|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2013 - Polk County Publishing Company
$1.3 million bid accepted for LES expansion
Trinity Standard -
TRINITY — After bids from six contractors all came in below the $1.5 million budget, the Trinity School Board voted Monday night to award the Lansberry Elementary School expansion contract. Collier Construction of Brenham was hired after they submitted the low bid of just under $1.27 million. Money for the project is being taken from the district's fund balance – money already in hand – and will not require a bond election or tax increase. Under the project, the contractor will build a new six-classroom wing at the elementary to house the fifth grade. Included in the work will be additional restrooms, a teachers' workroom and an additional serving line in the school cafeteria. The move to build the additional classrooms was prompted by a facilities committee recommendation that the existing Trinity Intermediate School be closed. Under that plan, starting with the 2013-14 school year, fifth graders will be moved to Lansberry while the sixth graders will be relocated to the Trinity Middle School. While the middle school currently has enough classroom space to accommodate the additional students, Lansberry does not. Until the new wing is completed in about January 2014, the fifth grade will attend classes in temporary buildings. James Halliburton from the firm of Jim Singleton Architects told the board that not only did Collier Construction submit the low bid for the work, they scored the highest in an evaluation of other criteria. He said they looked at factors such as past experience, job safety performance, the proximity of their office to the job site and the use of local companies as subcontractors. While all six of the bidders scored fairly high on the evaluation, Collier came out on top with a score of 95.3%. Halliburton added the construction superintendent that Collier will use for the project happens to be a Trinity resident. School Business Manager Kevin Parish told the board that he contacted three of Collier's school district references and all "highly rated" the company. Technology report During the meeting, school Technology Director Brian Furbee presented the end-of-year report on the district's technology program. Furbee noted that at present, the district has 21 servers providing the backbone of the school's computer network as well as 279 desktop computer sand 1080 "mobile devices". The desktop computers are primarily assigned to teachers and other staff members while most of the mobile devices – primarily iPads and laptops – are in the hands of students. He noted that over the coming summer, they would be buying iPads to replace the 190 laptops now being used by seventh and eighth graders at Trinity Middle School. Those laptops are now five years old and near the end of their useful lives, he said. A total of 290 laptops used by high school students have one more year to go before they also will need to be replaced, he said. It was noted during the meeting, the level of technology provided to students is far above most other schools in the region, including those that are much larger in size. The high level of technology offered to students also has become a recruiting tool used to help attract teachers, especially recent college graduates who have been trained in its use. Curriculum report In other business, Curriculum Director Steve Brownlee updated the board on the latest state mandated test results. He noted that the Class of 2013 will be the next-to-the-last group to graduate under the old Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test. The Class of 2015 will graduate under the rules of the new State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test. Brownlee noted that under state rules, current seniors must pass four required TAKS test before they can receive a diploma. As of Monday, all but one of the 2013 seniors have met that standard. The sole student who has not still needs to pass science but will cross the stage with the class. Students who do not pass all four tests are allowed to retake the test sections until they pass. Brownlee noted this year's junior class – the last that will take TAKS – had strong across-the-board improvement in their scores over the ones they posted during their sophomore year, Their English/language arts score of 94% passing was up by 12 percentage points from last year; their math score of 88% was up by 24 points; their social studies score of 98% was up by 4 points; and their science score of 87% was up by 40 points from 2012. He also presented fifth and eighth grade reading and math results from the STAAR test. The largest problem area was in the eighth grade math results where an almost across the board decrease in scores was reported. When compared to the same group of students one year ago, the only gain in math results was among the African American students, which increased the passing rate by 5%. Overall, eighth grade math scores were down by 7% while Hispanic students saw a 23 percent drop and White students recorded a 6% decrease. Brownlee said these score were based on the first of three rounds of testing. Students who failed the first time have already taken the second test but results have not yet been posted. Those that fail again can take the test again this summer. The curriculum director noted that after the first test, those who were having problems were given extra attention to help them learn the math concepts they with which they were having problems. He indicated he is confident that when the results of the second round of tests are received, they will show improvement. Other business During the meeting, the board also: • Learned that the state legislature appears to be ready to return $3.9 billion in education funding that was cut last year. Superintendent Dave Plymale said this is more than double what was previously expected and would mean more funding for local schools. • Received a college readiness report from Brownlee. • Received a report on the high school course catalog from Principal Christopher Ulcak • Voted to offer contracts to Michele Taylor as a second grade teacher; Jenifer Kemton as a high school counselor; Alison Crosby as a choir director; and Chad Holder as a sixth grade social studies teacher as boys baseball coach. Holder currently is coaching in Martinsville and previously coached at Saltillo and Avery high school. Prior to entering into coaching, he served in the U.S. Army, having achieved the rank of captain.