No firearm found at Bridgeport HS after rumor

A rumor that a student brought a firearm to Bridgeport High School was quickly dispelled Friday afternoon, according to a press release by Bridgeport ISD Superintendent Brandon Peavey.

Peavey said the school district received an unconfirmed report that an unknown student heard another student say they had a gun. The Bridgeport Campus Police Officers, Campus Administrators and other District Administrators investigated the situation at the time of the report.

Bridgeport ISD interviewed students and reviewed security cameras during the investigation and no firearm was found on campus.

Bridgeport Police Chief Steve Stanford said the department increased the number of officers at the high school and also brought in a dog used to detect firearms and gunpowder. Stanford added no firearm was discovered.

Bridgeport campus police will remain on campus through dismissal Friday.

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Alvord, Northwest earn A’s in accountability ratings

Two Wise County school districts earned A’s in the first A-F accountability ratings released Wednesday by the Texas Education Agency.
Alvord and Northwest received the letter grade of A based on three domains measuring academic performance — student achievement, school progress and closing the gaps. All districts in the county earned passing grades.
In the student achievement domain, student performance is evaluated across all subjects for all students on both general and alternate assessments, college, career and military readiness indicators and graduation rates. The school progress measures district and campus outcomes in two areas — the number of students that grew at least one year academically as measured by State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) results and the achievement of all students relative to districts or campuses with similar economically disadvantaged percentages. In the closing the gaps domain, data is used to demonstrate differentials among racial and ethnic groups, socioeconomic backgrounds and other factors.
Alvord scored an average of 90, getting an 89 for student achievement, 84 for school progress and 93 for closing the gaps.
Northwest earned a 90 for student achievement, 85 for school progress and 94 for closing the gaps.
Decatur and Paradise earned B’s in the rating.
Decatur’s overall score was an 86. The district scored an 87 for student achievement, 83 for school progress and 84 for closing the gaps.
Paradise graded out with an 83, with an 84 for student achievement, 76 for school progress and 82 for closing the gaps.
Because it is a single-campus district, Slidell was assigned the rating of met standard with an overall grade of 80. The district had an 80 for student achievement, 84 for school progress and 72 for closing the gaps.
Boyd, Bridgeport and Chico received C’s.
Boyd had an overall grade of 76, with a 77 for student achievement, 69 for school progress and 73 for closing the gaps.
Bridgeport graded out with a 79. The district scored a 76 for student achievement, 80 for school progress and 76 for closing the gaps.
Chico received a scored of 78 with a 75 for student achievement, 79 for school progress and 76 for closing the gaps.

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Schools encouraged by Abbott’s school security plans

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

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Back to school: Superintendents channel first day excitement

Back to school: Superintendents channel first day excitement

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

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


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


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


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



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

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

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

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


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

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Make-A-Wish brings Fort Connor to reality

Dressed in an Air Force utility uniform, an excited Connor Berardi sprinted through the crowd Saturday and into Fort Connor.
Inside, the 8-year-old found an arsenal of his favorite Nerf guns lining the wall of his personal man cave.
“I love it,” Connor yelled holding one of the toy guns and surrounded by friends.
The wooden structure behind the Berardi’s home on Stone Court just south of Paradise was unveiled Saturday morning by the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Last year, Berardi was diagnosed with desmoplastic small round cell tumor (DSRCT) — an extremely rare form of cancer. The disease has a low five-year survival rate, but Connor is in remission.
“He has a positive prognosis,” said Connor’s mother, Patina Berardi. “It’s because it was found early and hadn’t spread.”
His father Chad Berardi said Connor has been biking daily after spending much of the past year indoors, trying to get back to health.
“He’s doing wonderful,” he said.
Connor received word in May during an assembly at Bridgeport Elementary, where he attends, that he would get his own personalized man cave with a bunk bed, Xbox and the important Nerf guns. He was presented a model during the assembly.
He’s watched the construction of Fort Connor, but Saturday was his first chance to get inside and play.
“That’s been the hardest part, keeping him from peeking through the windows,” Patina Berardi explained. “He could see the outside. We’re blown away. They’ve went above and beyond.”
Seeing her son bounce around with a smile, she adds: “His excitement means everything. We can close a chapter. We won and we’re done.”
Kelly Read of Decatur headed the local Make-A-Wish effort to bring Fort Connor to reality. The foundation contracted with Grossman Design Build of Mansfield to construct the playhouse that includes air conditioning and electricity.
“This is the third project we’ve done with Make-A-Wish,” said Brian Grossman. “We’re happy to help. It turned out really good.”
Grace Fellowship’s Life Class completed the staining. Other community members, family and friends chipped in to finish the project by Saturday.
“I’ve done a lot of these but this one is off the charts,” said Paula Austell, a Make-A-Wish ambassador.
“He wanted a man cave to play video games and it blossomed from there.”
Air Force Tech Sergeant Tyler Allen from Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls attended Saturday’s unveiling and presented Connor with a wooden mission coin holder along with several mission coins. It was an appropriate gift for Connor who has a passion for the Air Force.
The Berardis are touched by the generosity of others. They have been donating time at the Ronald McDonald House and delivering food to families with children battling cancer.
“We can’t say enough. We’re trying to do everything we can to give back,” Patina Berardi said.
As for Fort Connor, the commander has set one important rule.
“There’s no shooting the Mega Gun in the house,” Connor said.

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Bridgeport teacher recognized for work at elementary

Bridgeport School Board recognized the district’s winner of the Jack Harvey Fellowship Award Monday Night.

Vonne Walton, who teaches Tier 3 or struggling students at Bridgeport Elementary, was awarded the fellowship by Weatherford College Wise County.

“She just has a heart for our students,” Principal Martha Bock said. “I don’t know what will happen if she ever leaves me. I’ll be so sad.”

Bock said that Walton not only helps struggling students in class, but outside of school as well, reaching out to families who need financial assistance in her free time.

“She is doing ministry not only for the kids, but for the families in Bridgeport,” Bock said.

Bock said Walton was initially not sure she should accept the award, since she’d won it years before while working for Chico ISD. Walton ultimately decided to accept it, dedicating it to the other teachers in the district.

“There are so many great teachers,” Walton said. “I’m just the one standing here.”


Bridgeport ISD has applied to join the Texas Vaccines for Children program, designed to help districts immunize students who are under-insured.

The program will cost the district $800, which will cover a refrigerator in which to store the vaccines. The annual operating cost of the program is $170.

Any child who needs to get shots will be able to receive them from the school nurses. Nurses anticipate using the vaccines mostly at the elementary and middle schools. High school seniors whose insurance won’t cover the meningitis shot needed for college are also eligible to receive that vaccine from the school.

School board trustees also:

  • heard a report from Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Gina Florence that indicated all Bridgeport schools met Texas Education Agency standards in 2015, but the district’s special needs program needs improvement;
  • approved Bridgeport Middle School’s 2017 field trip to New York City; and
  • approved the 2016-2017 district calendar. Some highlights: school starts Aug. 22 and ends May 25, Thanksgiving break is Nov. 24-25, Christmas break is Dec. 19-30, spring break is March 13-17, and bad weather days are April 17 and May 15. There will be no early release days.
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Back to School: Bridgeport


  • Heath Tullous, physical education, Chico
  • Angela Eudy, instructional coach, Northwest
  • Angelica Garcia, bilingual teacher, Bridgeport


  • Diana Flores, bilingual teacher, first year
  • Raquel Rivas, bilingual teacher, Wichita Falls
  • Andria Sessions, fourth- grade math, Jacksboro
  • Kara Womble, fourth- grade English, Spearman
  • Brittany Sutherland, third-grade English, Bridgeport


  • Justin Newsom, special education/coach, first year
  • Renee Howerton, science, Royse City
  • Andrew Ness, science, Denton
  • Teresia Clemons, English, Northwest
  • Ricky Taylor, English/coach, Gunter
  • Angela Morton, math, Decatur


  • John Tuggle, soccer coach, Mineral Wells
  • Melissa Fitzgerald, English, Slidell
  • Tobie Hart, English, Chico
  • Lindsay Hare, English, Perrin Whitt
  • Jennifer Ragland, math/coach, Lewisville
  • Lindsey Rooker, English, first year
  • Kelly Irvin, social studies/coach, Springtown
  • Tracey Tuggle, special education, Mineral Wells
  • Joey Reyes, math, first year


  • Elizabeth Edmonson, counselor, first year
  • Jennifer Sayles, diagnostician, Fort Worth


  • Brook Brei, Bridgeport Elementary to Bridgeport High, art
  • Christian Garza, Bridgeport Intermediate to Bridgeport Elementary, kindergarten
  • Stephen Hill, Bridgeport Middle to Bridgeport Intermediate, 5th grade

AUG. 12

  • Senior pictures and schedule pickup is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Bridgeport High School.
  • Seventh-grade orientation is 5:30 p.m. at Bridgeport Middle School.

AUG. 13

  • Sixth-grade orientation is 5:30 p.m. at Bridgeport Middle School.

AUG. 14

  • Convocation breakfast is 7:30 to 9 a.m. at Bridgeport High School.

AUG. 18

  • Sophomore and junior pictures and schedule pickup is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Freshmen orientation is 5:30-7:30 p.m.

AUG. 19

  • Sophomore and junior pictures and schedule pickup is 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

AUG. 20

  • Bridgeport Elementary Meet Your Teacher is 4:30 to 6 p.m.
  • Bridgeport Intermediate Meet Your Teacher is 4:30 to 6 p.m.
  • AUG. 24

    • First day of school
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Closing in on Bridgeport stadium renovation

Bridgeport ISD is one step closer to football stadium renovations and agriculture barn construction after the school board unanimously agreed to use the sealed proposal method of building Monday night at its meeting.

“All that means is that we’ll get an architect and an engineer to work on the plans, and then a general contractor will bid the project,” Superintendent Eddie Bland said. “And all of the details of that may be finalized at next month’s meeting, but I’m not sure.”

The board’s other action was to amend its budget to allow for the purchase of up to 100 new Mac computers. The purchase will cost $100,000 and would foster in up-to-date software like the latest version of Rosetta Stone.

Technology was a major discussion point at the night’s meeting, with school members discussing the pros and cons of iPads in the classroom, with one member bringing up the difficulty of writing a research paper on the tablet.

“Some of the English teachers at the middle school are saying how hard it is for their students to write on the iPads,” Steve Stanford said.

Other board members agreed and said that they should work to find a writing app for the desktop computers that would work for students and teachers, like Google Drive.

The board also brought up the district’s use of social media after a fake Weatherford ISD Twitter account fooled students into thinking there would be no school because of snow on Monday.

“We need to make sure our official Facebook and Twitter names are well-known on the district website to make sure we avoid any confusion,” high school Principal Jaime Sturdivant said.

The board’s next meeting is 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at 2107 15th St. and is open to the public.

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Bridgeport School Board adopts $22 million budget

The Bridgeport school board adopted a $22,024,851 budget and a tax rate of $1.23280 per $100 valuation at its specially-called meeting Monday night.

The budget breaks down into $18,128,925 for operating expenses, $1,179,561 for food service and $2,716,365 for debt service.

The operating budget is more conservative than last year’s by $83,321, with most of the changes coming from a $629,989 fund balance transfer into the operating budget.

The district plans to spend less on teacher instruction, library costs, guidance counseling, administration, plant maintenance, security, data processing and facilities – and more on curriculum, instruction and school leadership, social, health, transportation, extracurricular, debt, contracted and shared services and government expenses.

Most of the revenue to pay for that will come from the local tax revenue, at a rate of $1.23280 per $100 valuation.

The food service portion of the budget increased by $77,335 from last year, while the money alloted for debt service increased by $25,750. The district’s $0.19280 interest and sinking fund tax will go towards that debt, while the other $1.04 will go towards district maintenance and operations.

Board vice president Charles Mauldin was not present.

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Bridgeport ISD to adopt budget

A special Bridgeport school board meeting will be held Monday, Aug. 25, to adopt the district tax rate and budget for the 2014-2015 fiscal year.

The tax rate, approved Aug. 4, is set at $1.23280 per $100 valuation. This rate is composed of a $1.04 tax for maintenance and operations and a $0.1928 interest and sinking fund tax, which would be used to make payments on bonded debt for construction and equipment.

The meeting is 7 p.m. at 2107 15th St. and is open to the public.

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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.


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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