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Stories Added - December 2008
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Demolition projects delayed until summer
Polk County Enterprise - December 2008
LIVINGSTON – Livingston I.S.D.’s old auditorium and annex building will stand a little longer than planned after the school board rejected demolition bids at Monday night’s meeting. All of the bids received were rejected sight-unseen after Superintendent Dr. Darrell Myers recommended to the board that demolition of the buildings be postponed because of concerns about the location of natural gas lines. Myers said that locations are unknown for some the gas lines and for the safety of the students the demolition should not take place when the campus is open.
Trustees opted not to consider the week of spring break as a tentative date for demolition because of the short time frame which would leave no room for error, bad weather or delays. Terry Jordan, Director of Plant Services and Transportation, said that there is the possibility of moving the gas meter — which currently sits within four feet of the annex building — but, because of the unknowns in the equation, gas company workers are unsure as to how complicated that relocation might be. The board approved work on asbestos removal from the buildings beginning as soon as possible. Water lines at the new high school campus were also on Monday’s agenda. The board approved an agreement with First United Methodist Church of Livingston granting the district a 30-foot utility easement along the west side of the district’s property that adjoins church grounds.
The easement will allow for a driveway and city water lines. In exchange for the easement, the district will allow the church to tap the water line for its use pending annexation by the city. L.I.S.D. received a rating of Academically Acceptable on the Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) for the 2007-2008 school year for the high school, junior high school and intermediate school. Pine Ridge Elementary received a Recognized rating along with Gold Performance for reading/english language arts and mathematics. Timber Creek Elementary received an Exemplary rating with Gold Performance for reading/english language arts and mathematics.
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction Janan Moore presented the results, comparing the district’s performance with state averages and the prior year’s results. While math scores for 6th, 7th, and 8th grades have made significant gains, there is still room for improvement in science and math district-wide, Moore said. The district and three campuses did not meet the criteria for Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), according to the preliminary 2008 results. Livingston High School, Junior High School and Intermediate School all missed the AYP standards. Thirty-two percent of the Texas schools evaluated also missed the mark. LISD fell short based on the standards for Special Education subgroups of 50 students or more, district officials said. AYP is part of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. Under the accountability provisions in the ac,t all public school campuses, school districts and the state are evaluated for Adequate Yearly Progress.
Criteria are set for three measures: reading/language arts, mathematics, and either graduation rate (for high schools and districts) or attendance rate (for elementary and middle/junior high schools). If a campus, district, or state that is receiving Title I, Part A funds fails to meet AYP for two consecutive years, that entity is subject to additional requirements such as offering supplemental education services, offering school choice, and/or taking corrective actions. In a report on the district’s band programs, district director David Powell attributed the drop in enrollment to a lack of continuity in staff, particularly at the junior high campus.
Powell said Livingston has one of the smallest bands in the district. Other contributing factors include the rising cost of instruments and the time commitment. A beginner level clarinet that would have cost parents $500 a couple of years ago is now $900, Powell said. Board President Bea Ellis asked about the availability of grants to help with the purchase of instruments and Powell explained that while there are grants “out there,” the district doesn’t always meet the criteria for them.
Trustees also approved the addition of numerous courses to the list of classes approved for waiver of the UIL no pass, no play provisions Monday. Currently students can fail pre- Advanced Placement (pre-AP) or Advance Placement (AP) courses but retain their UIL standing to participate in extracurricular activities. In addition to the AP classes, the district will add Spanish III and IV, algebra III, chemistry II, and anatomy and physiology of humans to the list of courses for which a student may request a waiver if failing the course. Myers told the board there is concern that because of the no pass, no play provision students are avoiding pre-AP or AP classes for fear that the workload would cause them to lose eligibility to participate in sports, theater, band and other extracurricular activities. Board member Henry Ager asked if anyone knew for a fact that students are avoiding these advanced classes because of the no pass, no play requirements.
Moore responded that administrators do not know for sure that enrollment is reduced for that reason. Board member Jeff Galloway said he figured that the students who were going on to college were going to take these courses regardless of no pass, no play regulations. Myers explained that he hopes by taking some of the risk away from these classes more students will be encouraged to take them. “The counselors are going to have to challenge kids to take these courses,” Myers said. In other business, the district received a favorable report on its annual financial audit and heard a presentation by Davalle Allums of Johnson Controls regarding the district’s energy audit. Allums outlined the areas where the district would need to improve to meet the state mandate of a 5 percent reduction in energy costs over the next five years.
The district has annual utility costs, including electricity, natural gas and water, of about $1 million. Allums suggested that the district can reduce its kilowatt hours used by 15 to 25 percent by modifying the current facilities, allowing the district to see $140,000 to $240,000 in savings per year. Trustees also approved the purchase of a 24-passenger bus with handicapped accessibility for $79,918. Following a closed session, the board approved the hiring of the following auxiliary personnel: Sarah Perkins as a PPCD aide at Timber Creek, Margarita Cuevas as a custodian at the junior high, Debbie McClure as a high school cafeteria worker and Melvyna Barnes-Allison as a bus driver. Trustees accepted the resignation of Maj. Charlie Hester, High School ROTC Instructor, effective at the end of the contract year.