Paradise ISD adopts deficit budget

Following a Monday night public hearing, the Paradise school board adopted a budget for the 2014-15 school year that shows a deficit.

Under the proposed spending plan, the district will bring in $11,631,211 and spend $11,845,134 – expenditures exceeding revenue by $213,923. That amount will come from the district fund balance, which acts as a savings account, according to Interim Superintendent Bob Criswell.

The board also adopted $1.34 per $100 in property value as next year’s tax rate – $1.04 for maintenance and operations and 30 cents for debt service. That means a homeowner with a home assessed at $100,000 would owe $1,340 in property taxes.

BUS LEASE APPROVED

Criswell was given the authority to lease a new bus that can transport handicapped children, to replace the current bus. He said the district has to transport at least three wheelchair-bound children.

“That old bus didn’t want to start this morning,” he said. “We got it going, but to say the least it’s on its last legs.”

To purchase a new bus, the school would have to spend about $95,000 – money it does not have. Criswell plans to lease a bus, with the lease amount going toward the purchase price so that by the end of the lease, the school district will own it. He said it does cost more, but the district wouldn’t have to pay the whole amount at once.

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School resource officer contract renewed

The Paradise ISD board of trustees renewed its contract with Wise County for a sheriff’s deputy to be the district’s school resource officer.

Monday night, the district agreed to pay $15,500 for the officer’s service, which only covers time during the school day. Special events and game nights are billed as overtime.

PISD will hold an election for board places 3, 4 and 5 this fall.

The filing period for candidates starts July 19 and ends Aug. 18. The election is Nov. 4.

The board also agreed to hire the accounting firm of Hankins, Eastup, Deaton, Tonn and Seay to conduct the district’s annual audit. The firm will look at PISD’s major funds, activities and financial statements, costing the district $16,500.

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Paradise ISD’s values see little change

The Wise County Appraisal District has released Paradise ISD’s preliminary 2014 property values – and not much has changed.

Consequently, the district expects no major changes in property tax revenue for next year.

PISD is looking at total taxable values of $392,236,311 for next year, compared to $388,517,443 last year. The numbers came from Chief Appraiser Mickey Hand to the board of trustees, which held its first of several budget workshops Monday night.

Property values are a key piece of information in the budget planning process.

Breaking the preliminary data down shows real property values, industrial/utility values and mineral values are all up, but personal property values are down nearly 50 percent compared to 2013 numbers, negating most of the increases in other areas.

Also on the agenda:

  • The board approved the district emergency operation plan.
  • Breakfast and lunch prices for 2014-2015 will remain the same as the previous year.
  • The board offered reasonable assurance of employment for auxiliary and para-professional employees.
  • Trustees Doug Bryant and Homer Mundy will hand out diplomas to Paradise ISD seniors during the 2014 graduation ceremony.

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Paradise board begins budget workshops

The Paradise ISD Board of Trustees will start the budget planning season with a workshop 6:30 p.m. Monday during its regular meeting.

The workshop will be led by former Superintendent Robert Criswell and is slated to review preliminary appraisal district values, discuss preliminary district revenue and the district’s budgeting priorities.

Also on the agenda:

  • Wise County appraisal district resolution for resell;
  • emergency operation plan;
  • breakfast and lunch prices for 2014-2015;
  • offer reasonable assurance of employment for auxiliary and para-professional employees;
  • graduation ceremony.

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Criswell named interim Paradise superintendent

Former Paradise ISD Superintendent Robert Criswell has been tapped to take over as interim superintendent following Monty Chapman’s departure.

Robert Criswell

Chapman’s contract runs out June 30, and Criswell will take over again July 1.

Board of trustees President Homer Mundy said Criswell will likely be the interim superintendent for six months or a year, until a candidate is selected to take over permanently. He will also lead the search for Chapman’s permanent replacement.

“We’ll let him look inside the district and outside the district. He’s more experienced and knows a lot more people,” Mundy said. “He knows the district very well and I feel it was a very good thing to do.”

Criswell was PISD’s leader for a decade, from 1999 to 2009, when he retired and Chapman took over. Chapman was Criswell’s assistant superintendent at the time. Until July 1, Criswell is acting as a consultant.

“I’m excited about being back,” he said. “I told the board I still bleed green and this is my district. I love it.”

Criswell comes in as budget season gets underway. Munday said the board faces challenges in figuring out funding solutions for fixing an ailing roof and buying buses.

Criswell said he is looking forward to being a part of the process again, comparing it to a bicycle he’s getting to ride again. That said, he still likes retirement and plans to make it permanent.

“Retirement is good. I recommend it for everybody,” Criswell said. “It’s still hard for me to get up and go to a job when I’ve been going to a golf course and to the deer lease.”

Criswell was integral to the process of building up the district’s campus to what it is now.

“It’s changed and it’s a good thing,” Criswell said. “We have a great thing going here.”

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Paradise ISD extends teacher contracts

The Paradise school board opted to extend the contracts for all teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses during Monday night’s meeting.

The contracts were extended for one year and will be up for review again in spring 2015. The board also agreed to use Superintendent Monty Chapman as an independent contractor after his current contract ends in June.

Chapman recently resigned to take a job at Weatherford Independent School District, but has agreed to help the board and the next superintendent with next year’s budget, which will include planning for other big-ticket items like a wastewater treatment facility.

Non-contracted employees will see a pay raise. The board approved a 2.5 percent raise from the midpoint, which would mean a larger raise for employees on the lower end of the pay scale and a smaller raise for those on the high end.

In other business, the board:

  • adopted textbooks recommended by Patti Seckman; and
  • agreed to seek a waiver from the Texas Education Agency for an additional bad weather day due to all the ice last winter.

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Staging a classic: Story adapted by PHS troupe plays well at UIL contest

Staging a classic: Story adapted by PHS troupe plays well at UIL contest

Required reading and a close inventory of talent sent the One-Act Play team at Paradise High School on a different kind of adventure this school year.

“We graduated tremendous talent last year, a lot of our male actors,” said Karen Bohmfalk, PHS drama teacher and One-Act Play director. “We knew we wanted a play with powerful women’s roles, but in just about everything we came across, the story made the woman the victim. So we chose our own path.”

Community Play

COMMUNITY PLAY – Paradise High School will perform the One-Act Play “The Hiding Place,” written by two of its students and its director, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, and 5 p.m. Sunday, April 27, at the PHS cafeteria. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Bohmfalk, along with seniors Cimmiaron Alvarez and Katy Skogberg, wrote an adaptation of “The Hiding Place,” a book PHS sophomores read for their English class.

And despite the challenges the three faced in doing something not many schools do, their efforts advanced the school’s One-Act Play team to area competition, garnering a slew of honors along the way.

THE STORY

What started as a group of students meeting during the summer eventually dwindled to just Bohmfalk, Alvarez and Skogberg.

From July until mid-October, the playwrights gathered before and after school for up to three hours, three or four times a week to comb through every word of the book.

Honored Cast

HONORED CAST – At One-Act Play district competition March 19, judges named (back from left) Janae McMurry to the All Star Crew; Daniel Alexander, best actor; Katy Skogberg, best actress; Hope Dennie, All-Star cast; (front) Julianna Smith, Honorable Mention All-Star cast; and Cimmiaron Alvarez, All-Star Crew. At area competition April 8, Dennie and Skogberg made the All-Star Cast, and Alexander and Smith received Honorable Mention. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“We just started picking the parts that impacted us the most as we read it and then filed it down into an actual script,” Skogberg said. “That was the process. We went from the beginning of the book to the end.”

Set in Holland and Germany before and during World War II, the story is about the ten Boom family – father Casper and his unmarried daughters, Corrie and Betsie.

During the invasion of Holland, the Christian family holds steadfastly to their beliefs, helping the Jews hide from the Germans.

“They start taking the Jews in, and, of course, they develop the hiding place to protect them,” Skogberg said.

The German soldiers discover their operation and take the family to a prison – and later, a concentration camp.

“Father and Betsie both die in the process, and Corrie is the only one that makes it out,” Skogberg said. “So she’s the one that carries the message to the rest of the world.”

With this adaptation of the book, Paradise students aid in the spreading of the message, which students describe as “powerful.”

“We wanted something that was going to impact on a great scale, not just for One-Act Play, but beyond that,” Skogberg said. “This message and this story was something that a lot of the students could relate to because they read it in class, and is something they can take with them.

“That was the biggest thing – being able to do a story that left people with something.”

CHALLENGES

But that same ambition may have been the writers’ biggest challenge.

“We knew this story has subject matter that isn’t very popular these days and that we might land on some judge who found its message was trite,” Bohmfalk said. “We didn’t know how judges would take it … Some people just shut down or aren’t involved if it’s spiritual.”

“The message of the Holocaust, too,” Skogberg added. “There are a lot of people who still don’t like that either. But I think it was a risk worth taking.”

That subject matter is key to the story.

“That was the center of the show for the two women,” Bohmfalk said. “You really can’t write the show without it.”

“Their spirituality is what kept them from becoming hard, like a majority of other people did during the concentration camps,” Alvarez added. “They stayed true to themselves and true to their faith. That’s why it was so powerful.”

As a compromise, the writers made a concerted effort to limit the number of Bible verses included.

“That was a difficult part in writing, to make sure we didn’t put a million Bible verses in there,” Skogberg said. “We didn’t want it to be a sermon. We used the title verse and two others. But mostly in action instead of words, we wanted to create the story.”

As they crafted that story, the writers ran into other roadblocks. Although they preserved as much of the book as possible, modifications were made for the sake of time.

“We tried to take as much original dialogue as possible,” said Alvarez, who is also the OAP stage manager. “That wasn’t possible in all cases, so we had to create some of our own.”

The writers also merged characters and eliminated subplots to speed along the main story line.

“But we never change the message,” Bohmfalk said. “We change who said what and where they were when that happened.”

“Overall we get the message across,” Skogberg added. “We get mad at some movies whenever they change from the book, and then we started writing and realized why they do it. I have a whole new respect for that.”

The three also agreed it was a challenge to stay on track while writing.

“I wanted to follow the pattern, the mono-myth of the hero journey to an extent,” Bohmfalk said.

But it wasn’t until the writers overcame the obstacles and completed the script that they faced the ultimate challenge.

“What if it was bad? What if nobody likes it?” Bohmfalk said they wondered.

“All of the other plays have been performed before, so you know they have to be good somehow,” Skogberg said. “We didn’t know if this would appeal to anyone at all.”

But the ladies soon found out that it did.

AFFIRMATION

As a matter of fact, it appealed to many – from officials with the UIL to the students who auditioned and the judges at competition.

After finishing the script, Bohmfalk spent more than a month polishing it before submitting it to the UIL for approval in late November.

“It took a long time to polish the stage directions and all that tedious work,” Bohmfalk said. “It was rough. We didn’t have any stage directions other than what we conceived ourselves. There wasn’t anything in a book. We had to create all the movement.”

With a go-ahead from the UIL, the director continued with casting in December.

“If nobody likes the story, they don’t come audition,” Bohmfalk said. “Fortunately, we did have kids come audition.”

After months of rehearsal, the cast and crew took their 40-minute production to contest, where they received their most telling affirmation yet.

At district competition March 19 in Graham, the Paradise show was one of two that advanced to area.

Judges also picked Skogberg as best actress and Daniel Alexander as best actor. Hope Dennie was named to the All-Star Cast while Alvarez and Janae McMurry were named to the All-Star Crew.

Juliana Smith received Honorable Mention All-Star Cast.

“It was good to get affirmation, to know that we’re not crazy,” Skogberg laughed.

At area competition last week, the play was named an alternate to regionals.

Skogberg and Dennie were named to the All-Star Cast while Alexander and Smith received honorable mention.

“It’s ended up nothing like we expected but everything that we wanted, which is really cool looking back now from the time we wrote,” Skogberg said. “Originally we had in mind a play that was focused on just the hero story, just that one character. In the process of all the cast members coming in and all the ideas that we’ve thrown out, we’ve really developed not just one person’s story, but a lot of people’s stories in the background.

“It’s developed into something that’s hit home for lots of different people,” she continued. “It doesn’t just fit to one specific person in the audience. We’ve morphed it into something that a lot of people can relate to. There are several key messages that really resonate with people. There are lines that go through my head when I’m not on stage and when I’m not thinking about One-Act Play.

“It’s not what any of us expected, but we like it. And we’re proud of it.”

CATCH THE SHOW

  • Paradise One-Act Play will stage its adaptation of “The Hiding Place” in two community performances this month:
  • 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 22, at Paradise High School cafeteria, sponsored by the Paradise Historical Society and Paradise Chamber of Commerce.
  • 5 p.m. Sunday, April 27, also at the PHS cafeteria.
  • Both shows are free.

CAST AND CREW

  • “The Hiding Place”
  • adapted from the book “The Hiding Place”
  • By Corrie ten Boom
  • With John and Elizabeth Sherrill
  • Play by Cimmiaron Alvarez, Katy Skogberg and Karen Bohmfalk

Cast – Daniel Alexander, Hope Dennie, Katy Skogberg, Lainee Hasty, Drake Young, Austin Medlin, Andrew Alexander, Faith Blankenship, Garrett Schneck, Devan McAsey-Perez, Alyssa McCutchen, Austin Ketchum, Michael Hasty, Julianna Smith, Kaitlynn Godwin

Crew – Cimmiaron Alvarez, Kyndal Baker, Heather McDuff, Janae McMurry, Jennifer Welch

Alternates – Cheyeanne Alvarez, Jamie Talley

Directors – Karen Bohmfalk, Georgia Headley, Megayla O’Rear

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Trustees consider teacher contracts

The Paradise ISD board of trustees will look over and possibly approve teacher contracts during its regular meeting Monday, April 21.

Contracts slated for review also include librarians and nurses.

The board will consider possible pay increases and changes to pay grades for non-contract district employees, according to the meeting agenda posted Friday afternoon.

The board also plans to discuss applying to TEA to get an additional bad weather day waived that was left out of the original application.

Other agenda items include budget amendments, textbook adoption and a health education notice related to State Senate Bill 283.

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Chapman to leave Paradise ISD job

Paradise ISD is looking for new leadership as Superintendent Monty Chapman resigned Monday night during a special meeting.

Chapman’s last day with Paradise will be June 30. He has accepted a position with Weatherford ISD as the executive director of human resources.

Chapman has been with PISD 20 years, five of those as superintendent. He was assistant superintendent for six years under Robert Criswell and high school principal nine years before that.

Chapman let PISD staff know about his resignation soon after the Monday meeting ended.

In his resignation letter, Chapman wrote that working in Paradise had been an honor and would always hold a special place in is heart. He said the employees would always be his family.

WISD offered Chapman the job last Monday and made it official via vote Thursday night during the regular Weatherford board of trustees meeting. Chapman said it will be quite a change from running PISD.

“WISD has about 930 employees,” he said. “It will be a big job with a lot of responsibilities. I’ll have a staff with me dealing with benefits, payroll, hiring and working on contracts.”

Chapman said he and his wife are close enough to Weatherford for him to commute for now but will weigh their options on whether or not to move closer to his new job.

“It’s hard thinking about making a transition after being in one place for 20 years,” Chapman said. “I like to stay in one place and build and see the progress you make over the years.”

Chapman recognized the big job that lies ahead for the next superintendent. He said he believes PISD will be in good shape budget-wise but faces challenges with the school’s aging wastewater treatment facility and other larger expenditures – like buying buses and making some building repairs.

“I’ve looked at the budget for next year, and there is definitely a way to balance it,” Chapman said. “We’ll have to be pretty conservative and figure out some concerns with capital expenses.”

His replacement might have a steep learning curve in certain areas as few school districts have their own wastewater treatment facilities.

“Most districts don’t have to provide that,” Chapman said. “There are a few in the area, like Peaster and Brock, who do.”

Chapman has offered to continue consulting with the board, and his replacement, moving forward with PISD’s budget concerns, if needed.

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Paradise ISD board raises teachers’ pay

Many Paradise ISD teachers and several administrators can look forward to pay raises next year.

The school board accepted recommendations from the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) to increase many of the district’s pay grades to make salaries more competitive with those throughout the area.

TASB representative Matthew Levitt advised the board in February to raise pay grades to 95 percent of the market average. This will affect newer teachers most, but teachers with 13 years’ experience and less will also see an increase. Several administrators’ pay will also be raised in accordance with TASB recommendations.

Currently, first-year teachers’ salaries in Paradise are about 13 percent below market average, while fifth-year teachers’ salaries are 9 percent lower. With the increase, a first-year teacher will now start with $36,000, and fifth-year teachers will earn $38,671 annually, according to PISD Superintendent Monty Chapman.

SUPERINTENDENT CONTRACT

PISD is the only district in the county to still have its superintendent’s contract up in the air.

School board President Homer Mundy said the board has decided to put off a decision on Chapman’s contract until April in order to give newly-elected members Ben Sanders and Ronnie Pewitt time to get to know the superintendent and see how he operates.

“It was December before we seated the new board members, and they weren’t ready and we weren’t ready to vote on his contract,” Mundy said. “It was different when we had elections in May – they had time to work with [the superintendent].”

The board also:

  • unanimously agreed to compensate PISD workers for another missed instructional day due to inclement weather. During the prior meeting in February, they agreed to pay district employees for four other bad weather days.
  • approved administrator contracts.
  • approved a new Internet provider contract with CenturyLink, saving the district money and doubling its bandwidth.
  • approved textbooks and the 2014-15 calendar.

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District to pay for 4 off days

The Paradise school board unanimously agreed Monday night to compensate PISD workers for four of the six instructional days the district was closed due to snow, ice and cold temperatures.

Wintry weather caused most schools in the area to miss more instruction days than is typical. Paradise will absorb two of the six missed days with some rescheduling. In April, the district will apply to have the other four missed instructional days waived.

Superintendent Monty Chapman proposed the resolution to pay the employees for the missed days, citing in the resolution that it is in the public’s best interest to compensate people. The resolution said the district would also benefit by boosting morale and reducing employee turnover.

PAY GRADE CHANGES

Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) human resources consultant Matthew Levitt met with the board prior to the regular meeting to discuss teacher pay grade recommendations.

During the regular meeting, the board opted to table any decision on changing pay grades until the March 24 meeting.

According to Levitt, PISD’s teachers and administration pay is below market and needs to be raised to remain competitive and attract good teacher applicants.

Levitt’s report compared PISD to other schools in this market – but not the Metroplex, where teacher and administration salaries are far higher.

A beginning teacher’s salary in Paradise is about 13 percent lower than the market average. Five-year and 10-year teachers’ salaries are 9 percent and 8 percent lower. Chapman said current PISD teachers’ top-end salaries are at $55,650.

If the board were to raise pay grades in line with TASB recommendations, beginning teachers would see the largest bump, going from 87 percent to 93 percent of the average market.

Trustees voiced concern about beginning teachers’ salaries, saying PISD has several teachers approaching retirement age and might be hiring for several positions in the near future.

The district has gone several years without seeing major turnover. In the past 15 years, the most teachers hired in Paradise was in the 1999-2000 school year, when the board approved 34 contracts. The next-highest was in 2004-2005 when 27 new contracts were approved.

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Sanders defeats Mundy in board race

The empty spot on the Paradise school board has finally been filled.

ON THE BOARD – Ben Sanders recently defeated Bill Mundy for Place 6 on the Paradise Board of Trustees. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Voters chose Ben Sanders for Place 6 in a second election held Tuesday after the first election Nov. 5 ended in a tie.

In last week’s election, Sanders garnered a total 120 votes to Bill Mundy’s 34. Of those 120, 50 came via early voting. Nearly half of Mundy’s were early votes as well.

While he clinched the second election soundly, it was a pivotal mail-in ballot that gave Sanders a second chance by tying the first race. Without that, Mundy would have won by a single vote.

Wise County Elections Administrator Lanny Noble said it was the first election-day tie he has seen during his tenure in Wise County.

“On election night there was the one vote and it was timely,” Noble said.

With 154 ballots cast, the turnout for the second election was higher than many had expected.

“I was somewhat surprised because of the weather,” Noble said. “It was bad and they still came out. It is good they care enough to voice their opinion.”

Sanders, 39, of Cottondale, works in the oilfield maintaining natural gas pipelines. He has two sons, ages 15 and 5, attending PISD.

“My family is excited,” Sanders said. “I’ve had a bunch of people tell me I’m crazy and that I’m jumping into a hornet’s nest, but I don’t feel that way.”

Sanders described himself as easygoing, a good listener with strong opinions and backbone. He said he is not scared by a challenge and noted that joining the school board was on his “bucket list” of things he wanted to do.

“I have things and goals that I need to accomplish,” he said. “I don’t like to just talk. I like to be a part of whatever I can. I’ve coached and refereed and everything else for 15 years and now I’m on the school board.”

Sanders said he hasn’t been fully briefed on all the issues facing PISD, including an ailing wastewater facility, leaking roof, and little money to throw at the problems. However, he plans on digging in with the rest of the board to find solutions.

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Early voting closes in second election

A few dozen voters have cast ballots this week during early voting in Paradise ISD’s second election.

Those going to the polls will break a tie between Ben Sanders and Bill Mundy for Place 6 on the school board.

Election clerk Cindy Staley said 63 voters had cast a ballot as of 4 p.m. Thursday. Despite a winter storm, early voting continued Friday.

Election day is Tuesday, Dec. 10, at the Paradise superintendent’s office, and voters in PISD can cast ballots 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The results of the second election will be canvassed Thursday, Dec. 19.

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District relies on temporary fixes

Paradise ISD has a long to-do list. Major dollar signs are attached to each item, and some of them can’t wait long.

It has been two weeks since PISD’s $3.25 million bond proposal and 8-cent tax increase failed in the Nov. 5 election. The school board is grappling with costly problems and the added problem of no new revenue to pay for them.

The most pressing so far is the district’s ailing wastewater treatment facility. Superintendent Monte Chapman said major upgrades are needed by December 2016. It seems problems are arising sooner rather than later.

During the school board’s regular meeting Monday night, engineer Glenn Breisch with Wasterline Engineering said massive wastewater flow spikes are overrunning the system and flushing chemicals as well as bacteria cultures into the outflow.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) tests wastewater facilities to make sure they are in compliance with regulations. Paradise’s recent flow issues have put the district out of compliance and in danger of incurring hefty fines and penalties.

This means long before the system can be upgraded or replaced, the district has to put in a stopgap measure to at least temporarily fix the wastewater facility’s issues.

“[The wastewater treatment facility] is getting into a state of disrepair,” Breisch said.

To get the district back into compliance with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, at least temporarily, Breisch has suggested adding an equalization basin.

What the basin would do is allow wastewater to flow in at inconsistent volumes and flow out at a constant rate that the facility can treat efficiently.

Breisch said this tank could be reused as part of the new upgraded system planned for construction in the near future. He said this would keep the district from throwing money down the drain.

This solution isn’t cheap, and it could take a year to implement after planning, bidding and construction. Breisch said the addition could cost around $100,000.

Another option is to bring in a frack tank that could cost more than $14,000 over the course of a year but would not be PISD property and not be reusable in the future facility construction.

The board took action to start the planning process that leads to looking for bids.

Eventually replacing the entire facility could cost about $1 million.

ROOF REPAIR

Another immediate problem is directly over the heads of Paradise Intermediate School students – the school’s leaky roof.

Major repairs or replacement are needed to stop leaks and keep students’ health safe.

Replacing the 13,000 square-foot roof could cost between $49,000 and $75,000. Installing a sloped metal roof would cost about $100,000, Chapman told the board.

He brought insurance adjusters to inspect the roof for possible damage that could have stemmed from a previous hailstorm. If the roof had been damaged by hail, some of the costs associated with repair could be offset with insurance money.

Chapman said adjusters have so far not discovered any hail damage.

He said the district would have the leaks temporarily patched, while the board goes through the budgeting process to find a long-term solution.

OTHER NEWS

In dealing with the rest of its agenda Monday, the board also:

  • approved new bonuses of $500 for all full-time staff except the Superintendent, and $250 for all part-time staff.
  • noted that PISD campuses will be closed Nov. 25 to Nov. 29. On Dec. 20, there will be an early release for students, and school will be closed Dec. 23 to Jan. 6, 2014.
  • accepted as part of a shared service agreement $78,014 reimbursement through School Health and Related Services for services covered by Medicaid rendered Oct. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2011.

The money will go directly into the district’s fund balance. Chapman said the district had been expecting some reimbursement but much less than $78,000.

SHARS is a Medicaid financing program and is a joint program of the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). It allows school districts to get Medicaid reimbursement for certain health-related services provided to students in special education.

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Board sets new election dates

The Paradise ISD school board Monday night set dates and times for voting in the upcoming second election – to decide between Ben Sanders and Bill Mundy, who tied for Place 6 in the Nov. 5 election.

Voters in PISD can vote early 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dec. 2-6 at the superintendent’s office. Election day voting is 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 10, at the same location.

Superintendent Monte Chapman said in the event of another tie, the two candidates will draw lots to determine a winner.

The board selected Wally Shackleford as the election judge and Cindy Staley, James Grisham and Janice Clark as election clerks.

The unanimous decision to hold the second election came after the board canvassed the Nov. 5 results and confirmed their accuracy.

Prior to the Monday night meeting, board president Homer Mundy met with Wise County Elections Administrator Lannie Noble to hold an official recount required by PISD policy.

All votes, aside from mailed ballots, are cast electronically. The votes were recounted by machine, and the Nov. 5 result was upheld.

Ronnie Pewitt, who emerged a clear winner in his race against incumbent Lonnie Holder, was offically sworn into Place 7 Monday night.

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City, school district continue sewer talk

In the wake of voters’ rejection of a school bond that would have allowed Paradise ISD to update its wastewater plant, Paradise city officials will continue talking with school district officials on what to do about wastewater.

At its meeting Monday, the council will outline a proposed contract with the school district to provide wastewater treatment services to district buildings and facilities.

As one step in that direction, the council will consider approving access easement agreements for PISD water lines.

Council members will also hear an update on an agreement with the school district regarding the collection of sewer fees.

Halfway through the agenda, the council is scheduled to meet in closed session with its attorney.

During the open portion of the meeting, the council will also:

  • select a firm to conduct the city’s annual audit and another to inspect the water tower;
  • discuss fees for animal control services, mobile food vendor permits and water-tap installation;
  • hear from the Paradise Historical Society regarding a historical marker;
  • review the EDC’s budget;
  • consider purchasing a lighted sign for the school zone; and
  • permit the EDC to paint fire hydrants.

The meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, is open to the public.

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Pewitt gets one board seat, other remains empty

After 10 years of volunteering his time with the Paradise Athletic Booster Club, Ronnie Pewitt threw his hat in the ring for school board – and won.

NEWLY ELECTED – Ronnie Pewitt will be sworn in as Paradise ISD’s newest board member. He takes over Place 7 after defeating Lonnie Holder in the Nov. 5 election. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Pewitt defeated Place 7 incumbent Lonnie Holder 248 votes to 145 and will be sworn into office 6:30 p.m. Monday during PISD’s regular board meeting.

“I’ve always wanted to be on the school board,” Pewitt said. “My wife has been the school nurse for 13 years, and both my boys go here.”

The Pewitts lived in Bridgeport until last year but decided to move after a shift in Pewitt’s job.

He is the safety man for Kyle and Erwin Construction, an oilfield construction company with offices in Rhome and Snyder. Before that, Pewitt spent 24 years at a fuel company, where he worked his way up from sweeping the floors to upper management.

The experience of making crucial decisions, along with being involved in hiring and dismissal processes, will prove valuable as a board member, Pewitt hopes.

“There’s a lot I won’t know or understand at first, being the new guy,” Pewitt said.

He is required to attend training courses, including a three-hour session in December in Fort Worth.

Pewitt’s family isn’t unfamiliar with school boards. His grandfather, Bud Collier, was a trustee for Chico ISD during the 1960s.

“He really seemed to enjoy it. He talked about it a lot,” Pewitt said.

PLACE 6 STILL UP FOR GRABS

The superintendent’s office confirmed Friday that PISD will have a second election to decide the winner of Place 6 on the board. The spot will go to either Ben Sanders or Bill Mundy.

After provisional ballots were counted this week, Sanders and Mundy were tied. Up to that point, Mundy had led Sanders by a single vote based on early and regular ballots.

Superintendent Monty Chapman said the district’s policy is to hold a second election in the case of a tie. State code allows the candidates to choose between a second election and a variety of other methods, such as drawing lots, to determine a winner.

Wise County Elections Administrator Lannie Noble said the district would have to rent the county’s equipment and create a new ballot. This will cost PISD about $1,000 if it chooses to use its own staff and volunteers and not hire county workers to run the election.

WASTEWATER CONCERNS

Chapman said the board also needs to discuss an immediate temporary solution to quality control issues that have cropped up recently at the district’s wastewater treatment facility.

In the course of regular testing, chlorine level spikes have been discovered, which puts the facility out of compliance with state regulations. Chapman said the district would need to come up with a solution quickly to get back into compliance.

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