Council Previews for Saturday, September 13, 2014

BUDGET, AIRPORT IMPROVEMENTS GET CITY’S FOCUS - The Bridgeport City Council will adopt its 2014-2015 tax rate of $0.5875 per $100 valuation at its meeting Tuesday, 7 p.m. Sept. 16 at 900 Thompson Street. The council will also discuss a uniform rental agreement with G&K Services and consider an agreement with TxDOT’s aviation division for improvements and repairs to the Bridgeport Municipal Airport.

DUGOUTS, AG BARNS ON AGENDA - The Bridgeport ISD will meet 7:30 p.m. Monday night at 2107 15th Street. At the meeting, the board is expected to discuss baseball dugouts, agricultural science barns and electronic message boards for each campus.

CRIME LAB, RESIGNATION ON COMMISSIONERS’ AGENDA – Wise County Commissioners face a lengthy agenda when they meet at 9 a.m. Monday on the third floor of the courthouse in Decatur, among them a request from Sheriff David Walker to acquire a building to be used as a future crime lab, and a “notification letter” received from Election Administrator Lanny Noble “for his resignation.” Other agenda items include bids on property sold in the recent “struck off property” auction, a final plat for Montecito Estates, cleaning out county road right-of-way to improve public safety and a discussion of conditions that might call for renewing the county’s burn ban. The meeting is open to the public.

DECATUR SCHOOL BOARD MEETS MONDAY – Decatur ISD administrators will provide the school board with their district and campus improvement plans at Monday’s meeting. The consent agenda includes the usual monthly items as well as approval of out-of-state travel for the National FFA Convention. The superintendent’s communications include a report on resignations/new hires, principals’ reports, directors’ reports, enrollment report, the high school ag project center and bond election. The meeting will take place at the DISD Administration Building, 307 S. Cates with a closed session at 6 p.m. followed by the open session at 7.

CHICO SCHOOL BOARD MEETS MONDAY – The Chico School Board will consider the Dads for Dragons program at Chico Elementary School at Monday’s meeting. In addition to the routine monthly items, the board will consider the sale of real estate, designation of 4-H activities as extracurricular school events and Extension agents as adjunct staff members, and district goals for the 2014-2015 school year. A work session with WRA Architects will take place following the board meeting in the elementary library. The regular meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in Room 150 of Chico Elementary School, 1120 Park Road.

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Chico School Board approves lower tax rate

The Chico school board Monday approved a 2014-2015 tax rate more than 3 cents below the current rate.

The new rate is $1.22359 per $100 valuation – $1.04 for maintenance and operations and $0.18359 for debt payment. The current year’s rate is $1.2581.

The board also adopted a general fund budget of $7,418,955 for the 2014-2015 school year. While that is $170,170 less than the current year’s amended budget, it still represents a deficit of $130,963.

The budget was built with a conservative estimate of student population growth, an important number that affects the wealth per pupil calculation used to determine how much money the district must send to the state.

“Some of that depends on recapture to the state,” Superintendent Mike Jones said. “It’s all built on student counts. We based our projection on relatively flat student growth. We tried to be conservative.

“If we open with more students than we’ve estimated, we send less money back to the state. We’re cautiously optimistic we can hold that or improve that estimate.”

In other business, the board made official some changes in a couple of policies that affect participation in graduation ceremonies, after agreeing to the changes at last month’s meeting.

Beginning with the class of 2018, the school will not issue a certificate of completion to students who fail to pass all their state exams and all of the required coursework at Chico High School. Those students would also not be able to participate in graduation ceremonies.

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Chico school board set to approve budget, tax rate Monday

The Chico school board will hold a public hearing on its proposed budget and tax rate at Monday’s meeting.

Following the public hearing, the board is expected to approve the items.

A total tax rate of $1.22359 per $100 valuation is proposed, which includes a maintenance and operations tax rate of $1.04 and debt service tax rate of $0.18359. That represents a decrease of just over three cents from last year’s rate.

Other agenda items include approval of the school vendor list, fund balance designations, policy changes, teacher appraisal calendar, designation of teacher appraisers, a student leadership course and a review of campus schedules in addition to routine items.

The meeting, which is open to the public, is at 6:30 p.m. in Room 150 at Chico Elementary School, 1120 Park Road.

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Elementary meal prices increasing 50 percent

Students and staff will be paying more for meals this fall at Chico ISD.

On Thursday, the Chico school board voted to raise meal prices for breakfast and lunch.

The price increase was needed to bring meal costs closer to the rate of reimbursement, Superintendent Mike Jones explained. The National School Lunch program provides free or reduced-price lunches for students who meet certain income eligibility requirements. Schools are reimbursed for the cost of providing these meals to students.

Current reimbursement rates for breakfast is $1.58, and for lunch it is $2.95, Jones said. Last year’s student meal prices at Chico ISD were $1 for breakfast at all campuses, $2 for elementary lunch and $2.75 for middle school and high school lunch.

Jones recommended an all-campus breakfast increase to $1.30 and elementary lunch increase to $2.50.

“We need to go up on our breakfast prices,” Jones said. “I know we normally try to go up incrementally – 10 cents, 15 cents – but we’re so far behind, I’d recommend we go up to $1.30 for all three campuses for breakfast.”

Jones added that he understood that increases in both breakfast and lunch could create a bit of a financial burden for some.

“I’d like to get to $2.50 at the elementary this year, but that’s an 80-cent increase for someone who has an elementary kid who eats breakfast and lunch,” he said. “Some folks can afford it, and some folks it’s going to be a hit in their pocketbook.”

Board members suggested the prices should be set even higher.

“If they stop at the donut shop or the Chico Mart, it’s going to cost more than that,” board President Bill Hand said. ” … I think breakfast ought to be $1.50, and lunch prices ought to be $3.”

By setting those prices above the rate of reimbursement, Jones said it would keep the school district from having to dip into its own funds so much to make up the cost of providing meals. He pointed out that the numbers have been “artificially low” after several years with no price increase.

After a brief discussion, the board voted 5-0 to set student meal prices at $1.50 for breakfast and $3 for lunch at all campuses. Meal prices for staff were set at $2 for breakfast and $3.50 for lunch. Board members Paul Cantrell and Donald Joe Clark were not in attendance.

In other meal-related business, the board approved spending $15,645 for a steamer for the middle school kitchen. The board also made a related $25,000 budget amendment to cover the cost and installation of the steamer and other cafeteria upgrades related to the new meal program beginning this fall. At last month’s meeting, the board approved a contract with Walker Quality Services to provide cafeteria management services for the 2014-2015 school year. The service is expected to provide higher quality meals and more food choices for students.

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Chico School Board to discuss budget, cafeteria items

The start of school is less than a month away, but Chico school board still has some business to take care of before kids and teachers head back to the classroom.

Much of that business will be addressed at a special meeting Thursday.

Several items on the agenda deal with routine, annual issues such as reviewing student, employee and extracurricular handbooks and approving the student code of conduct.

Other items deal with a recently-approved cafeteria management service – changing meal prices and the purchase of a middle school kitchen steamer.

It’s also budget time, and the agenda includes a discussion of the 2014-2015 draft budget, consideration of tax rates and setting a public hearing on the proposed budget and tax rates.

The school board will also consider employee compensation policies and schedules and consider a policy change involving class ranking.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. in Room 150 at Chico Elementary School, 1120 Park Road. It is open to the public.

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Chico School Board considers food service options

Add Chico to the list of area schools that may look at changing their food service.

Monday, Chico Superintendent Mike Jones presented school board members with information on contracting with an outside company to oversee cafeteria operations. Jones said he visited with the Era and Collinsville school districts who have recently taken that route, to see how it was working out.

“I was at Era during a lunch time, and the kids were quiet and chowing down,” he said. “It’s unusual. Usually you’re riding herd on kids. They were full. The parents were giving them great praise. They said their kids weren’t coming home starving.”

Calling it a “win-win,” Jones said the companies could offer healthy, high-quality options that would appeal to students. He said other schools that have brought in an outside company went from running a deficit in their food service operations to breaking even or making a profit.

The school would be able to utilize the company’s resources and experience while still using its own cafeteria workers, he added.

The item was for discussion purposes only at Monday’s meeting, but Jones said he intends to bring it back to the board in June for possible action.

Boyd and Paradise have also recently looked into contracting with an outside company for food service.

In other business, the board:

  • re-elected Bill Hand as board president and Doug Bowyer as secretary and named Paul Cantrell vice president;
  • approved the purchase of a 2015 Chevrolet pickup from James Wood Motors in Decatur;
  • approved a low-attendance waiver request to the Texas Education Agency for two days in December when school was held, but buses did not run due to icy conditions – resulting in about one-third of the students missing those two days; and
  • approved a staff development waiver request for three days used for staff development rather than instruction.

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Chico school board seeks pricing on facility projects

A month after hearing a report that identified facility needs of the school district, Chico ISD school board members Monday began taking a closer look at those areas.

Tony Apel with WRA Architects of Dallas, who gave the report at last month’s meeting, was on hand again to go through the list of high- and medium-priority needs as identified by the facilities review committee. The idea was to have board members identify which of those items needed further study, including price estimates.

Overall, the board asked for pricing estimates on most of the items on the list, which includes:

  • Elementary – cafeteria theatrical lighting and stage curtain, site drainage on the north and south sides, extended parent pick-up lane, numerous security items, covered sidewalks for pick-up and drop-off, occupancy sensors for the classrooms, audio communication to the exterior and more exterior lighting
  • Middle school – replacement of HVAC units, window replacement, roof replacement, numerous security items, locker room light upgrades, better parking lot lighting, site drainage on south side, sidewalks and audio communication to exterior
  • High school – new ag barn facility, numerous security items, softball field resurfacing, more exterior lighting, additional front parking area and new concessions and restroom at the baseball/softball facility
  • District – security cameras at sporting areas, paving parking lot at football field and water capture for irrigation at football field

Apel said he would work on preliminary pricing and planning and report back to the board. None of the projects have been approved yet.

In other business from Monday’s special meeting, the board approved a resolution to pay employees for missed instructional days due to bad weather and approved a shared services arrangement with Bluebonnet Co-op for students with visual impairments.

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Chico school board doesn’t extend Jones’ contract; Committee report identifies facility needs

Mike Jones is still superintendent at Chico ISD. But the majority of school trustees made it clear Monday that they have issues with his leadership.

What those issues are, they didn’t say publicly.

The school board met in closed session for an hour at the end of their regular meeting for the annual superintendent evaluation. When they returned to open session, Paul Cantrell made a motion to extend Jones’ contract another year, and the motion was seconded by Mark Tate.

They were the only two to vote for the extension, as Bill Hand, Doug Bowyer, G.A. Buckner, Donald Joe Clark and Pancho Redwine voted against it.

There were no other comments about Jones’ performance, and the meeting adjourned immediately after the vote.

Following the meeting, board president Hand declined to comment on the vote.

Jones’ contract, which is now two years rather than three, runs through the 2015-2016 school year. The district traditionally waits until summer budget discussions to take any possible action on salary adjustments.

FACILITIES UPDATE

The school board also heard an update from the facilities review committee, which has identified areas of need for the district.

Tony Apel with WRA Architects of Dallas explained that members of the committee, as well as architects, had looked at all of the district’s facilities and had scored each one on factors such as educational adequacy, safety and health, accessibility, efficiency, flexibility and appearance.

Committee members also looked at specific features of each campus and judged each on a needs/priority rating of high, medium or low.

“We found that a lot of the items that dealt with security, student safety – those types of things were ranked very high among all the committee members,” Apel said.

Specific measures identified as high priority included security cameras at the high school; classroom doors that lock from the inside, an emergency door lockdown and electronic card access for exterior doors at the middle school and high school; perimeter fencing of interior areas districtwide; and security cameras at sporting areas.

Other high priority needs by campus included the following:

Elementary school – none

Middle school – Replace HVAC units, replace all windows, repair leaking windows, replace roof/repair roof leaks and hot meal service from middle school kitchen

High school – update/relocate ag barn facility, occupancy sensors for classroom lighting

District – limit pedestrian access to bus area south of the middle school

The presentation also included a list of “medium” priority items for each campus and the district.

Apel said looking at 10 years of enrollment, growth was fairly flat, so student growth was not a major consideration in terms of facility needs at this time.

The next step in the process is for the board to review the report and come up with their own list of high priority items. That will be the topic of discussion at a workshop next month. Once the high priority areas are identified, architects can begin making plans and creating cost estimates.

In other business the board:

  • accepted a bid of $37,200 from Burtnett Air Conditioning and Heating of Springtown to replace two rooftop HVAC units at the middle school. The motion passed by a 4-3 vote with Hand, Buckner and Clark voting against it.
  • agreed to accept bids for lawnmowers and school vehicles.
  • accepted a $20,000 donation from Noel and LeeAnn Ruddick for the Ryan Ruddick Memorial Scholarship fund.
  • recognized students for honors earned during the fall semester.

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Facilities review, superintendent contract on Chico School Board agenda

The Chico School Board Monday will hear a report on the needs in the school district.

The report will be in the form of an update from the Facilities Review Committee. The group has been working to identify program needs, possible renovations or additions to facilities, functional needs or deficiencies, security or safety concerns and possible deferred maintenance projects for capital improvements.

Tony Apel with WRA Architects of Dallas will present the progress update, including a needs/priority list by school that the committee has put together.

The board will also perform the annual review of Superintendent Mike Jones and possibly take action on his contract.

In other business, the board will consider advertising for proposals for new HVAC rooftop units at the middle school gym, riding lawnmowers and school vehicles; accept a donation from Noel and LeeAnn Ruddick for the Ryan Ruddick Memorial Scholarship Fund; recognize students for honors and activities from the fall semester; and hear monthly principal reports.

The meeting is 6:30 p.m. in the Chico Elementary School Cafetorium located at 1120 Park Rd.

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Board’s full plate includes food item

The Chico school board faces a full agenda for its Monday meeting.

Agenda items include approving campus attendance committees, voting for Wise County Appraisal District board of directors, approving district and campus improvement plans, a Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) policy update, the district technology plan and the middle school cafeteria food service.

They will also review bids for lawn mowing service and consider hiring a half-time teacher position. The agenda also includes the regular district and campus principal reports, including a facilities review committee update.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, in Room 150 at Chico Elementary School, 1120 Park Road. It is open to the public.

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