Schools encouraged by Abbott’s school security plans


Superintendents at multiple Wise County school districts were encouraged by the security plan announced by Texas Governor Greg Abbott Wednesday.
Abbott’s plan included proposals for increasing law enforcement presence at schools, strengthening school security and providing mental health evaluations to identify students at risk of harming others. Abbott also suggested a “red flag law” that would allow law enforcement, family members, school employees or a district attorney to file a petition seeking the removal of firearms from a potentially dangerous person.
“The plan is a starting point, not an ending place,” Abbott said in a press release with his 40 recommendations and proposals. “It provides strategies that can be used before the next school year begins to keep our students safe when they return to school. This plan will make our schools safer and our communities safer.”
Abbott held a series of discussions last week with victims from multiple mass shootings in Texas along with parents, educators, lawmakers and law enforcement. The roundtable and subsequent proposals followed the shooting at Santa Fe High School earlier this month that left 10 people dead and 10 others injured.
Since the February shooting at a high school in Parkland, Fla., several local districts have looked at enhancing security at its campuses.
“It is encouraging. Some of the things discussed by the governor are some of the discussions we’re having here on a local level,” said Boyd ISD Superintendent Ted West. “It’s more of a proactive approach with the additional counseling. It’s encouraging to see everyone on the same page.”
Abbott’s proposals were divided into four areas. The first was to provide immediate aid to Santa Fe with counselors and mental health providers to work with victims and first responders.
The second area was making schools safer. He called on districts to work with law enforcement for heightened police presence at the schools. He proposed increasing the number of school marshals that can be appointed per school and providing adding funding for training for the marshals. Abbott also wants to see active shooter and emergency response training and infrastructure improvements to prevent security threats. He said $62.1 million in federal funding will be available for safety improvements, law enforcement patrols and the implementation of mental health programs.
“Any time the state is looking to add funding is a good thing,” said Paradise ISD Superintendent Paul Uttley. “The fact that the governor is discussing how to protect our kids is fantastic. Whether every single aspect of that plan works, well, we’ll see how it plays out. But six months ago or a year ago we weren’t even having these conversations.”
The third area addressed is preventing threats in advance. Abbott called for increasing mental health resources, including evaluations to identify students at risk of harming others, providing school personnel with training on behavioral threat assessments, and giving students more access to counselors to help with mental and behavioral issues.
Abbott wants schools to expand the list of offenses for which students can be expelled or placed in a disciplinary alternative educational program and put in place a zero-tolerance policy for students committing assault.
He also put forth plans to expand the campus crime stoppers and increase the use of the Department of Public Safety’s “iWatch Texas” reporting system to enable and encourage parents, students and teachers to report suspicious activity on campus.
“The plans laid out are very comprehensive and consider a lot of aspects from counseling to mental health,” said Decatur ISD Superintendent Judi Whitis. “To me, it’s a proactive approach and looking at preventative measures before a catastrophic event occurs. There are some new ideas. We’ve all talked about metal detectors and buildings. These new thoughts are not just about structures.”
The fourth area called for enhancing firearms safety with the possible “red flag law” and closing gaps in federally mandated background checks.
Whitis and others hope to see the legislature follow through with more funding for many of the governor’s suggestions.
Many districts are already enhancing buildings and security efforts. Decatur ISD added a second school resource officer (SRO) at the high school. Boyd ISD recently hired a SRO through the Boyd Police Department.
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin approached Paradise, Alvord, Chico and Slidell about increasing security and adding an additional SRO.
Uttley said he appreciated Akin talking to the schools about safety and security earlier in the year, after the Parkland shooting in Florida.
“Wise County is fortunate to have Sheriff Akin, who recognized these issues and is working within the schools’ budgetary restrictions,” Uttley said. “He was being proactive about this before the governor.”
In a statement, Northwest ISD officials expressed appreciation for Abbott’s focus on school security and pointed out that the district committed $14 million to security enhancements from the 2017 bond package. The enhancements include improving the security of school entrances, upgrading classroom doors with an intruder safety function and enhancing security systems.
“Most of the dollars being spent to enhance safety in our school district mirror Governor Abbott’s call to ‘harden campus facilities,’” the statement said.

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Boyd ISD OKs pact for SRO


Boyd schools will have an officer patrolling campuses next school year.
Boyd ISD trustees approved a contract with the city of Boyd for a school resource officer (SRO) Monday night. The Boyd city council gave its consent on the pact last month.
“This provides a start in reaching the level of security we’re looking for,” said Boyd School Board President Bill Childress.
Boyd Police Chief Dwayne Taylor, who was at Monday’s meeting, said he will post the opening immediately.
“The next thing is trying to find someone,” Taylor said. “I’d love to have someone within 60 days. The main thing is to have them ready to start by the first day of school.”
The school will cover 75 percent of the salary and benefits for the officer. The city will pay the other 25 percent. The school will also pay for training, a cell phone and uniforms for the officer.
Boyd ISD Superintendent Ted West presented projected costs of $50,895 for the 2018/19 school year for the district. The city’s share would be $22,185.
The SRO would be an hourly employee, working 8.5-hour shifts. The district is projecting up to $2,835 in overtime costs. West said the district may have to provide compensation time off, if the SRO works several extracurricular events.
Childress said it is a good deal for the district and city.
“It benefits us all. We need to do it without hurting one of the entities and get the presence out there,” he said.
Along with approving the SRO, the board received an initial report from West about security options, including adding fencing around the middle school campus and upgrading cameras throughout the district.
West told the board a guard shack that was at the football stadium has been placed at the entrance to the parking lot of the high school. He wants to get quotes for the board to consider for additional guard shacks at the middle and elementary schools.
The district estimates the cost for manning the three guard shacks at $75,000.
West said people entering a campus during school hours would have to check in at the guard shack and the person at the shack would radio the main office to make them aware of the person arriving.

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Boyd ISD superintendent receives extension


Boyd ISD Superintendent Ted West will remain in the top post in the district through the 2020-21 school year after receiving a contract extension Thursday night.
Boyd ISD trustees voted unanimously to extend West’s current two-year contract by one year after a positive evaluation. The new contract will run through June 30, 2021.
Compensation was not addressed at the meeting. His current contract pays him $100,000 per year.
“As a district we’re happy with the job he’s doing,” said Boyd School Board President Bill Childress. “We know he works hard and puts a lot of effort into improving our district and leading us. That’s a reflection of the contract extension.”
West has been with the district 11 years, serving as the high school principal and assistant superintendent before being named superintendent in September 2012.
West, who is the second-longest tenured superintendent in Wise County, expressed optimism on moving forward with the district.
“We’re at a cross roads here at Boyd. We’re starting to see some of the growth coming,” West said. “We feel like we are in a really good position. We have great teachers and great students. We’re proud of what we’ve accomplished, yet we’re not satisfied with it. We think there are a lot more great things coming for all of our campuses and district. The growth we are about to experience is exciting because of what that’s going to mean in programs and new opportunities for our students.”
In the West’s evaluation, the board looked at various goals.
“We took into account the district goals that we set earlier that were based on finance, facilities and personnel goals,” Childress said.
Childress added that the district as a whole is moving in the right direction.
“We’ve done a good job,” he said. “A few years back we had a little downfall in our grades. We’ve done a good job of turning that around. Our scores are improving. Our extracurricular activities have more participation. We’ve increased our fund balance. Overall our district I feel is strong.
“We’re doing a good job with taxpayers’ money and we’re providing a solid education for the kids of this community. But like with anything else, we still have a lot of room for improvement.”

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Back to school: Superintendents channel first day excitement

Back to school: Superintendents channel first day excitement


WELCOME BACK — Dr. Judi Whitis welcomes students to Carson Elementary on the first day of school. This was Whitis’ first, first day of school with DISD. She’s had a total of 43 since she started kindergarten, including her professional career.

With the ring of the first school bell, Wise County superintendents are stepping out to greet parents and students.
The top school officials get just as excited about the first day as the kids, and they can’t wait to set foot in the classroom, greeting kiddos. Many of them have been “going back to school” for decades.
The Messenger decided to ask superintendents a few questions to kick off the 2017-18 year. Keep reading to find out your superintendent’s favorite school supply as a child, learn more about their first day traditions and gain insight from their favorite back-to-school memories.

BROWN

Alvord ISD
Dr. Randy Brown
39 first days
Favorite school supply: I always liked picking out a lunch box with a matching thermos, although I ate at school most of the time. My favorites were Evel Knievel and the Incredible Hulk.
First day tradition: I always enjoy taking my own kids to school on the first day. I then visit each campus. It’s always great to welcome everyone and feel the excitement of a new school year.
Favorite first day memory: My sister and I usually couldn’t sleep much the night before the first day of school. We would get up and get completely dressed and ready and then go back to bed and surprise my mom when she came to wake us up. My mom was a teacher and my sister is an elementary school counselor. Our family has always loved school.

WEST

Boyd ISD
Ted West
35 first days
Favorite school supply: Lunch box
First day tradition: I enjoy being at the elementary school during the morning dropoff on the first day of school. Seeing the excitement in our pre-k and kindergarten students on the first day is what it is all about.
Favorite first day memory: I remember vividly my first day of kindergarten. My mother walked me into my classroom and sat down with me at a table while I started playing with a toy boat. I’m not sure how long I had been playing, but I turned around and my mother was nowhere to found. I really don’t think I paid much attention to suddenly being away from my parents’ side for one of the first times in my life. I am reminded of that scene every ‘first day’ when I see it replicated numerous times. It reminds me of the importance and magnitude of our role in students’ lives.

PEAVEY

Bridgeport ISD
Brandon Peavey
40-plus first days
Favorite school supply: Trapper-Keeper notebook
First day tradition: Going to the elementary school and seeing the new kids (pre-kindergarten and kindergarten) for their first day of school.
Favorite first day memory: My sons’ first days of school.

 

 

Chico ISD
Don Elsom
45 first days
Favorite school supply: The Big Chief Tablet. The Indian was so cool.
First day tradition: To be visible and make sure I have at least a Snickers bar available.
Favorite first day memory: My favorite memory is seeing the faces of the pre-k and kindergarten parents. They are more scared than their children and then seeing them the next few years as the fear becomes joy and relief.

Decatur ISD
Dr. Judi Whitis
43 first days
Favorite school supply: Box of crayons. It’s so much fun to think and create.
First day tradition: Start the day early and go out to every campus and classroom.
Favorite first-day memory: Every first day is exciting. There is an energy and anticipation like no other day of the year.

Northwest ISD
Dr. Ryder Warren
49 first days
Favorite school supply: In the 1970s, it was crucial to find just the right lunch box – that was a major factor on how the school year would go.
First day tradition: I always start off on campuses for the first week of school. I like helping out with the car lines to be able to see kids, staff and parents.
Favorite first day memory: One of my favorite memories was not long ago. We built three new elementary schools in a previous school district, and these were the first new campuses built in more than 20 years. The look on all of the faces, both students and adults, was priceless as we opened those new buildings.

Paradise ISD
Robert Criswell
66 first days
Favorite school supply: That would be a toss-up between my new tennis shoes called PF Flyers or my new lunch box, which was a Buck Rogers space cadet model.
First day tradition: As a child it was to get up early after a sleepless night and rush to get dressed and off to school. As a career educator, I still get here early and try to get to as many campuses as I can to see all the kids come in fresh and shiny in new clothes, shoes, backpacks and supplies. Absolute favorite time.
Favorite first day memory: One of my favorite memories of the first day of school was taking my oldest son to school on his first day in kindergarten. His mom and I dropped him off to his classroom and proceeded to leave the school. Upon turning the corner, we saw him running out the back door headed for the street home. That was an early sign of school not being his favorite place.

ENIS

Slidell ISD
Greg Enis
54 first days
Favorite school supply: I don’t recall any specific favorites. Our family really enjoys this time of year as we help support our students and families as they prepare for the first day of classes.
First day tradition: While I grew up in a family of educators, I reflect back on my first year as a teacher — coach at Mart High School and how that tremendous opportunity fundamentally changed my belief system.
Favorite first day memory: My most vivid first day of school coincided with my first day as superintendent in Slidell ISD – August 2004. I remember driving that bus route not knowing for sure exactly where to stop. I remember a Spanish speaking kindergarten student crawling up the steps of the bus and looking me square in the eyes. Her courage made me lose all apprehension about the route as my problem was minor in comparison to the challenge she faced in terms of getting on the bus for the first time without any reservations. This young lady graduated from Slidell in May 2017 as our salutatorian with many distinguished awards and accomplishments. She will be starting her college career this fall.

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Boyd ISD nets major grants, new programs coming soon


Big Money

BIG MONEY – Boyd Education Foundation donors TD Smyers (left) and Lupe Batterton (right) present Boyd High School teacher Chelsea Crane with a check as part of the foundation’s prize patrol. Submitted photo

Boyd Education Foundation awarded more than $16,000 to faculty members last Monday to begin or continue extracurricular programs for students in the district.

At Boyd Elementary, the foundation gave $9,393.40 toward Read to Succeed, a program with the goal of starting a leveled reading library to measure and improve student reading levels. The program will serve an estimated 350 students.

Third grade language arts teacher Katy Allen said the school will be able to purchase 600 new books and better implement the school’s guided reading program with the grant.

“I have some students that read on a third grade level and some that are on a sixth grade level,” she said. “What this will enable us to do is to have access to books we can pick out for students that are on their specific reading level.”

The school also garnered $2,424.90 for PE Goes Digital, which will purchase gaming mats and a Wii gaming system to encourage an estimated 400 students to dance in their PE classes.

“It’s technology that we can bring into PE,” said instructor Ashley Hines. “They already use that stuff at home, so it’s more we can integrate with them. These are 21st century learning skills. Everything is changing. It’s different, so we have to mold and change with them.

“[The kids] can realize exercise isn’t just running,” Hines said.

At the middle school, the foundation awarded $473.10 to give an estimated 190 students the opportunity to shoot and create videos with their cell phones. A total of $595 was awarded to the school to start a summer sewing club for 16 to 32 students. Each member will work over the summer to quilt one blanket for a baby in neonatal intensive care and one for themselves.

The high school was given $3,200 to start The Great Boyd Food Truck, a program that will put students in charge of a self-sustaining food truck business, which will take the form of smaller, food-serving stations.

Family and Consumer Science Instructor Chelsea Crane said students will be required to create budgets, shop for food and prepare it for the public at the school’s food truck rally May 26.

“Basically, it’s a way for the student to hone in on their culinary skills and also their small business entrepreneurship,” she said.

The food truck rally will run from the end of school to 5 p.m. in either the cafeteria or parking lot.

Since its inception in 2013, the foundation has awarded $55,482.19.

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Former staff inducted into Hall of Honor


Boyd ISD added four new members to its Hall of Honor Friday night.

The four new inductees were Sue Gill, Mozelle Harris, Doyle Hood and Gabie Sue McCaleb.

A ceremony honoring the quartet was held Friday before the school’s annual homecoming. They were also recognized between the first and second quarter of the football game.

Deserved Honors

DESERVED HONORS – Boyd ISD honored four new members of its Hall of Honor Friday – Gabie Sue McCaleb, Sue Gill, Mozelle Harris and Doyle Hood. Messenger photo by Kelly Basting

SUE GILL

Sue Gill started working at Boyd ISD as an instructional aide for the 1974-1975 school year. She was later moved into the superintendent’s office to serve as secretary and to keep the athletic financial books.

She soon took over all of the payroll and personnel duties for the entire district. The payroll/personnel director was known as a mentor, a nurse, a disciplinarian and a stand-in-mother for numerous students.

She was also a cherished friend for her co-workers over the years. She was a fixture at all Boyd ISD school events and remains a sought-after substitute teacher at Boyd Elementary.

MOZELLE HARRIS

Mozelle Harris started working for Boyd ISD in 1966. She started as a substitute teacher and worked her way up through the system over the years. She served as an educational aide, an educational secretary and the superintendent’s secretary.

Harris’ specialty was finance. She kept the books for Boyd ISD for a number of years. Any and all aspects of finance was her job. From developing budgets, to processing requisitions and purchase orders, to balancing bank sheets, she was in charge of it.

She was a stickler for detail in a job that requires precision and accuracy.

DOYLE HOOD

Doyle Hood came to Boyd High School from Bridgeport in 1959 to take over the job of high school principal.

Prior to entering into teaching and coaching, Hood was a medic in World War II and was part of the Normandy Invasion on D-Day.

From all accounts, Hood had a large stature. This earned him the nick name “Bear.”

He built strong relationships with students and played countless games of dominoes with them.

He also took a high school government class to hear President John F. Kennedy speak in 1963 in the parking lot of the Hotel Texas. By the time students returned to school, the president had been assassinated.

GABIE SUE MCCALEB

Gabie Sue McCaleb started her teaching career in 1917 at Greenwood High School in Wise County. She also taught high school English at Rhome High School, Decatur High School, Clifton High School, Shelbyville High School, Goree High School and San Jacinto Shephard High School.

In 1957, after her husband G.E. McCaleb died, Mrs. McCaleb returned to her original home of Wise County where she would spend the rest of her life. She found a job teaching high school English for the 1957-58 school year at Boyd High School. McCaleb taught school for 36 years prior to coming to Boyd.

She spent the next 12 years teaching English at Boyd. She was known as a tough teacher who was a stickler for perfection. Mrs. McCaleb retired in 1970 at the age of 70 after a 48-year career teaching English and grammar to high school students.

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Boyd ISD to send more money to state; Recapture amount balloons to $750K


Boyd ISD’s recapture amount as a Chapter 41 school will increase from $83,824 this year to $752,724 for 2015-16.

The recapture hit, along with a dip in values, leaves the district with a projected $389,327 deficit in the preliminary maintenance and operations budget discussed Monday night in a special called meeting.

Trustees will take another look at the budget and plan to adopt the $13.853 million spending plan – $12.288 million for maintenance and operations and $1.564 million for debt service Monday night. Trustees will also consider a tax rate of $1.22 per $100 of evaluation – $1.04 for maintenance and operations and 18 cents for debt service.

Boyd ISD Superintendent Ted West said the tax rate will remain the same, with the district absorbing the deficit on the maintenance and operations side and $180,943 for debt service.

The district has slightly over $6 million in its general fund reserves and $400,000 in its debt service accounts, allowing it to absorb the deficits.

“No one wants to pass deficit budgets,” West told school board members.

“We’re confident if we have to go into reserves by $400,000 we can sustain it for a year.”

The budget includes a 3 percent raise for support staff, teacher step raises, a new CNC/Boyd Learning Center Program instructor and health science program instructor. The district also adjusted coaching stipends.

“We’ve got a good budget. We were forced to prioritize, and we are putting employees as a priority,” West said.

Payroll represents 68 percent of the budget with $5.567 million earmarked for instruction. Instruction pay was down $33,000 due to retirement, according to West.

“A lot of thought and work went into [the budget],” said Boyd School Board President Ernest Partin. “If you take the recapture out, we’d be in good shape. That’s the way it is.

“We’ve had many workshops, and this is the direction we want to go,” he said. “We knew it was going to cost us, but for us to be competitive, it’s what we’ve got to do.”

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Back to School: Boyd


BOYD ELEMENTARY SCHOOL

  • Clinten Bailey, teacher, Azle
  • Ashley Hines, teacher, Gainesville
  • Amanda Shumway, teacher, Azle
  • Amy Thomas, teacher, Decatur

BOYD MIDDLE SCHOOL

  • Vance Estel, teacher/coach, Bowie
  • Judson Foster, teacher/coach, San Saba
  • Elizabeth Pecina, teacher, first year

BOYD HIGH SCHOOL

  • Chelsea Crane, teacher, first year
  • Jacob Hines, teacher/ coach, Gainesville
  • Amanda Mathews, teacher, first year
  • Demond McDuffie, teacher, first year
  • Kevin Thomas, teacher/coach, Northwest
  • Cody Vanover, teacher/coach, Slidell

INTER-DISTRICT TRANSFERS

  • Morganne Schlegel, from Boyd Middle to district instructional technologist
  • Julie Hale, from Boyd Intermediate to Boyd Elementary, teacher
  • Charla Spraggens, from Boyd High School to Boyd Elementary, teacher
  • Eden Sultemeir, Boyd Intermediate to Boyd Middle, teacher/coach

BACK-TO-SCHOOL EVENTS

AUG. 13

  • Fish Camp is 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Boyd High School.

AUG. 20

  • Boyd Middle School Meet the Teacher is at 5 p.m.

AUG. 25

  • First day of school
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Boyd ISD names field for Cartwright; District to unveil name at homecoming

Boyd ISD names field for Cartwright; District to unveil name at homecoming


The Boyd Yellowjackets will now play on a football field named for the head coach that led the school to two state titles – J.G. Cartwright.

Boyd school board members Monday night attached the name of the coach that spent 38 years at the district to the school’s stadium. It will be known as J.G. Cartwright Field at Yellowjacket Stadium.

HIS TURF – Boyd school board members attached retired coach J.G. Cartwright’s name to the district’s football stadium. It will now be J.G. Cartwright Field at Yellowjacket Stadium. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

“It means a lot to me,” said Boyd ISD School Board President Ernest Partin. “I got to play for him. But more than that, he’s a great guy all the way around.

“He gave this town something to cheer for and brought it together with the two state titles. But above that this is for the mentor that he’s been.”

Cartwright retired in June 2012 after working within the district since 1974. He spent 35 years as the Boyd head coach, winning state titles in 1983 and 2004. His Yellowjackets won 273 games over his time on the sidelines. Boyd also posted 28 winning seasons while bouncing between 2A and 3A.

Trustees want to unveil the new name at homecoming Sept. 25.

In other business Monday, trustees awarded the bid for replacing the roof at Boyd Elementary to American Pride of Dallas. The contractor submitted a bid of $75,883.04, which was more than $10,000 less than the other eight contractors. Bids ranged from $75,883 to $122,862.

American Pride also offered a 10-year warranty, the longest among contractors.

“There was a big discrepancy. We spent a lot of time on the phone checking to make sure the bids were all the same and checking references,” said Boyd ISD Superintendent Ted West.

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Boyd ISD to replace roof at elementary


Spring storms damaged the roof at Boyd Elementary, and the district is seeking proposals to get it replaced before the start of school.

Boyd ISD will accept proposals to replace the composition roof through noon July 27.

The district received an insurance settlement of $104,185 for the roof damage.

“We hope it’s enough, but we haven’t seen any bids,” said Superintendent Ted West. “We hope we’re not out any money.”

The district had the roofs inspected after a series of severe storms in the spring.

“We weren’t suspecting any hail damage, but we had [inspectors] come out and check,” West said. “They said the composition roof was a total loss.”

West said other structures in the district were OK.

The district held a prebid meeting with contractors Thursday and discussed the tight time line for the project. The district is requesting for the job to be completed before its staff development begins in mid-August.

“It’s a pretty tight window, but they all seemed confident they could get it done,” West said.

Boyd School Board has a special meeting Aug. 3 to accept a proposal.

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Meeting Previews for Saturday, July 11, 2015


GRADING GUIDELINES – Boyd ISD administrators will present new grading guidelines for trustees to review Monday night. Administrators have spent the past few months reworking grading procedures to bring them in line with the district’s goals. “We’ve spent a lot of time and have come to a good consensus [on the grading guideline],” said Boyd ISD Superintendent Ted West earlier this week. “It was very evident how outdated our guidelines were. We’ve moved toward more project-based learning and nowhere is that addressed in our guidelines.” The administration will also present student dress code and attendance guidelines to board members. The district will also review proposals from a pair of drivers education programs. The meeting is 6:30 p.m. at the administration building, 600 Knox Ave.

REUNION RV SPOTS – Wise County commissioners Monday will discuss a pilot program providing 12 RV spots at the Wise County Fairgrounds on Friday and Saturday night of the 2015 Wise County Old Settlers Reunion, which runs July 19-25. The meeting is at 9 a.m. in the third-floor conference room of the county courthouse in Decatur. It’s open to the public.

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Parents have voice on issues via survey


Parents at Boyd ISD are getting their chance to weigh in on their child’s education.

The district is providing an online survey for parents to give feedback on a variety of topics and issues, including the quality and type of classroom lessons, safety and communications.

The survey includes 25 questions.

“We do one every year,” said Boyd ISD Superintendent Ted West. “We also do a student and staff survey. We use it to help make decisions. It’s important to hear what the stakeholders have to say.”

The anonymous survey has been online for several weeks and will remain up through Thursday. Parents are asked what school their child attends.

As of Friday, 197 parents had taken the survey. The breakdown of those responding were 77 parents of elementary students, 50 intermediate, 36 middle school and 87 high school.

Assistant Superintendent Barbara Stice said the numbers are close to the 227 that participated last year.

“It helps us as we look for areas that have shown improvement and what needs to address,” Stice explained.

Last year’s survey indicated the district should work on its communication with parents about events and issues at school.

“Parents felt like they didn’t know what was going on,” Stice said.

After last year’s responses, Stice and West said the district moved away from a reliance on email to using social media and automated text messages to get out information to parents.

“We’re curious to see how they will respond this year,” West said. “There should be an improvement.”

The survey results will be shared with the site-based committee meeting May 20. The results will be presented to the school board in June.

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Boyd ISD helps parents compute


In classrooms today, “blogs,” “wikis,” and “webinars” are part of everyday lingo, but at home it’s a foreign language for parents.

“If parents are not using the technology, they may not understand what that is,” said Angie Kilcrease, Boyd ISD technology director.

To help parents get a better grasp of the technology and the lingo being used in the classroom, Kilcrease will hold an interactive session Monday evening – “iPad 101 4 Parents.” The session will start at 6 in the Boyd High School cafeteria.

“We’ll go over the basics of the iPad with a lot of focus on the parental controls,” Kilcrease said. “We’ll go over how to look at the history and see what their kids are accessing online and try to familiarize them with the device.”

Boyd students from pre-kindergarten through high school have access to iPads. Students from grades four and up have been issued iPads since the start of the 2013-14 school year.

Boyd Superintendent Ted West said the move to iPads is part of the district’s commitment to project-based learning.

“That’s a big push,” West said. “It’s a necessary tool today. We try to get buy-in from the parents. The technology is not going away anytime soon.”

Kilcrease said she’s held previous sessions for parents about the technology being used in the classroom.

“I’m hoping for a good turnout. It’s to benefit them and get them comfortable with what we’re using,” Kilcrease said.

Parents are asked to bring an iPad to Monday’s session and may use their student’s device. Kilcrease said some iPads will be available for parents to follow the lessons.

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Project center construction to start soon


Construction will begin soon on Boyd ISD’s new ag project center.

School board members Thursday night approved $30,250 in construction plan changes to pave the way for the start of the project by Dallas Tate Construction of Bowie.

The total cost of the 8,400-square-foot facility is an estimated $215,000. The construction contract with Tate is $167,800.

Superintendent Ted West told trustees the building will take two months to build and will be ready for next school year.

“It’s something that is desperately needed,” he said.

The facility will feature cattle and small animal pens for students to house their projects. There will also be room for students to practice their showmanship, according to West.

The new facility will be located just west of the student parking lot at Boyd High School.

The facility will replace the previous ag barn that was damaged in the December 2013 ice storm. West said an insurance settlement on the previous structure will offset part of the construction cost.

“It’ll offset some of the cost, but this is a lot more of a building,” West said.

In other business, trustees approved the 2015-16 school calendar.

Boyd students will not get a full week off for Thanksgiving next year. The district will hold classes Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 23-24.

The move was made to get additional days of class before state testing.

The district will start classes Aug. 25 and end the school year June 2. Spring break will be March 14-18.

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Former Boyd ISD school employees honored


Boyd ISD honored five former employees during homecoming festivities last Friday.

Former high school coach and teacher Terry Spradlin, high school teacher Charlotte Todd, Superintendent Bill Lipstreu, elementary teacher Barbara Boyd and teacher/coach and Principal Bob Grundy comprised the fourth class of inductees into the Boyd ISD Wall of Honor Sept. 19.

Wall of Honor

WALL OF HONOR – The 2014 Boyd ISD Wall of Honor inductees (third from left) Barbara Boyd, Charlotte Todd, Bob Grundy, Terry Spradlin and the late Bill Lipstreu, represented by his family, were honored between the first and second quarters at Boyd’s homecoming game last week. Messenger Photo by Mack Thweatt

“We started this about three years ago here at Boyd ISD, and it is one of the highlights of the year in regards to having people come back and have a chance to visit and reconnect with people that have a great impact on the lives of students of Boyd ISD,” Superintendent Ted West told the crowd gathered at the induction ceremony at Boyd High School.

A committee of former employees, former students and current employees compile a list of individuals to be considered.

“This year, just like the past few years, has been a difficult process as far as the selection, but [the committee] has arrived at a decision, and we have five inductees this year. This is the most inductees that we’ve had.

“I hope we’re not going to run out of people to honor over the years, but eventually we might get there,” he joked.

This year’s inductees are as follows:

BARBARA BOYD

After graduating from Texas Woman’s University in Denton in 1971, Barbara Boyd began teaching at the elementary school, where she remained for the next 29 years.

During that time Boyd also served as a department head and a mentor to numerous student teachers.

Her students remember her as a strict disciplinarian in the classroom.

“Ms. Boyd loved her students and cared enough about them and their potential to not accept anything other than their very best,” West said. “Ms. Boyd, your students thank you for your attention to detail.”

COACH BOB GRUNDY

Bob Grundy served Boyd ISD for 11 years.

He joined the coaching staff in 1964 – after stints in Whitesboro, Era and Santo – and remained at Boyd ISD until the 1975 school year.

In addition to coaching and teaching, Grundy was also principal at Boyd Elementary.

“The resignation letter for Mr. Grundy said, ‘There is no way my family can express how we feel about the joys we have experienced while I have been employed here,'” West said. “Coach Grundy, I want you to understand something – that this community feels the same way about you, and we are proud to induct you into the Boyd ISD Wall of Honor.”

BILL LIPSTREU

The committee awarded a posthumous award to Bill Lipstreu, a former commercial teacher, basketball coach, annual (yearbook) sponsor and school newspaper editor.

“I’m assuming that has something to do with a vocational program,” West said. ” … Unfortunately, Mr. Lipstreu passed away just a few months ago. But we are proud that his family could be here.”

Lipstreu joined the Boyd ISD staff in 1949. Four years later he became superintendent, and he served in that role until his resignation in 1970.

“Mr. Lipstreu served Boyd ISD as its superintendent for 17 years,” West said. “Let me pause there for just a second, because 17 years as a superintendent in Boyd, Texas, is quite an accomplishment. I am the third superintendent in six years that we’ve had here. If I can get anywhere close to that, I’ll be proud.”

Mr. Lipstreu went on to finish his career in Springtown ISD.

TERRY SPRADLIN

Storied basketball coach Terry Spradlin came to Boyd in 1968.

Over his 15-year stint at BISD, Spradlin served as middle school principal, transportation director and girls basketball and track coach.

His basketball team qualified for the state basketball tournament in 1980 and 1982.

“Coach Spradlin is still loved by many of his students and players that taught and coached with him over the years,” West said.

CHARLOTTE TODD

Charlotte Todd started working at Boyd High School in 1980 as an English and history teacher.

She taught many social studies classes during her time at Boyd, but most remember her as a government and economics teacher.

“You have been very fondly remembered, and everyone that I had visited with spoke very highly of you,” West told her during the ceremony. “When you went to her class, it was business. You went in there, you had a job to do, you did it. You didn’t mess around because if you did, you knew you were going to get in trouble.

There was immense respect for you.”

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Volunteers needed for mentoring program


Boyd Middle School Principal James McDonald admits lunchtime is the saddest part of the day for some students.

“They’re sitting over in the corner by themselves, or they may be sitting at a table with a bunch of other people, but there’s nobody sitting right around them. Or they may be sitting in the group, but they’re not talking to anybody,” he said. “I sit here during lunch every day, and I can tell you who’s making connections and who’s not. It’s not hard.”

McDonald and Bernie Maxwell, whose daughter is an eighth grader at Boyd Middle School, hope to help those students make those connections through a new community-driven mentoring program.

“It’s helping them develop that connection, letting them know someone cares,” McDonald said. “I’m not saying there aren’t people at home that care. I’m just saying sometimes that bond isn’t there.”

Maxwell, who is spearheading the initiative, participated in a similar program at Northwest ISD.

“When I came here two years ago, I didn’t see a mentoring program, and I just saw the need,” he said.

The program is not limited to any socioeconomic group, and there is no set formula in selecting students.

“It’s not to classify or put people in brackets,” Maxwell said. “Staff will recommend students they feel may need the extra support. These are not necessarily economically disadvantaged kids. They may come from a hard working family where the dad works many, many hours.

“For several of our kids, that’s a hole in their life,” McDonald added. “They don’t really have a great connection to their parent, aunt or grandparent that’s raising them because they may be working all of the time. Or if it’s a grandparent, they’re so far removed from being in the school environment, they don’t really know what to expect.

“They’re probably overwhelmed, too. So we’ll start off with trying to pair people up and develop some relationships.

“Them knowing there’s someone out there that cares beyond their teacher, beyond their parents – that in and of itself will give us such huge dividends.”

While developing relationships is the heart of the program, there are other purposes. Mentors are asked to provide educational support.

This can range from helping them with projects and homework or encouraging daily attendance to encouraging students to further their education beyond high school or guiding them through decision-making and the consequences of their choices.

“Use your life experiences and help them navigate those challenges,” Maxwell said.

Volunteers may also help students with social struggles.

“A strong and consistent benefit is the reduction of depressive symptoms,” Maxwell said. “It’s not just symptoms of homework. It’s symptoms of fitting in, clothing/appearance. They worry about a lot. They worry about more than they should worry about.

“With the Internet, Facebook, Instagram – let me tell you, there’s a lot of pressure on these kids that I didn’t have … But gains in social acceptance, academic attitudes and grades is a proven statistic for kids who profit from mentoring.”

The program is not limited to parents of students. In fact, McDonald and Maxwell hope to enlist the help of community members, especially local business owners.

“It creates a greater sense of community and school involvement,” Maxwell said. “I would like to see some business owners involved in this program so that we can tie Main Street with Boyd ISD.”

“[Community members] have careers beyond what [the students’] parents and grandparents have, and it expands that horizon,” McDonald added. “All they know is what’s inside their little life.

“This is the reason I got into education. It wasn’t always necessarily to teach math. It was to impact kids, and this program can do that. I am exceptionally excited.”

WHAT IS NEEDED FROM VOLUNTEERS:

  • an hour or two a month;
  • ability to listen and guide the mentee in their daily lives;
  • provide encouragement;
  • attend scheduled lunch or breakfast mentoring activities to discuss what’s going well and what’s not going well, and ways to move forward; and
  • set life and academic goals with your mentees.

“Sometimes there’s no discussion from parents,” said Bernie Maxwell, who is coordinating the initiative. “It’s up to us to open them up and challenge them to think that way.”

To volunteer in the community-driven program at Boyd Middle School, call principal James McDonald at 940-433-9560.

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Boyd ISD trustees approve budget


Boyd ISD has a fiscal plan for next year.

Following a public hearing, the Boyd school board approved a $10,906,226 general fund budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. It will be funded, in part, by a tax rate of $1.22 – $1.04 for maintenance and operations (same as last year) and 18 cent-rate for interest and sinking or debt service.

With total taxable values of $896,720,655, the M&O tax rate will generate $9,135,827.27. Appropriations total just more than $10 million, creating a deficit of about $170,000 – less than this year’s anticipated shortfall of $185,000.

“With our fund balance being very healthy, I think that’s something that we can absorb,” Superintendent Ted West said. “I am comfortable expending those type of funds to fund the programs.”

The I&S is a half-cent less than last year’s rate, generating a total of $1,566,000 to service debt.

“Because the values were up, it takes less of a tax rate to generate the same amount of funds,” West said. “If we kept it at 18-1/2 cents, we would have to have a rollback election, which means we’d have to take that to the voters and they could roll it back even further than that. We don’t want to do anything that would trigger that.”

Trustees also approved a $611,203 food service fund, which is separate from the general fund budget.

“We were able to give pay raises to everybody in our school district,” West said. “We were able to start up some new programs. We are excited about expanding some of our existing programs, too. We think this a good, solid budget that’s going to be able to fund all of the activities that we think will make a successful school year.”

CHAPTER 41

As a property-wealthy school district, Boyd ISD is required to send some of its local funds back to Austin to be redistributed to schools identified as “property poor.”

“We have several different options in the way that we can do that,” West said. “The best option that we’ve always used is Option 3, which is to purchase attendance credits from the state.”

Under that option, rather than the school district receiving money from the state and then having to turn around and write a check back to the state, the state just withholds the money from state funds in the form of “attendance credits.”

“It’s the easiest way and less money, less paperwork going back and forth,” West said.

SAFETY REPORT

Boyd ISD safety coordinator Ken Murray reported on the district’s state of security.

Murray, who retired after a 22-year career in law enforcement to go into education, led a group that conducted a security audit beginning in February.

The group looked at the district’s four campuses – the elementary, intermediate, middle and high schools – as well as the early childhood center, athletic facilities, bus barn and administration building.

Auditors commended the district on certain precautions, including fencing around air conditioning units.

“This secures the air conditioning units from the safety aspect but also from the theft aspect,” Murray said.

Although the overall safety and security of the district was praised, several needed improvements were identified.

School officials took some corrective action this summer, such as installing double doors at the intermediate, middle and high schools.

“The ability to access the main halls of the intermediate, middle and high schools without first going through the office was a cause for concern,” Murray said. “Now (with the double doors) visitors come in the main door but cannot get to classrooms without first coming through the office.”

The elementary school already had those doors in place.

A few other suggested improvements are in progress, including the installation of a security light near the gate at the bus barn and numbering the inside and outside of all exterior doors.

“This is more for emergency responders,” Murray said. “That way they know exactly what door an intruder may be at, what exit they need to cover, etc.”

School officials will also look into installing a Knox-Box Rapid entry system, which would essentially give emergency responders “a key to the key to any school building.”

“We feel we do a pretty good job of making sure we have a safe system in place, safe organizations,” West said. “We are constantly doing different types of drills and evaluating. Hopefully we never have to use any one of them. Hopefully it’s all just drills. But the world we live in these days, it’s a necessary evil that we practice these things and plan for these things.

“If anything were to happen … fortunately we do have a little bit of a comfort level that we do have a good system in place.”

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Boyd ISD trustees to wrap budget process


Boyd ISD officials hope to wrap up the budget-writing process next week.

During its regular meeting Monday, trustees will vote on the budget and tax rate for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

In a special session before the meeting, the board will hold the required public hearings on the budget, with citizens invited to give their input.

Trustees will also consider attendance credits, the school safety and security audit and an amendment to the current budget.

The board will meet in closed session to discuss personnel matters and deliberate about real property.

The meeting, which begins with the special session at 6:30 p.m., will be held at the Administration Board Room, 600 Knox Ave.

It is open to the public.

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Deficit budget to include salary boosts


Boyd ISD trustees are facing a budget deficit for the upcoming fiscal year.

Projected revenue is $10,726,644 while proposed expenditures total $10,906,226 for a deficit of $179,582.

But they’re OK with it.

For one thing, the district’s savings of approximately $6 million could easily absorb the anticipated shortfall, which is lower than the $182,000 outstanding amount expected for the current fiscal year.

“We have a healthy fund balance for a district our size,” Superintendent Ted West said. “When you hear deficit, we all know that means we’re spending more than we’re bringing in, and one of the reasons I feel confident we can do that is because of where our fund balance is right now.”

About 78 percent of the $10,906,226 in proposed expenditures funnels into payroll – $289,000 more than was allotted last year.

Most of that increase is due to the raises approved for all Boyd ISD employees.

In May, the district completely revamped its pay scale for teachers, increasing pay grades up to 14.5 percent. The next month, trustees approved 3-percent raises for paraprofessionals, and last week granted administrator salary increases.

“Every person in this district is getting a pay raise next year, which is huge,” West said.

“And it [the budget shortfall] is worth it to take care of our own,” Trustee Jason Hammon said.

The amount balanced out some because there were about nine retirements, West added.

REVENUE

Certified property tax values were up about $30 million more than anticipated, due to mineral values.

However, West pointed out that since local revenue is up, the state’s contribution drops.

Money expected to come in, and its source, is as follows:

  • $9,301,627 – local (property taxes)
  • $1,325,017 – state (based on what programs students are enrolled in)
  • $100,000 – federal.

CHAPTER 41

As a Chapter 41, property-wealthy district, Boyd ISD is required to pay an amount based on the district’s property value and Weighted Average Daily Attendance (which takes into account the number of students enrolled, their daily attendance rate and the classes and programs they are enrolled in).

This year, the district anticipates owing $83,824, which will be taken from the state’s contribution.

“It’s not like we have to send it back to them,” West said. “They just withhold it from us.”

Board President Ernest Partin said the amount has been as high as $500,000. Implementing an open transfer policy, which allows kids who live outside the district to attend BISD schools without paying tuition, has helped.

REDUCTIONS

District officials did identify a few areas where they can cut corners.

The transportation fund shows a $67,000 decrease due to the consolidation of bus routes and eliminating a middle-of-the-day route to Bridgeport for special education services.

“We’ll have one bus that’ll go over in the morning, one bus that will go over in the afternoon,” West said. “But we felt kids that were eligible to be there for half-a-day, there’s no reason why they can’t be here a full day.”

Restructuring in library staffing yielded another $10,000 savings.

In addition, there is no money budgeted for new tech equipment or capital outlay.

“We’ve still got money in the bank if we need to do things, if we want to build something new,” West said.

—–

The budget will be presented at the board’s next meeting, Monday, Aug. 18.

“It’s a pretty lean budget,” West said. “The days of coming in a million dollars under budget are over. When we were doing those things, there was padding in those budgets so it was easy. This budget that we’re talking about for next year, that’s not in there. There’s just no way. With all of the extra things we’ve committed to with salaries, with programs, the days of coming 10 percent under budget, it’s just not happening.

“But we’re going to do everything we can to keep a lid on it.”

MORE NEW HIRES

Following the budget workshop Monday, the Boyd school board hired two additional teachers:

  • Sean Hollis, middle school coach;
  • Stephanie Calkins, fourth-grade science.

At its meeting last week, the board hired 12 other staff members.

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Boyd ISD school day extended


Students in Boyd ISD will be in class 15 minutes longer each school day beginning in the fall.

This was one of several handbook changes approved by trustees Monday night, and it will allow for the addition of an advisory/tutorials period at the intermediate, middle and high schools.

Dismissals will begin with pre-K at 2:45 p.m. Other campuses will follow, with the final release set for 3:45 p.m. at the high school.

“Implementing that advisory period will be great for students who need help to get it, and students who are passing can use it as a study hall,” BHS Principal Scott Nedrow said. “It’s a win/win for everyone.”

Another change to the parent/student handbook will reduce the iPad issue fees from $45 to $30.

Fees for students who qualify for free and reduced lunches will remain the same – $20 for reduced and $10 for free.

“We didn’t spend near as much as we budgeted, so we feel like it would be appropriate to cut the parents a break,” Assistant Superintendent Barbara Stice said.

ADDITIONAL CHANGES

Other changes to the handbooks reflect items previously approved by the board.

In April, trustees implemented prerequisites for advanced courses at the middle and high schools. Students must meet minimum STAAR test scores and grade averages in similar courses before attempting an advanced class.

The school board also in April approved changes to calculating grade-point averages at the high school, beginning with this year’s freshman class. Only core course subjects, including English, foreign language, math, science and social studies, will factor into a student’s GPA.

Pre-AP, AP and dual class credits will continue to be weighted, but in a slightly different and more efficient manner. Students will have an additional 5 percent of their overall grade added on at the end of the semester for pre-AP courses. For example, if a student earned a 100 in a pre-AP course, they would be awarded a 105 at semester’s end for the class.

AP and dual credit courses will add on 10 percent of their overall score. Thus, a 100 would become a 110.

In the substitute handbook, trustees approved increasing substitute pay for paraprofessional/food service substitutes from $50 to $60.

In the employee handbook, the board also approved eliminating five sub-deduct days and adding a personal leave day.

“In sub-deduct days, rather than being docked your full daily rate, if you run out of days, we charge what it would cost to pay for your substitute,” Superintendent Ted West said.

For example, for an employee who makes $300 a day, $60 would be deducted from the day’s earning so the employee would still receive $240.

District employees receive five state sick leave days and three district days. Employees can also join the sick bank by contributing one personal leave day.

In addition, employees will be paid an incentive of $60 a day if they don’t use their personal leave days.

IN OTHER NEWS

The board also:

  • tabled action on increasing the maximum class size.
  • approved selling two tracts of delinquent tax properties – 1 acre and 2.55 acres – in Brighton Oaks. The properties did not generate any bids at an auction held earlier this month, but the district received a sealed bid paying $4,000 each, for a total of $8,000. “The sale price wouldn’t make up the difference for the back tax owed on those, but it would get the properties back on the tax roll,” West said.
  • recognized members of the FFA, who attended the state convention in Fort Worth earlier this month. Dillon Rose, Carlen Smith, Bailey Smith and Sequoia Smith earned Lone Star Degrees, the highest degree of membership the state FFA association can award. Daniel McCurdy received the state proficiency award.
  • approved a budget amendment to account for money paid by the Teacher Retirement System to the district. It was inadvertently left out of this year’s budget. “It’s always been done in the past,” district business manager Linda Ratliff said.
  • extended a contract with King, Moore, Truelove and Pharis, certified public accountants, for the annual audit. Cost is $18,900.
  • approved the district improvement plan.
  • heard a policy update on graduation plans as outlined by House Bill 5.
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