Bridgeport board sets breakfast prices, talks renovations

There was a little less action and a lot more talk at the Bridgeport ISD board of trustees meeting Monday night.

The consent agenda, which was the only item to be acted on, passed 6-0. This included a decision to set district breakfast prices at $1.50, which would ensure that students would be able to get a meal consisting of one cup of milk, two servings of fruit, two whole grains or one whole grain and meat.

The current breakfast meal reimbursement is $1.62 for students receiving free benefits, $1.32 for reduced benefits plus 30 cents in student payment to equal $1.62, and 28 cents for full-paid students.

The board members then discussed a series of changes that could possibly be made for the upcoming school year, including athletics facilities and agricultural science facility renovations.

One such facility was the high school football stadium. In order to build bleacher additions in the stadium, the current pressbox would have to be taken down and possibly rebuilt. There was discussion about whether or not a new pressbox was even necessary, since an elevator would be required if it were bigger than 500 square feet.

Board member Tom Talley said pressboxes weren’t needed now because they aren’t used for their original function anymore.

“There’s not much of a need for pressboxes now because people don’t scout like they used to,” Talley said.

Other facility updates considered were new dugouts for the high school baseball field, since the wooden support beams holding up the roofs are rotting and a new barn for the agricultural sciences department. No action was taken on any of the facility updates.

The board also:

  • heard a monthly finance report and set Aug. 25 as the meeting date for the 2014-15 budget and tax rate adoption;
  • listened to a presentation on district accountability ratings, which the district met and exceeded last year; and
  • discussed when and where to install wireless-operated electronic marquee signs at each campus. The high and middle school signs would each cost around $30,000, and the intermediate and elementary school signs would cost around $20,000.

The board’s next regular meeting will be 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 15, in the board conference room at 2107 15th Street. It is open to the public.

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Bridgeport ISD trustees to discuss renovations

The Bridgeport ISD Board of Trustees will discuss baseball dugouts and football field and agriculture science animal barn renovations at its meeting Monday.

In addition to facility renovations, the board will also:

  • hear a monthly finance report;
  • go over the budget for the upcoming fiscal year;
  • review updated Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) policies;
  • discuss each campus’s electronic message boards; and
  • hear a superintendent’s report.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the conference room at 2107 15th St. and is open to the public.

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Budget workshop scheduled Monday

The Bridgeport ISD Board of Trustees will discuss the 2014-15 budget at a special meeting Monday.

In addition to the budget workshop, the board will also:

  • review student and athletic handbooks;
  • take action on the 2014-15 BISD Code of Conduct;
  • decide on whether or not to approve an energy conservation contract with Cenergistic that was discussed at the last meeting;
  • consider and take action on the employee resignation agreement;
  • take action to approve District policy EIC (LOCAL);
  • take action on hiring schedules;
  • and decide whether to approve a recommended Maintenance and Operation tax rate and Interest an Sinking fund tax rate.

The meeting will be at 7 p.m. in the conference room at 2107 15th Street and is open to the public.

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Bridgeport school board to discuss lunches

The Bridgeport school board will discuss lunch prices for the upcoming school year when they meet Monday.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the administration building, 2107 15th Street.

Trustees will also hear from superintendent Eddie Bland and discuss additional budget items including:

  • A lease agreement for property at 2105 16th Street;
  • Possible approval of Shady Oaks Drive roadway easement;
  • Selection of a delegate for the 2014 Texas Association of School Board Delegate Assembly; and
  • Possible football field renovations.

The meeting is open to the public.

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Parents kick around the idea of adding soccer

A large crowd piled into the Bridgeport ISD board room Monday night, spilling into the hallways and outside the building – all in support of the district adding soccer.

Children in soccer uniforms and adults holding signs declaring their wish lined the sidewalk to the front doors.

A representative of the Bridgeport Youth Association addressed the board in public forum, encouraging them to consider adding the sport because it’s “an excellent form of physical fitness.”

“Other parents have expressed interest in transferring their students to the district if soccer is added,” she said. “One-hundred seventy-five kids participated in rec soccer this spring There is a need for soccer in this district, and now is the time to include it in the district.”

The University Interscholastic League is adding a third classification for 2014-15.

Board members were unable to take action on the request because it wasn’t an agenda item, but said they would take it into consideration.

The board approved BISD’s Community and Student Engagement Component of the state accountability system, as required by House Bill 5.

Committees evaluated the district and campuses in the following areas: fine arts, second language acquisition and gifted and talented programs, all of which fell under Goal No. 1, student success; wellness and physical and dropout prevention strategies under goal No. 2, focus on organizational excellence; goal No. 3, focus on family and community relations; and goal No. 5, focus on 21st century learning, which included 21st century workforce development and digital learning environment.

Committees assigned ratings of exemplary, recognized, acceptable or unacceptable to issues brought up within each of these areas.

Superintendent Eddie Bland said it was a year-long process. District representatives said many positive things were mentioned and action plans would be put in place to improve areas that received lower ratings.

The lowest rating assigned by committee members was an “acceptable” in digital learning environment because elementary students sign the same acceptable-use policy as middle school and high school students. Committee members would prefer that elementary students sign a document specifically written for their age group.

NEW MEMBERS

Although there are two new faces on the Bridgeport school board, the slate of officers didn’t change.

Monday night Scott Hiler and Steve Stanford took office, but the officer line-up will remain James Bost, president; Charles Mauldin, vice president; Scott Stowers, secretary; and Tom Talley, assistant secretary.

Trustees also canvassed the votes from the May 10 election.

In other business, board members:

  • approved a curriculum change to allow students to receive physical education credit for classes taken outside of school, such as ballet, swimming or karate;
  • recognized UIL academic winners, track team, tennis players, golf teams and FFA members;
  • approved contract renewals for certified personnel and the contracts for new middle school teachers Marla Vineyard and Haley Wilborn;
  • granted Bland the authority to offer probationary contracts to new professional employees through Aug. 18.

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New trustees to take office in Bridgeport ISD

The Bridgeport school board will canvass results of the May 10 trustee election at its meeting Monday night.

The board will meet at 7 p.m. in the board conference room at 2107 15th St. New school board members Scott Hiler and Steve Stanford will be given the oath of office, and board officers will be elected.

Board members will also consider new personnel and resignations and consider granting the superintendent the authority to offer probationary contracts to new professional employees through Aug. 18, 2014.

They will also consider the acquisition and disposition of property and will consider and take action to approve BISD’s Community and Student Engagement Component of the state accountability system.

Superintendent Eddie Bland will also give a report and run down a list of upcoming school events.

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Hiler, Stanford claim school board seats

After the votes were tallied, Bridgeport ISD had two new school board members Saturday night.

Scott Hiler and Steve Stanford won places 6 and 7, respectively.

Stanford beat out three candidates – Loretta Hill, Robert Marlett and Steven Lara – to claim the seat vacated when incumbent Marti Hines chose not to run.

Hiler defeated 15-year board veteran Ken Kilpatrick and former Bridgeport mayor Donald Majka.

Kilpatrick said the voters made their choice. He said he plans to move on and wishes Hiler all the best.

“When you’re in a political race it’s a yes or no,” Kilpatrick said. “The voters run the board just like the city. Scott will do a great job.”

Hiler said he was excited, and added that his first job as a new board member is getting acclimated to his new responsibilities and understanding what is required. His first board meeting is 7 p.m. May 19.

“Ken called to congratulate me and wish me well. I’m not really sure what led to that in my success. I led a positive campaign, and Ken and Majka led one too,” Hiler said. “There might have been a sense in the community to have more members on the board that have kids in the district.”

He said his family is excited for his win, but admittedly his three young daughters might not fully understand what all the hubbub is about.

“My wife and I view this as a family commitment and opportunity to further serve the community,” Hiler said.

Hiler also volunteers at his daughter’s school with D.O.G.S. and with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Hiler and Stanford will be sworn in May 19. Stanford is assistant chief for the Bridgeport Police Dept. and believes his experience in law enforcement as well as his Christian beliefs have prepared him for the board.

“I have a great sense of ‘service before self,’” Stanford said. “I want to serve our district with excellence and be a small piece to help raise the standard for Bridgeport ISD. I believe my current profession will only have a positive effect on my position as a trustee. I have a great understanding of leadership and management in the public sector, as well as the ability to filter personal agendas.”

Stanford said with budget season on the horizon, his first priority after some training is to get up-to-date on where the district is fiscally.

Stanford said he believes the voter turnout indicates some change is needed in the district and shows people care.

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District to replace computers

Students at Bridgeport High School next year can expect brand-new MacBook Airs.

At the end of the current school year, the MacBook Pros being used by students will be three years old.

“It’s called refreshing the student computers,” said Bridgeport Superintendent Eddie Bland. “At the end of year three is the deadline where we can still get the maximum resale value.”

Students will each receive a new, 11-inch MacBook Air. The district is also replacing teacher and staff computers at all campuses. They’ve stretched out a five-year lifespan with their current laptops, Apple MacBooks. They will be receiving 13-inch MacBook Pros.

The district will purchase 670 MacBook Airs and 250 MacBook Pros at a cost of $821,347 – plus the cost of a care plan.

The district will sell 880 used computers for $250,000.

The school board approved the purchase at Monday night’s meeting.

The board also:

  • passed a resolution to compensate employees for bad weather days;
  • amended the school calendar to make up for bad weather days. Today, Feb. 19, and Wednesday, April 16, were both originally planned to be early release days. Both are now regular, full-length schools days to help teachers make up for lost instruction time.
  • ordered the school board election for May 10. The last day to file for a spot on the ballot is Friday, Feb. 28.

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Going for a green light; Bridgeport students analyze new traffic plan

When the community problem solvers class at Bridgeport Middle School embarked on its mission to expedite after-school pick-up procedures, students devised a plan of attack organized by traffic light colors.

Green-light tasks in September, October and November kicked off the project – selecting an issue to address and collecting data to define it.

In December and through most of January, students slowed their extensive logistical efforts and instead focused on actually executing the plan – yellow-light items.

Speeding Along

SPEEDING ALONG – Students in Paula Shepherd’s community problem solvers class at Bridgeport Middle School helped implement a new, split-delay traffic flow plan to expedite after-school pick-up procedures. The class will enter this student-devised project in the Texas Future Problem Solving competition. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Students helped implement the split-delay traffic flow plan Jan. 21 – the first day of the spring semester. That afternoon, students stood outside with signs directing traffic to the appropriate places.

With the changes, sixth- and seventh-graders are picked up on the straightaway in front of the school, dubbed “67 Straight.”

Eighth-grade students, who make up the largest of the three classes at BMS, are picked up on the bus loop in front of the gym, aptly named “Loop 8.”

At the end of the week, the class met to debrief and identify strengths and areas that need improvement.

As far as positives, the suggestions of the class of 14 naturally fell into one of three categories.

Under the communication category, students said they liked the call-out, flier and announcement made at an assembly, which served to remind students of the change.

The effectiveness of these means of communication were measured in the remaining two categories – speed and procedures.

Students said traffic moved much more quickly, and without the eighth grade, 67 Straight cleared out fast.

Furthermore, the class pointed out more and more parents followed the procedures each day.

Students identified three areas that could use some improvement – the call-out, signage and confusion with procedures.

Katelyn Lanfear said not all students received the call-out, and Lane Whitsell suggested the call-out also be done in Spanish.

For signage, students reported the wind knocked down some and others had deteriorated because of cold weather.

“We’ll be getting real, permanent signs so we don’t have to worry about that anymore,” teacher Paula Shepherd said.

Under procedures, students said parents need to pull forward so there aren’t any cars in the street.

“Maybe we could have signs asking people to pull all the way up,” Kyler Holley said.

Another student suggested having their parents model it, while Jadon Maddux said the class could encourage some kids to come out the front doors so that not everybody exits the side door, as is done now.

However, classmate Kirby Russell warned of immediately implementing multiple changes.

“We might not want to start going through all this until we get the system going,” he said, “because then they’ll get really confused if we make all these changes at one time. They’re not used to it. We might want to wait a few more days.”

The class agreed and decided instead to continue with the plan as it is for four weeks total before measuring the data and analyzing it again.

“We’ve talked about the S-curve and how we may have a little downslope before it gets better,” Shepherd reminded the class. “You don’t want to measure it too early, because if you measure it too early you’re not going to have very accurate data.”

The students decided that a few more weeks would allow parents to acclimate to the changes and smooth out the process.

“If you measure it too early, you’re still in the worst, and that just doesn’t look good,” Halle Holbrook said.

“You want to measure at the top,” Maddux added.

Next week is the fourth week of the plan. In the meantime, students plan to continue with red-light tasks, which include recording a public service announcement, explaining the project in a six-page paper and finishing the scrapbook – also aptly divided into green, yellow and red sections.

The paper and scrapbook are due Feb. 12 for consideration in the Texas Future Problem Solving competition.

“We don’t have to have all the measuring completed when the project is turned in,” Shepherd said. “There’s a portion in the paper of ‘what’s to come.’ If the project qualifies for state, then it would be added.

“We hope we’ll be adding that.”

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Traffic split: Plan will reroute dismissal traffic at Bridgeport middle school

Parents picking up students from Bridgeport Middle School will notice a few changes beginning Tuesday – the first day of the second semester.

The BMS Community Problem Solvers class will implement a student-devised, “new and improved” traffic flow plan to alleviate the congestion of cars during dismissal.

As part of the plan, buses will be delayed about five minutes. Sixth- and seventh-graders will be picked up on the straightaway in front of the school, dubbed “67 Straight.”

Eighth-grade students, the largest of the three classes at BMS, will be picked up on the bus loop in front of the gym, aptly named “Loop 8.”

Parents of more than one BMS student can pick up their children at the location for the oldest student.

“We came up with this resolution by drawing a map of the school and streets within a quarter-mile radius, and we talked and brainstormed and eventually came up with the split/delay plan,” seventh-grader Bryson Morrow said. “I think it will be effective because this is splitting up all the traffic because not all grades get picked up in 67 straight, and it takes forever to get to your vehicle. Now all the congestion will reduce, and we will get out of the school zone faster.”

Students will be on hand to implement the plan Tuesday. They will review its effectiveness and make the necessary changes, if needed.

All of their progress will be documented in a rigidly-structured six-page paper, scrapbook and public service announcement, which will be submitted next month to be judged in the Texas Future Problem Solving competition.

As part of the advanced-level elective course, students entered the competition, which requires students to identify an issue – local, state or national – and develop and implement an action plan to address it.

Top entries advance to the state and national level.

“Expedite is the key word,” said sixth-grader Lane Whitsell. “We want to make traffic flow faster so that kids can get in and out of here faster.”

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Students propose plan to fix traffic

Children aren’t only the future, they are also the present.

A class at Bridgeport Middle School is transforming how students are dropped off and picked up at their school in order to ease the daily traffic jam parents and bus drivers suffer through.

The group of 14 sixth and seventh graders have developed two viable options that might improve traffic flow during pickup. They presented those options to members of the Bridgeport school board Monday night.

The first plan was called “Swap.” It designates one lane for buses and another lane for passenger cars, called Bus Boulevard and BMS Loop, respectively.

The second option is called the “Split/Delay” plan. In this scenario, the loop will be used for picking up eighth graders, and another area will be used to pick up sixth and seventh graders. All buses will be delayed by five minutes to allow parents to get in and out.

“Have y’all consulted with the police department about this?” asked school board president Jim Bost.

“Yes,” replied sixth grader Cassady Craddock. “We met with officers, the bus barn, superintendent and the president to see how they feel about it.”

“And which one are y’all going to do?” asked board member Ken Kilpatrick.

“That is supposed to be your decision,” answered Sammy Davis, a sixth grader.

Haley Barton, another sixth grader involved in the project said they were leaning toward the split/delay plan because it would ease traffic better. The students had conducted a traffic study to determine which plan would work the best.

The students are going to have the plans in place sometime between the end of Christmas break and Feb. 12. The students are members of the Community Problem Solving class taught by Paula Shepherd, advanced academics coordinator for the district.

The class will also enter their project into a state and national problem solving competition.

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Brave new world; technology moving instruction

Typically, electronic devices make a person stationary. It’s easy to imagine kids sitting in one place for hours texting or simply sliding their fingers across a touch screen all day while playing games.

But the introduction of iPads and laptops at Bridgeport schools has actually made the students more active.

Scanning the Platypus

SCANNING THE PLATYPUS – Nyree Shawn and Jared Laaser, instructional coach and assistant principal, respectively, at Bridgeport Intermediate School, demonstrate how students can showcase their digital projects by way of QR code that can be read with an iPhone or iPad. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

QR codes line the walls near the classroom of middle school math teacher Stacey Wardrup. During class, kids take turns scanning the codes with their iPads, and the codes take students to instructional videos on specific math problems.

It’s what Wardrup calls “flipping the classroom.”

The students learn how to learn on their own, giving Wardrup more one-on-one time with her students around the classroom. Rather than standing in front of the class at a chalkboard, she’s moving from desk to desk. Meanwhile, the students are active themselves – moving up, down and around the room to scan the QR codes as they learn how to solve math problems and become independent learners.

“The kids have 24-hour access to the videos,” Wardrup said. “They answer the problems and send them to me by email. I usually go to bed by 9:30, but I’m still receiving emails from kids almost at midnight as they are solving the problems on their own time.”

“Anytime you have students getting up and moving around to learn it improves student engagement,” said middle school principal Travis Whisenant. “We try to add movement to lessons.”

Make Way

MAKE WAY – Bridgeport school board members and administrators visiting campuses Thursday make way for students at the Bridgeport Intermediate School. School board President James Bost gives one passing student a high five. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Considering Wardrup is a medal-winning tri-athlete, an active classroom makes perfect sense for her.

Only one year after Bridgeport ISD has implemented its one-to-one technology program, the change is evident in every classroom on every campus. It’s ironic that devices normally known for slowing people down have led to a more active form of learning.

Once you pass through the main entrance at the middle school, a flat-screen television flashes not only daily announcements, but also a stream of video projects students have made on their iPads in class. Doors to the right of the television open into the library.

“This is our 21st-century digital library,” said Mary Howard, campus instructional specialist.

A pair of televisions in the library can link directly to student-issued iPads, allowing student projects to be beamed directly to the screen so several students can better work on digital group projects together.

Nyree Shawn is an instructional coach at the intermediate school. Thursday morning she was overseeing a lab where third graders were simultaneously using both laptops and iPads.

“These kids are already very good with their iPads, but this gives them a chance to get better using the Macbooks,” Shawn said.

Along the walls of the school, more QR codes can be found. Some of them link teachers and students directly to video projects done by students. Others link students with teacher videos describing their favorite books.

And on one wall is a picture of intermediate school assistant principal Jared Laaser with a beard so bushy it could make the cast of “Duck Dynasty” jealous.

Students can use an app on their iPad to scan the image.

“It’s a trigger image,” Shawn said.

After doing so, a video pops up explaining the story behind Laaser’s mountain man look. It’s part of a fundraising campaign called “save it or shave it.” People donate money each week to save the beard or for Laaser to shave the beard. All proceeds are going toward building a cover for an outdoor learning classroom.

Once again, technology is being used to create active, engaged students.

“The iPads on campus have allowed us to take learning even further,” Laaser said.

So far, the “save the beard” side is winning, but Laaser said his wife will do whatever it takes to ensure the “shave it” side wins in the end.

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