Alvord School Board meets, calls election

Meeting at 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon to make up for Monday’s ice-storm-postponed meeting, the Alvord School Board was barely able to get four members together to make up a quorum.

Still, they were able to call their May 9 school board election, issue the election order and vote to combine elections with the city of Alvord.

It took about 10 minutes.

Board members Charlie Matthews, John Schedcik, Vic Czerniak and Larry Nivens voted to call the election for places 1 and 2 on May 9.

Combining elections with the city is a requirement, according to Superintendent Bill Branum.

“If the city does not have an election, we’ll have to regroup and do it ourselves,” he said. “But we have to try and have a joint election.”

Branum read aloud the order of election detailing early voting days, hours and location, and it was all approved unanimously.

“That’s all we needed to do because Friday’s the deadline,” he said. “And it’s supposed to snow again Friday.”

The meeting adjourned at 2:10.

The board’s next meeting is Monday evening at 6.

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Meeting Agendas for Saturday, February 21, 2015

DECATUR CITY COUNCIL – The council will gather at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23, for annual reports from the finance, planning, public works and fire departments prior to its 6 p.m. meeting. On that agenda is presentation of an “initial period study” for Project Sidekick, under development by the Decatur Economic Development Corp., with a request for possible action to continue moving the project along. There will also be a resolution calling for the May 9 election to be held jointly with Decatur ISD, a request for street closings for Cruise Nights on the Courthouse Square May 2, June 6, Sept. 5 and Oct. 3, and the presentation of the city’s annual audit report by accountant Scott Siegmund. The meeting is held at City Hall, 201 E. Walnut, and is open to the public.

DECATUR HOSPITAL AUTHORITY – The board that governs Wise Regional Health System will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 23, at the hospital’s board room. After administrative and financial reports and an update from the Foundation, the board will review, consider and take action on floor plans for the fitness/sports medicine/physical therapy complex. They will also elect a new vice-president, consider authorizing CEO Steve Summers, CFO Todd Scroggins and Director of Accounting Kala Walsh to sign on a security procedure agreement with Wells Fargo Bank. Purchase of an imaging processor for $89,850 is also on the agenda prior to a closed session. When they come out, they will consider a slate of new medical staff appointments as well as biannual and first-year reviews.

ALVORD SCHOOL BOARD – Alvord school trustees will call a May 9 election for two places on the board when they meet Monday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m. at 100 Mosley Lane. The only other agenda items are holding the election jointly with the City of Alvord, publishing a notice of the election and possible executive session. The meeting is open to the public.

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Alvord School Board reviews strong Academic Performance Report

The Alvord school board didn’t have a lot on their agenda for a 5 p.m. Thursday meeting.

Training videos on the Texas Open Meetings Act and the Texas Open Records Act took up most of the board’s time in the hour-long meeting – but before going to the movies, they reviewed the district’s 2013-2014 Academic Performance Report.

The report is a summary of test results given during the previous school year, comparing Alvord’s students to others in Region 11 as well as statewide.

The grade is now just “Met Standard” – but Alvord students outperformed both the region and the state in most categories.

“There are a couple of instances where we have some work to do,” Superintendent Bill Branum told the board, citing fourth grade math and eighth grade science.

“Other than that, if you compare what our kids did against region and state, you can see why I’m proud of our kids and proud of our teachers,” he said. “They stacked up, stood up and did a good job.”

Compared to the 75 or so other districts in Region 11, Alvord’s scores were consistently equal or higher. And scores from the North Texas region were generally better than state averages.

But Branum said the report is used as a tool, not a vehicle for self-congratulation.

“In fourth grade math, we have some work to do,” he said. “Those are our current fifth graders.

“That’s why we study this data, and apply it kid-by-kid. We give kids extra practice in the subjects they’re not as strong in, and teachers monitor it year-to-year to make sure we’re closing those gaps we identified the year before.”

The report compares last year’s scores to the previous year, in most cases showing progress from year to year.

“Rather than looking at the overall scores and just patting ourselves on the back, what we really concentrate on is plugging holes for the kids who didn’t do what we want them to do,” Branum said. “In that, you can see we’re very successful.

“Following the kids through the system is really how you know the effectiveness of your educational program.”

Data in the report also shows Alvord’s SAT and ACT test scores are at or above the desired levels, demonstrating college readiness.

Alvord School Board

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Alvord School Board to get open meetings training

The Alvord ISD school board will hold training sessions on the Public Information Act and the Public Meetings Act when they meet at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Administration Building, 100 Mosley Lane.

The training is in settlement of an apparent violation of an Open Records Request by board President Vic Czerniak.

Former board member Jeannette Ward, who was voted off the board last May, had requested emails and text messages from Czerniak’s home computer and phone which were not provided in a timely manner, in accordance with the law.

School district attorney Lynn Rossi Scott, in corresponding with the Texas Attorney General’s Office and Ward, said the board had agreed to undergo the training at a public meeting.

Scott is also working to redact non-public information from Czerniak’s emails to provide for Ward, and told the AG’s office Czerniak’s cell phone had been replaced last Sept. 21 and his text messages did not transfer.

Thursday’s meeting will also include consideration of a Legislative Advocacy Resolution, a Texas Academic Performance Report, and any personnel recommendations that may come up.

CORRECTION

In a Messenger news story Jan. 24 on last week’s Alvord school board meeting, it was stated that Ward had “expressed concern about the board’s would-be hearing of an employee grievance” that had been removed from that meeting’s agenda.

The article said Ward was concerned because the employee had met previously with board members, who would therefore not be able to make an unbiased decision in the matter.

Ward said this week that her concern was actually due to the fact that the complainant had met with board members, not the employee.

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Former Alvord school board member airs grievances

A former Alvord school board member argued for more transparency during the group’s meeting Thursday night.

Jeannette Ward, who served two terms on the board and lost a re-election bid last May to Charlie Matthews, spoke in open forum about what she believed to be “examples of wrongdoing” by board members.

Ward filed several open records requests last May for electronic communication between board members from Jan. 1, 2014, to May 22, 2014. She expressed her frustration that she had not received all of the requested information, and that it was rumored that a school board member instructed an administrator to no longer use her photography business because she was “costing the district money by filing open records requests.”

Ward said there is a cost associated with open records requests, and she will pay for the information she has requested, as soon as she receives an invoice.

Ward also expressed concern about the board’s would-be hearing of an employee grievance that was originally on Thursday’s agenda but was removed before the meeting started.

Ward said that because the employee met previously with board members, the board would not be able to make an unbiased decision about the grievance.

“Because of these and other possible documented violations, I am requesting that this board conduct a public hearing to examine examples of wrongdoing by a few of your fellow board members,” she said. “I think the public deserves the right to know the documented truth. I have requested to be put on the next available agenda so that I can present the information I have found.

“I want to give you an opportunity to police your own before the authorities are involved,” she said.

She also suggested that they reorganize the board to ensure they have a “strong, educated leader” in place.

The board is not allowed to take action on items discussed in open forum.

Later in the meeting the board heard an annual financial audit report, which was unanimously approved.

The only other action that came during the meeting was when the board unanimously approved a recommendation to hire Megan Morett of San Antonio to be a physical education teacher and coach at the elementary school.

The board tabled a motion to consider a TASB policy update until its next meeting to give the members more time to study the update.

The board’s next meeting is 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, at 100 Mosley Lane.

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Agenda Brief for Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ALVORD SCHOOL BOARD – The Alvord school board will move its November meeting up to this Thursday, Nov. 20, due to the Thanksgiving holiday next week. The agenda includes reports from principals, the superintendent and board members as well as the routine approval of bills and the tax collection report. Also due are reports on Highly Qualified Teachers and the district’s wellness policy, as well as budget amendments, student transfers and any personnel recommendations that may come forward. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Administration Building, 100 Mosley Lane. It is open to the public.

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Alvord School Board to meet Tuesday

The polls close on Tuesday at 7 p.m. – and that’s when the Alvord school trustees will hold what promises to be a quick meeting.

On the agenda for the special called meeting are two items: consider the state compensatory education report and consider the FIRST report.

According to the Texas Education Agency (TEA) website, compensatory education consists of programs or services designed to supplement the regular education program for students identified as being at risk of dropping out of school. The purpose is to increase academic achievement and reduce the dropout rate of these students.

The FIRST program is the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, which analyzes a district’s financial strength and issues a grade on the soundness of its fiscal management.

The board also has an executive session on the agenda, but no specific items under that heading.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the administration building at 100 Mosley Lane. It is open to the public.

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Alvord School Board drops a penny from tax rate

Thursday’s school board meeting saw a few last-minute additions to the budget, but Alvord ISD trustees were also able to drop a penny from the tax rate.

While the district’s maintenance and operations tax rate stayed the same at $1.17 per $100 value, a carryover of about $80,000 in the district’s debt service fund made it possible to lower the debt service tax rate from last year’s 19.4 cents to 18.4 cents.

That makes Alvord’s total school tax rate $1.3540.

The district’s operating budget for the 2014-15 school year is down slightly at $7,295,067, compared to $7,513,993 last year. Last year’s major parking lot paving project and bus purchases were included in that budget item.

The budget for instruction is up just over $217,000, and there is a bump in school leadership of $63,508 after the addition of an assistant principal’s position at the elementary campus.

The guidance, counseling and evaluation budget rose just over $20,000, and the extracurricular budget was up just over $60,000 with the addition of volleyball, the last-minute need for more uniforms for several sports, and the replacement of commercial washers and dryers in both field houses.

The board also approved hiring an additional pre-kindergarten teacher due to higher-than-expected enrollment. After the new teacher and aide come on board and work with the existing class for a week, the pre-K class will be split into morning and afternoon sessions.

The food service budget projects a deficit of just more than $50,000 on total revenues of $390,000. That includes $229,000 in payments from students, $2,200 in state program funds and $158,800 in federal funds.

“It’s almost impossible to budget for food service because it all depends on our kids,” Superintendent Bill Branum said. “I can’t tell you how many dollars we’re going to get.”

The deficit was $45,000 last year. Branum said if the program makes more money than he projected, the excess funds would simply go into the district’s fund balance and be there for next year.

He also noted that $40,000 from last year’s maintenance tax notes is still in reserve, to be used to pay for the greenhouse which should be installed by November.

OTHER BUSINESS

In Thursday’s meeting, the school board also:

  • heard an investment report;
  • approved an interlocal agreement with neighboring districts for transporting special-needs students;
  • approved a memorandum of understanding with Weatherford College to offer credit for college prep math and language arts courses; and
  • approved transfer students.

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Alvord school board sets budget workshop

Aside from any last-minute personnel recommendations that may come up, a budget workshop is the only agenda item facing Alvord’s school trustees as they convene for a specially called meeting 5 p.m. Monday.

Although the board has approved several programs and committed to some expenditures for next year, very little discussion has been held to this point on next year’s budget.

Alvord ISD saw property values rise by 6.37 percent this year and will likely be classified as a wealthy school district next year, required to pay between $89,000 and $110,000 in local tax revenue into the state’s “Robin Hood” program.

The board has invested in some ongoing programs that will be included in next year’s budget, including implementing a volleyball program at the high school and middle school, purchasing 400 Google Chromebook notebook computers for high school and middle school students, upgrading the district’s wireless network and constructing a greenhouse for use by the agriculture, horticulture and floral arranging classes.

Those expenditures, along with salaries and other items, should be up for discussion Monday.

The board meeting is held at the administration office at 100 Mosley Lane in Alvord. It’s open to the public.

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Property wealth puts Alvord back in ‘Robin Hood’

Under the current public education finance system, good news on property values is almost always a mixed bag for Texas school districts.

That’s a big reason the system is being challenged in court.

Alvord ISD, which saw its property values rise by 6.37 percent this year, will likely be required to return between $89,000 and $110,000 of that new-found wealth to the state, to be redistributed to less property-rich districts.

“It looks like we’re going to be a Chapter 41 school because of property values rising,” superintendent Bill Branum told the school board Thursday evening.

The threshold for determining that is property wealth divided by the district’s Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA). Currently, that threshhold is $319,500, Branum said.

“Ours is going to be above that,” he said. “I haven’t got the Comptroller’s actual values yet, but we definitely did, I think, inch up over that line a little bit.”

Alvord’s property wealth, released by Wise County Appraisal District last week, was $429,113,890. Even with exemptions and an array of other numbers to punch into the state’s formula, with WADA at just over 700 students, Alvord is above the limit.

Branum said the Texas Education Agency web site has a figure of $89,000. By his own estimate, it will be as high as $110,000.

“There are several ways to accommodate that, if that ends up being the case, and one way is to simply reduce your state aid by that amount,” he said. “That’s the simplest way.”

He noted Alvord has dodged the “Robin Hood” trap for many years.

“Most of the districts around us are Chapter 41 already,” he said. “We’ve been fortunate to hold off from that for a long time.

“It’s good that the values are going up, but until the state finance system changes, you can only get so much money. If you go above it, you have to somehow, some way, share it.”

An influx of students is about the only thing that would drive up the weighted ADA and reduce what the district would have to pay.

QUICK MEETING

With board president Vic Czerniak and vice president Jimmy Looney absent, the five-member board quickly disposed of an agenda that, for the first time in months, did not include a closed session. Board secretary Kevin Wood presided.

Principals Bridget Williams, Michael Thurman and Rhett King reported they are interviewing to try and fill the remaining gaps in the faculty, and Williams noted Alvord Elementary is handing out a large number of registration packets.

The board voted to raise breakfast and lunch prices, going to $1.30 for students at all grade levels. Lunch will be $2.50 at the elementary level, $2.75 at the middle and high school levels.

“We are totally dependent on whether the kids eat or not,” Branum said.

The board also approved policies, student handbooks, and contracts for insurance, and services from the Education Service Center.

They also hired three teachers. A synopsis of all the hires who are new for this school year will be included in next week’s Back-to-School coverage for all Wise County districts.

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Board makes several new hires

The meeting took place mostly behind closed doors, but it was no secret what the Alvord ISD board of trustees was doing Thursday afternoon.

They were hiring.

After two hours of private discussion, the board opened the doors and hired three teachers each for the elementary and middle school campuses, counselors for both schools, and a new head football coach and athletic director for Alvord High School.

It was the latter that drew the most attention. Pete Hart, defensive coordinator for the past three years, was named AD and head football coach after the tumultous demotion and departure of Curtis Enis earlier this year (see story on page 1A).

But also noteworthy was the hiring of counselors for the elementary and middle school campuses, and new teachers – in several instances replacing teachers who moved to different campuses.

New middle school counselor Kimberly Cantwell earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Texas Woman’s University in Denton. She previously served as a counselor at Nocona Middle School.

Melinda “Mindy” Marcum, the new counselor for Alvord Elementary, earned her bachelor’s degree from Tarleton State University and an M.Ed. from Dallas Baptist University. She taught nine years in Paradise ISD and served for 10 years as intermediate counselor in Bridgeport ISD.

New Alvord Middle School faculty hired Thursday are:

  • Charlie Stavlo, to teach math and serve as a girls’ assistant coach at both the middle school and high school campuses. Stavlo, a graduate of Texas A&M, previously taught math and was an assistant coach at Franklin ISD alongside new girls basketball coach/coordinator John Shelton.
  • Cicily Word, special education. She is a graduate of Texas A&M has served as a special education teacher with Wise County Shared Services.
  • Kaitlin Sessions, English/language arts. A graduate of Texas A&M, she did her student teaching at Paradise Middle School and was a long-term substitute there. This is her first full-time teaching position.

New teachers at Alvord Elementary include:

  • Barbara “Dede” Shelton, to teach 4th grade writing. A 17-year classroom veteran, she earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration and business management from Harding University in Searcy, Ark., and received an M.A. from Texas A&M Commerce. She has taught in Bryan, Buffalo, and most recently, in Franklin, outside Bryan. She is the wife of new girls head basketball coach and coordinator John Shelton.
  • Danelle Sandate, to teach first grade. A graduate of the University of North Texas, she substituted long-term in Keller ISD and Jacksboro ISD, then taught full-time in Jacksboro.
  • Elana Mattix, to teach fourth grade. She graduated from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls and has taught in Montague ISD.

Staff development for Alvord ISD starts Aug. 10 and the first day of school is Aug. 22.

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Bulldogs on the hunt for new coach, AD

The Alvord Bulldogs may have their new football coach and athletic director Thursday.

Alvord trustees have called a meeting for 5 p.m. to consider personnel items, specifically the athletic director and football coach job.

“I don’t know for sure we’ll be ready. We’d certainly like to be, but we still have some interviews to go,” Branum said Tuesday afternoon. “We do have some teachers to hire for sure.”

According to Branum, the district had 35 applicants for the head football job that came open last month when Curtis Enis left to take the girls basketball job in Burleson. Before he left Alvord, the school board took the role of athletic director from Enis, and Branum has been the acting AD.

“Obviously, this time of year is not the ideal time to be looking for an AD and coach,” Branum said. “But we feel we’ll end up with a good one.”

Of the 35 applicants, the district granted interviews to 12.

Branum said most have head coaching experience.

“The ones that don’t certainly have quite a bit of experience as a lead assistant – offensive or defensive coordinator,” Branum said.

One coach on the current staff applied and interviewed for the job.

The district is within the 45-day period where another district would not be required to release a person under contract to take the job.

“Usually if someone is getting a promotion, most of the time the other school district will waive it,” Branum said.

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Early fireworks, late action in board meeting

The Alvord school board made some major decisions Thursday night – but the fireworks that erupted at the start of the meeting hung like a cloud of smoke over a string of unanimous votes.

Board member Kevin Wood lit the fuse, accusing board president Vic Czerniak of “egregious violation and betrayal” claiming he overstepped his authority by ordering Superintendent Bill Branum to post an opening for the athletic director’s position on the Internet.

Former head football coach Curtis Enis, whose resignation was accepted this week was relieved of his duties as athletic director in May, while still under contract as a teacher and coach. Wood read a clipping from the May 3 Messenger in which Branum stated he believed it was the board’s intent that he handle those duties himself.

“Nobody on this board had a meeting to authorize the posting of an AD job,” Wood said. “You did it behind our backs.

“You violated the integrity of this board, you usurped your authority as board president, you undermined our authority as elected officials, you compromised the instructional leadership of this district, you embarrassed elected officials by the way you behaved behind our backs, and you violated the public trust,” he said. “If you had any character, you’d resign as board president.”

Czerniak, other board members and the audience of about a dozen – including several football players and their parents – sat in stunned silence as the accusations unfolded.

At one point Czerniak turned to Branum. “Did I order you to?” he asked.

“You asked me to,” Branum said.

Wood said, “I’ve sat through this once, and I’m not going to sit quietly by again and people go behind our backs.”

Finally Czerniak was able to respond as Wood turned around in his chair and faced away from the board table.

Czerniak denied making a statement, although it was unclear what statement he was referring to. The Messenger clipping Wood read did not reference Czerniak, who had not yet been elected to head the board.

He did say that on Tuesday he had gone to Branum’s office and discussed posting the AD job so that when Enis’ resignation did come in, the district might already be receiving applications.

“To kill two birds with one stone, what we needed to do, if we’re going to try and make our program successful, was to go ahead with posting an athletic director with heavy football skills – so that when we do get an opening or a letter of resignation, we could move the athletic director into the head football coach position,” he said.

“As it was, yesterday we received a letter of resignation,” he continued. “But we’ve already lost almost a month trying to find out because we didn’t have a head football coach out there working with the boys on the program. We didn’t know what our situation was.”

He noted that by law, Enis could have waited until July 11 to resign – 45 days prior to the start of classes.

“By the time we would post it, take applications and do interviews, school would already be starting before we had a football coach,” Czerniak said.

“Mr. Branum was never ordered. We came to a mutual agreement,” he said. “My understanding was that he would go ahead and post it, but he was never ordered by anybody to do that.”

Things calmed down for a moment as board member John Schedcik raised a question about the district’s broadband status. Then Wood spoke again.

“And one other thing,” he said, looking at Czerniak. “You may be able to put four votes together to run the former Godley head football coach in here on us – shove it down our throat – but there’ll be a reckoning when you do it.”

This time, Czerniak fired back.

“I don’t know what medication you’re taking, but you need to take another dose, Mr. Woods,” he said. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Wood said he was just warning Czerniak, but Czerniak cautioned him that the allegation was unfounded.

“I’m just telling you …” Wood began.

“You’re not telling me anything,” Czerniak cut him off. “I’m telling you right now, control your attitude. If you’re going to make an allegation, you’d better have something to substantiate it.”

COMPUTERS, GREENHOUSE COMING

After that divisive start, the board got down to business and voted unanimously on a string of instruction-related items.

A 40-minute presentation by Technology Director Charlie Mann led to the purchase of 400 Google Chromebook notebook computers for high school and middle school students.

The lease-purchase is a three-year commitment of more than $150,000. The computers are designed to hold minimal software and data, largely serving as portals to the “cloud” database through the Google Chrome browser.

Mann said the devices are designed specifically for education and are available at a much lower cost than the laptop devices many other school districts have purchased for their students.

The computers will cost $147,600 over three years – with payments of $47,974 a year for three years. A first-year-only cost of $20,591 would upgrade Alvord ISD’s wireless capabilities to handle the influx of devices.

After that, an annual payment in that range should be sufficient to keep the devices upgraded, years into the future.

“A Chromebook is an affordable device that’s made for the schools and used by the schools,” Mann said. “It’s not one of those devices that’s used for anything. It’s very specific.”

Mann said the devices are protected against inappropriate content and emails, photos and video. They are even theft-resistant – once the device is reported stolen, the next time someone powers it up it takes their photo and transmits it back to the base.

The board also approved up to $40,000 to build a greenhouse as requested a few months ago to help the agriculture, horticulture and floral arranging classes. It should be able to be ordered, shipped and assembled for that cost by the time school starts.

OTHER BUSINESS

The board also:

  • entered into a contract with Black Creek Canine Services for drug-sniffing dogs to go through the campuses as needed;
  • approved the Texas Kids First insurance plan, at a cost of $12,148 for the year, to provide insurance that is offered to all 700 students;
  • heard a “very positive” safety/security audit report;
  • approved guidelines for interview committees to help principals in hiring;
  • amended the budget to pay for the greenhouse, the notebook computers, school buses, startup costs for the girls volleyball program and the art program; and
  • approved several personnel moves.

John Shelton, recently hired from Franklin to coach girls basketball, was named girls athletic coordinator.

Jessica Bull, a fourth- grade teacher who just completed her ninth year at Alvord Elementary, was named assistant principal at the school.

Krissi Oden was hired to teach secondary art.

Kathy Jo Nance was transferred from middle school to high school. She holds secondary certification in special ed and health and has taught in Alvord ISD for nine years.

Catherine Kelly was also moved from middle school to high school. She has taught and coached for seven years and for the last two has been Alvord Middle School girls basketball and track coach while assisting with Alvord High School boys cross country and girls track.

Lisa Watkins was transferred from elementary to middle school to teach English/language arts. An educator with 25 years experience, she has taught the last 13 years in Alvord ISD at several levels.

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Board to deal with ongoing issues

Alvord’s school board will revisit the proposed greenhouse project and guidelines for committees used to help screen job applicants when they meet in regular session Thursday.

The meeting, which is open to the public, is at 7 p.m. in the Administration Building, 100 Mosley Lane.

Principals, superintendent Bill Branum, and board members will offer reports at the opening of the meeting before the board looks at minutes, bills and the tax collection report – all items on the consent agenda.

The regular agenda includes consideration of a canine service plan and the Texas Kids First insurance plan, as well as Chromebooks and a safety/security audit.

The board will also consider budget amendments and personnel recommendations – which should come after a closed-door session.

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Board to review district goals

Meeting for the first time in several months without a big crowd or a hot-button issue, the Alvord school board Monday spent most of its time examining the fine points of superintendent evaluation forms.

A needed process, but not exactly a crowd-pleaser.

In the end, they opted to make the process more about the district – re-examining its goals and direction – than the superintendent.

The form the board currently uses for its annual review of Superintendent Bill Branum’s performance was developed by trustees several years ago, based on district goals, and focused heavily on student performance.

Copies of that form, as well as other appraisal forms recommended by the Commissioner of Education, were passed out for review. The board spent the better part of half an hour discussing the formats and relative merits of each.

“The Commissioner is supposed to update this again by December of 2014,” Branum said. “If you’ll notice, it references AYP (Average Yearly Progress) and some other things that aren’t in the mix anymore.”

The school district’s current form references the old school rating system of Examplary/Recognized/Acceptable, which also is not used anymore.

“I think you’ll see quite a few similarities and some differences, certainly,” Branum said.

Board member Larry Nivens questioned the need for changing the form. “If we make the switch, how does it make us a better school?” he asked.

Czerniak said it’s simply a matter of bringing the district up to date.

Board member Kevin Wood said it had been “five or six years” since the form was revised.

“The instrument we were using prior to this was really generic and arbitrary,” he said. “We pulled it off another school’s website.”

Board member Charlie Matthews said it’s just a matter of finding the best tool.

“All this is, is a tool. You’re going to be able to see if there’s an area that’s at fault, whether it’s the superintendent or whatever,” he said.

Board member John Schedcik suggested combining the best parts of both forms, taking the portions they like from the Commissioner of Education’s suggested form and working them into the district’s form.

“The idea is trying to get an instrument that truly reflects what the board’s goals are,” he said.

After much further discussion, Wood moved to table the item.

“What if, instead of thinking of this as an appraisal instrument, we step back and go back over our goals, and let’s figure out what our vision is, where we want to go?” he said.

He said with several new board members, it’s a good time to back off and look at the big picture.

“If we’re going to take on the responsibility as trustees that our students and our citizens expect from us, let’s look at where we want the district to head,” he said. “Let’s look at our goals because this is based on our goals. Let’s become a team of eight and figure out where we want to go as a group.”

Matthews agreed.

“Things have changed so much, I do think it’s time to reassess what we’ve got right here,” he said. “Let’s look at what the goals are and base our evaluation on the goals.”

He said the goals need to be clear. Branum said he would welcome that.

“The bottom line is, it’s not the instrument that’s critical – it’s more, me being able to know exactly what you guys are asking me to get done,” he said. “When I know that, it’ll get done. That’s why I think this is probably in need of repair.”

The item will be the subject of a workshop for the board’s July meeting – after members have done their homework and come up with their goals for the district.

OTHER BUSINESS

Prior to that discussion, the board:

  • reappointed Wood as board secretary, after Schedcik asked to step down due to time constraints and his work schedule;
  • amended the budget to pay for the $189,543 in roofing work to be done at the high school;
  • after a lengthy closed session, hired John Shelton of Franklin to be the new girls’ basketball coach.

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Alvord School Board to elect new secretary

The Alvord ISD board of trustees will consider naming a new board secretary at a special called meeting Monday.

When the new board organized at their May 22 meeting, John Schedcik was named secretary, with Jimmy Looney serving as vice-president and Vic Czerniak president. Current secretary Kevin Wood was named assistant secretary.

After taking whatever action the board decides to take on that item, they will deal with two items that were also on the May 22 agenda: updating the appraisal forms for the superintendent, and amending the budget for roof work at the high school.

The roof repair is on the older portion of the high school building.

The board will also consider personnel recommendations.

The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the AISD Administration building, 100 Mosley Lane. It is open to the public.

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Alvord School Board tables committee plan, hires principal

After swearing in two new members and electing officers, the Alvord school board spent about 45 minutes Thursday night discussing selection committees for hiring new faculty members and principals.

Then they tabled the items.

Then they hired a new middle school principal.

The committee recommendation, brought up by new board president Vic Czerniak, was for committees to screen applicants and make recommendations to the principal – operating “independent of management.”

“Each principal must approve each teacher or staff appointment to the campus,” he said. “Upon the final decision of the committee a signed recommendation will be forwarded to the superintendent for recommendation to the board of trustees.”

Board member Larry Nivens asked what was the purpose of the item.

“For the committees to be able to operate independent of anybody that doesn’t have anything to do with that committee,” Czerniak said.

Kevin Wood, another board member, asked if the principal still had the ability to choose who they want.

“No,” Czerniak said. “They approve the recommendations.”

Wood said such a requirement would be illegal. Czerniak disagreed, and the two had a brief, terse exchange with Czerniak citing the Texas Education Code and Wood citing local policy.

“You cannot bind those principals to what a committee wants,” Wood said. “That principal has sole authority to recommend, at their discretion, the employees of that campus. They are held responsible for what goes on at that campus.”

Ultimately, Czerniak agreed. After other members weighed in on the issue, the board turned to elementary principal Bridget Williams and high school principal Rhett King, asking about their procedures for screening applicants during the hiring process.

Williams and King both use committees – but each cited cases in which the recommended rules might conflict with current practice.

Williams uses counselors and aides on those committees from time to time, and King noted he has several teachers who work on more than one campus and likes to have all the campuses involved represented on the committee. Both of those practices would be prohibited under the proposed policy.

Board member John Schedcik said the goal of the proposal was not to remove principals from the loop or tie their hands, but to “fine-tune” the current system.

“I don’t think there’s a big difference from what’s going on now,” he said. “This is just putting it on paper so we all kind of know where we’re at.”

Wood suggested tabling the proposal until principals have a chance to go over it – noting the current system seems to be working.

Board member Jimmy Looney agreed.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” he said. “Look at our staff over here. We’re one of the highest-rated schools in the state of Texas. Leave it alone.”

Czerniak went along with the idea to table it so that the principals can go over it. He also moved to table a separate proposal for principals selection committees.

The board also tabled a motion to “update superintendent evaluation forms to current standards” until they can hold a workshop.

MIDDLE SCHOOL GETS NEW PRINCIPAL

After a closed session, the board re-opened and voted unanimously to hire Michael Wayne Thurman as the new Alvord Middle School principal.

Thurman earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education from Oklahoma State University in 1993 and completed a master’s in educational administration at Tarleton State University in 2005.

He worked as a coach and teacher in the Norman, Okla., public schools 1993-99, then took a job in the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD north of Fort Worth. He started there as a coach and teacher, then was named assistant principal at Creekview Middle School in 2004 – the position he is leaving to join Alvord ISD.

He replaces Janis Branum, who is retiring.

OTHER ACTION

Dealing with a lengthy agenda, the board also:

  • authorized a public auction of two properties that had been struck off of the tax roll after being seized for back taxes;
  • moved the Walker Scholarship CD from Citi-bank – which is closing its Wise County branch – to Legend Bank;
  • changed out signatures on several accounts to reflect the board’s new membership;
  • approved a $189,543 bid to repair the roof over the original portion of the high school;
  • approved expenditures of $94,125 for a new special-needs bus with a lift, and $96,589 for a new 77-passenger bus;
  • approved a software contract with Region 11 Education Service Center for business software;
  • heard reports from each campus as well as a pitch from AHS teacher Sharon Sackett for a greenhouse.

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Alvord school board to meet again Thursday

The Alvord school board will convene again Thursday, with the contract of embattled head football coach Curtis Enis once again on the agenda.

The board deadlocked on a proposed renewal of Enis’ contract on March 27. Since then, they have met three times, each time considering what action to take on the contract of the head football coach and athletic director.

On April 14, with Randy Hamilton back on the board after resigning last June, trustees voted 4-3 to give notice of termination. But after a two-hour closed session, they voted unanimously to rescind that action.

A week later, they met in closed session for several hours but took no action.

On April 24 they met again, this time going into a 30-minute closed session before emerging to once again unanimously table action on the AD’s contract.

Thursday’s meeting will be the fifth in five weeks with those items on the agenda. This time the wording for item No. 5 is “Contract for head football coach” and item No. 6 states, “Giving notice of intent to propose non-renewal of athletic director’s contract.”

The board will also consider:

  • textbook adoptions
  • a re-roofing project on the high school building
  • budget amendment
  • an oil and gas lease with Pioneer Natural Resources
  • other personnel recommendations.

Another closed session is on the agenda, if needed. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Administration Building, 100 Mosley Lane. It’s open to the public.

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Tabled again: Alvord board to deal with AD after election

After meeting behind closed doors for several hours Monday, Thursday’s closed-door session of the Alvord school board didn’t last nearly as long.

And it produced the same amount of action: none.

About 30 minutes in private was all it took Thursday for the board to come out and take quick, unanimous action on two agenda items – considering a contract for a head football coach, and giving notice of proposed non-renewal of the athletic director’s contract.

Both items were tabled.

There were some fireworks early in Thursday’s meeting when Linda Goodwin attempted to speak in the open forum portion of the meeting and was asked if she was going to talk about a personnel matter.

Matthew Dunn, who led a petition drive to seek the removal of head football coach and athletic director Curtis Enis, jumped to her defense.

“You can’t discriminate between positive or negative feedback in open forum, Larry,” said Matthew Dunn. “It’s a TEA rule.”

Goodwin then presented board president Larry Nivens with a document.

“Are you going to address personnel, I guess, is my question,” Nivens said.

“I’m going to address the decision of the board on that,” she said. “Not whether I’m for or against, but how you have reacted – that’s what I’m addressing.”

“If it’s a complaint against personnel, you can’t do it in public,” Nivens said.

“I’m not complaining against personnel – I’m complaining against the board,” she answered.

Nivens cited school board policy that says complaints against personnel cannot be heard in open session unless the employee agrees to it. Goodwin said she felt her right to speak was being taken away.

Nivens moved on.

“Did anyone else sign up for open forum?” he asked.

“There’s obviously no point in signing up if we can’t talk,” Dunn said. “Larry, you’re breaking the rules. One of the board members needs to say something.”

The meeting moved on and later, when they went into executive session, Goodwin spoke to the board behind closed doors.

SCHOOL BUSINESS

Despite the dust-up, a little school district business got done. The board heard reports on attendance and activities at the elementary, middle school and high school campuses including positive reports on state testing that were released last week.

They voted to maintain membership in the Bluebonnet Special Education Co-op for students with visual impairments, even though Alvord ISD currently has no students who need the service.

The board also paid bills and named trustees Jeannette Ward, Kevin Wood and Jim Looney to the scholarship selection committee to review local scholarship applications for the 2014 graduating class.

They also called a meeting for Wednesday, May 14, to canvass the votes from the May 10 school board election. The time of that meeting will be determined.

Ward holds ‘seminar’ on board’s role

Under the “board reports” section on Thursday’s agenda, board member Jeannette Ward conducted a brief seminar on the role of the school board in evaluating the athletic department.

“Due to some of the recent actions and accusations by some members of the community, I’ve come to the conclusion that a training session may help some people understand the role and the authority of the board,” she said, introducing the presentation, which she had cleared in advance with Nivens and Superintendent Bill Branum. “I think it might help clarify some misconceptions.”

Ward talked about the dual roles of board members, using visual aids including photos, track medals and an audio recording of a football pep rally. She said as a parent and a business person she evaluated the athletic program based on her children’s experiences and what she observed.

Then she brought out a huge school board policy manual.

“As a board member, I evaluate the athletic department in a different way,” she said. “I pull this book out, and I look, and I look, and I look – and unfortunately, there’s nothing in there that tells me I have the authority to evaluate the athletic program as a board member.

“The sole responsibility of evaluating school employees belongs to the administration and the superintendent,” she said.

She concluded by offering to make handouts of the policies for anyone who wished to have them.

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Board to meet behind closed doors

The Alvord school board will convene in a special called session at 5 p.m. Monday.

The meeting will be open to the public, but the agenda calls for the board to immediately close the doors.

Board members are scheduled to confer with the district’s attorney regarding the contract of head coach and athletic director Curtis Enis. They will also discuss those positions separately under the personnel exception to the Open Meetings Act.

Any action would have to be taken in open session, but there is no proposed action on Monday’s agenda, which calls for the board to come back into open session and adjourn.

The next regular meeting would be next Thursday, April 24.

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