduation requirements, reduced testing at the high school level and other changes in Senate Bill 5.

“But the governor has not signed those bills, and until he does, they’re just that – bills,” he said.

Wood asked Branum to bring information on three things to the next board meeting – the district’s broadband connection, a proposed educational foundation and an overview of the district’s facilities.

OTHER ACTION

The board also:

  • heard reports from Alvord High School Principal Dr. Rhett King and Alvord Middle School Principal Janis Branum;
  • approved monthly bills, last month’s minutes, and the tax collection report;
  • expanded its agreement with Interquest to bring drug-detection dogs and drug awareness education to both the high school and middle school campuses;
  • issued a one-year contract to Jacqueline Rans for the upcoming school year to fill the position at Alvord High School that is being vacated by the retiremenet of longtime home economics teacher Donna Nivens.

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