Paradise ISD board remains the same

The Paradise ISD school board canvassed votes Monday from the Nov. election and confirmed all incumbents retained their places.

The election for Place 3 was the closest race in the county with Kevin Howerton edging Vann Wakefield by only a handful of votes.

Carrie Preather defeated Jim Taylor for Place 4, and Rusty Ford was unopposed for Place 5.

The board opted to not change place arrangement. They will meet next on Dec. 15.

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Paradise ISD sets canvassing date

The Paradise school board will canvass this year’s election results Nov. 17.

The board has two at-large places on the Nov. 4 ballot. Place 3 is held by Kevin Howerton, who is challenged by Vann Wakefield, while Place 4 is held by Carrie Preather, who drew opposition from Jim Taylor.

Early voting for the Paradise school board election started Monday and is 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Oct. 24, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 27-31 at three locations:

  • Decatur City Hall, 201 E. Walnut St.
  • Rhome City Hall, 105 1st.
  • Bridgeport Law Enforcement Center, 1000 Thompson St., Bridgeport

Early voting will also be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 25, and noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 26, at Decatur City Hall only.

On Election Day, the polls will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the following Paradise-area locations:

  • Precinct 22 – AgriLife Extension Building, 206 S. State, Decatur
  • Precinct 8 – Assumption Catholic Church 1305 S. Deer Park, Decatur
  • Precinct 14 – Bridgeport Lions Hall, 1107 6th St., Bridgeport
  • Precinct 16 – Boonsville Community Center, West on Hwy 920, Boonsville
  • Precinct 17 – First United Methodist Church, Activity Center, 301 S. Oak, Paradise
  • Precinct 20 – Cottondale Comunity Center, 161 CR 3571, Cottondale
  • Precinct 23 – Boyd Community Center, 420 E Morton Ave., Boyd.

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Meeting Previews for Saturday, October 18, 2014

BOYD

BOYD ISD – The Boyd School Board meets 6:30 p.m. Monday and plans to discuss approving a Boyd High School field trip to the FFA National Convention in Louisville Kentucky as well as construction plans for a show animal project facility. The board will also consider softball field renovations.

BRIDGEPORT

LICENSING LIQUOR – The Bridgeport City Council will discuss adding alcohol beverage licenses and fees to the city’s code of ordinances at its meeting Tuesday night. It will also discuss fiscal year 2013-14 budget adjustments; award a city landscaping bid to either All Wise Garden Butch Haas, or Cut and Grow; and consider a proposal for a real estate broker to sell Rutherford Ranch. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 900 Thompson St. and is open to the public.

SOCCER, ANYONE? – The Bridgeport School Board will discuss adding a soccer program to the high school at its meeting Monday night. The board will also hear reports on the dual-language program and the district’s Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) score. It will also continue earlier discussions about possible facility renovations. These include Bull Memorial Stadium and baseball dugout renovations, as well as the building of an agriculture science barn. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at 2107 15th St. and is open to the public.

PARADISE

PARADISE COUNCIL – The Paradise City Council meets 6 p.m. Monday to discuss street closures for the Jingle Run and a church-sponsored autumn event. The council will also decide whether or not to purchase a building and discuss road repair and the Wise County Appraisal District’s contract for billing and collection services.

PISD MEETING – The Paradise School Board will meet 6:30 p.m. Monday and plans to set a date to canvass the Nov. 4 election results and for the employee appreciation dinner. The board will also consider the district’s contract with Wise County Appraisal District for collections.

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Meet PISD’s school board candidates

Three spots on the Paradise ISD school board will go before the voters Nov. 4. The at-large seats are 3, 4, and 5.

Rusty Ford is unopposed for place 5, but places 3 and 4 are up for grabs.

Incumbent Kevin Howerton is challenged by Vann Wakefield for place 3, and Jim Taylor faces off against place 4 incumbent Carrie Preather.

Short biographies of the candidates, and their responses to questions concerning the challenges facing Paradise ISD’s school board, follow.

PLACE 3

Kevin Howerton (incumbent)

Age: 51

Howerton has lived in Wise County for 51 years, the last 10 in Paradise, where he currently resides.

Howerton has been married for 25 years to his wife Celina. They have three daughters: Ally, 21, Rylee, 18 and Kaycie, 16.

His wife taught at PISD for 15 years, and he has many friends who teach in the district. He said he wants to serve to help keep the school going forward now that it’s back on track.

“The uphill climb now is state funding,” Howerton said. “A large number of schools like PISD have lost a considerable amount of funds from the state. It will take a strong effort from all the districts to get their voices heard. The board’s role should be to evaluate and support the Superintendent’s plans as they discover and move forward.”

Despite multiple attempts to contact challenger Vann Wakefield, there was no response as of press time.

PLACE 4

Carrie Cleveland Preather (incumbent)

Age: 40

Preather has lived in the area for 40 years and resides in Paradise.

She is married to Larry Preather and has two children, Cash and Jett Preather, both active at PISD in academics and extracurricular activities. She said her children are looking forward to completing their senior year next spring.

Preather said It has been a pleasure to watch her children thrive at PISD over the last 12 years. She believes their time at Paradise has prepared them to be active, responsible and educated leaders in the future.

She graduated from PHS (1993) as did her parents and other family members over the years. Her mother taught in PISD for 25 years.

She said her love for Paradise is deep-rooted, and serving on the school board is her way of giving back. She said she is prepared for the issues the district is facing.

“I feel the major issue facing PISD today is the state funding cuts,” Preather said. “As a board, we work closely with our Superintendent Robert Criswell to ensure the money we receive is used wisely for the good of the children at PISD.”

JIMMIE D. “JIM” TAYLOR

Age: 60

Taylor, a Wise County resident since 1989. lives in Cottondale.

He has five grandchildren and two nieces in PISD, from pre-K to high school. In the past 20 years he has had three children and seven nieces and nephews graduate from Paradise High School. Taylor’s wife of 42 years, Patti, works for WG Financial in Bridgeport and Mann Refrigeration.

He said he wants to serve because because of his vested interest in Paradise ISD. He has previously served on the school board, so he already possesses the ability and experience to be effective.

“The major issue facing Paradise ISD is stability. In the past 18 months every administrative position from superintendent to elementary school principal and athletic director has changed personnel,” Taylor said. “The superintendent position is yet to be filled. It will be the task of the new board to provide the stability of purpose, goal, strategic and long-range planning.

“The first step is selection of a superintendent to operate under the leadership of the board. Change must be controlled and channeled to meet the 5-, 10-, 20-year goals and strategies as determined by the board. The fact of complete change in administrative staff from superintendent to elementary principal in a short period of time says the board has had to move from strategic planning to operational planning and firefighting.

“The board is the voice of the voters in determining the short and long term goals and strategies for the district.”

—–

Early voting for the Paradise school board election will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 20-24, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 27-31 at three locations:

  • Decatur City Hall, 201 E. Walnut St., Decatur
  • Rhome City Hall, 105 1st., Rhome
  • Bridgeport Law Enforcement Center, 1000 Thompson St., Bridgeport

Early voting will also be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 25, and noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 26, at Decatur City Hall only.

On election day, the polls will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the following Paradise-area locations:

  • Precinct 22 – AgriLife Extension Building, 206 S. State, Decatur
  • Precinct 8 – Assumption Catholic Church 1305 S. Deer Park, Decatur
  • Precinct 14 – Bridgeport Lions Hall, 1107 6th St., Bridgeport
  • Precinct 16 – Boonsville Community Center, West on Hwy 920, Boonsville
  • Precinct 17 – First United Methodist Church, Activity Center, 301 S. Oak, Paradise
  • Precinct 20 – Cottondale Community Center, 161 CR 3571, Cottondale
  • Precinct 23 – Boyd Community Center, 420 E Morton Ave., Boyd.

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Paradise ISD has two spots on Nov. ballot

Early voters looking to decide the Paradise school board election Nov. 4 will have to cast their ballots outside the city.

Full three-year terms for Places 3 and 4 are up for grabs with Place 5 secured by Rusty Ford, who’s running unopposed. Incumbent Kevin Howerton is being challenged by Vann Wakefield for Place 3 and Jim Taylor faces off against Place 4 incumbent Carrie Preather.

PISD is partnering with Wise County for its election, so early voting locations are determined by where the county has machines.

Early voting for the Paradise school board election will be 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Oct. 20-24, and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 27-31 at three locations:

  • Decatur City Hall, 201 E. Walnut St., Decatur
  • Rhome City Hall, 105 1st., Rhome
  • Bridgeport Law Enforcement Center, 1000 Thompson St., Bridgeport

Early voting will also be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 25, and noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 26, at Decatur City Hall only.

On election day, the polls will open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the following Paradise-area locations:

  • Precinct 22 – AgriLife Extension Building, 206 S. State, Decatur
  • Precinct 8 – Assumption Catholic Church 1305 S. Deer Park, Decatur
  • Precinct 14 – Bridgeport Lions Hall, 1107 6th St., Bridgeport
  • Precinct 16 – Boonsville Community Center, West on Hwy 920, Boonsville
  • Precinct 17 – First United Methodist Church, Activity Center, 301 S. Oak, Paradise
  • Precinct 20 – Cottondale Community Center, 161 CR 3571, Cottondale
  • Precinct 23 – Boyd Community Center, 420 E Morton Ave., Boyd.

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Paradise ISD approves adjunct agreement

Paradise school board members agreed unanimously Thursday to continue the district adjunct faculty agreement with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension of Wise County.

The agreement allows Extension agents to supervise students when they are out of school to show at events like the Wise County Youth Fair and other stock shows and contests.

The AgriLife Extension office does this for all the schools in Wise County.

The board also approved textbooks and school policy updates.

The board’s next regular meeting is Oct. 20.

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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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Paradise ISD advances with deficit budget

Paradise ISD board members are looking at an “austere” budget for the coming school year.

While spending has been reduced, PISD’s 2014-2015 budget will be about $213,000 shy of balanced based on the proposal.

During a board meeting Thursday night, trustees also proposed a tax rate of $1.34 and set a public hearing 6:30 p.m. Aug. 25 for the community to come and discuss the proposed budget and tax rate.

“Before you is a budget that is very austere,” said Robert Criswell, PISD interim Superintendent. “I say austere, but also lean, very lean. Even at that, our expenditures are larger than our revenues.”

According to Criswell, who took the job on an interim basis after Monty Chapman resigned last spring, the bulk of the deficit comes from increases in salaries. He said some vacated positions have gone dark in the district, but necessary spending in other areas wiped out those gains.

Maintenance and operations spending is down 10.44 percent while total expenditures are up 2.75 percent.

“This is a deficit budget. Never in my career have I recommended a deficit budget, but we have one this year,” Criswell said. “That is just the nature of the beast and hopefully we can overcome this at some point in time.”

The proposed $1.34 tax rate includes $1.04 for maintenance and operations and 30 cents for debt service.

Criswell said the district’s financial shortcomings are not untenable and the district still has options moving forward.

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Paradise School Board reconfigures meal service

The Paradise school board is cooking up a new plan for the district’s cafeterias.

Trustees Monday night approved a bid from Aramark to provide food services for the district, starting this fall.

Interim Superintendent Robert Criswell said it would be five years before the district sees a profit – but over the years, food services has regularly run a deficit, so almost anything would be an improvement.

In the first year, expenditures with Aramark are projected to be $498,062, while revenue through meal purchases is expected to be $391,125 – a loss of $106,937. The losses are projected to decrease annually until year five, when a net $307 profit is expected.

“We’ve historically lost $100,000-plus on this thing forever, so this isn’t out of line,” Criswell said. “We’re not going to get rich off this thing, but if we can break even, it’ll be all right.”

Paradise ISD plans to partner with neighboring Boyd ISD to make it more economically feasible for both districts.

Criswell said he thought the loss could be decreased if more students choose to participate in the program.

“I think it may be better than that by the time we get more kids eating,” he said. “We’ve got to have more participation if we’re going to try to make things break even.”

Criswell said all current food service employees will get to choose whether they become an Aramark employee or remain employees of the school district, but no one should lose their job.

“I think it’s time to try something new,” Criswell said.

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Paradise ISD changes class rank policy

Paradise School Board followed the lead of many other local school districts, approving a new class ranking policy Monday night.

Chief Financial Officer Mac Edwards, who is a former PHS principal, said the changes will put the race for class rank on a more level playing field.

“The way the policy reads right now … it kind of punishes kids for taking electives, it punishes their GPAs (grade point averages),” he said.

The plan approved Monday night will base class rank on four core classes – English, math, science and social studies – plus a foreign language. This will affect only incoming freshmen.

“So basically, you’re taking out electives to determine class rank,” said Board President Homer Mundy.

Earlier in the meeting Edwards had explained that it’s difficult to compare elective classes head-to-head, which is why basing class rank on the core classes is more fair.

“We’re not pioneers in this,” he said. “Other districts have adopted something similar.”

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Paradise Intermediate gets new principal

Paradise Intermediate School will have new leadership next year, as school counselor Kristin Gage will take over as principal.

The school board held a special meeting Monday night to make the selection. They unanimously agreed to give her a two-year contract.

Gage has been in education for 19 years, 15 of them in PISD.

The district began searching for a new intermediate school principal earlier this month when current principal Terry McCutchen announced his resignation.

According to Superintendent Monty Chapman and McCutchen, he was leaving PISD for personal reasons and had not yet lined up another job.

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Paradise school board takes no action on superintendent’s contract

The Paradise school board met behind closed doors for more than four hours Monday night, discussing Superintendent Monty Chapman’s evaluation and possible contract renewal.

Emerging from the session, they took no action on Chapman’s contract.

The only item they acted on was to buy two welders and a plotter for the school’s ag program.

Board members were given superintendent evaluation forms in the December board meeting so they could discuss and evaluate Chapman’s performance at their January session.

After last year’s evaluation, trustees voted 5-2 to extend Chapman’s three-year contract. It was extended by unanimous vote in 2011 and 2012, and the 2012 vote also provided a 3 percent raise beginning in 2013.

Chapman’s current annual salary is $111,448, which places him in the middle of the pack compared to other superintendents in Wise County.

Boyd ISD, the closest in student population to Paradise, pays its superintendent Ted West $90,000 annually.

Salaries

IN OTHER NEWS

  • Chapman reported district expenditures and expected revenue has improved because of high student attendance. This dropped the earlier calculated expenditure deficit from $180,545 to $56,021.
    The new calculations are based on the first full semester of the 2013-14 school year.
    • For school board appreciation month, board members were honored by faculty and students with gift baskets and specially made videos.

    Chapman also gave each of the board members certificates of appreciation from the Texas Association of School Boards.

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