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Board members dig in for new challenges

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

Hope and change filled the air during the regular meeting of the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees on Monday evening.

As the district bid farewell to longtime trustee and former Board President John Flores, two new members stepped up to the table, ready to roll up their sleeves and work for the best of the district.

When the votes from the May 9, 2009, election were canvassed and confirmed, Flores and incumbent trustee John Manning, who was absent from the meeting because of personal commitments, stepped aside to make room at the table for incoming trustees Chip Pittman and Tom Guyton. Juan Alvarez, Jr., began his second term as the only trustee to win re-election.

Flores offered heartfelt and occasionally tearful advice to the seated board as he vacated a seat he has held since 1999.

“There was a time when they referred to myself and several other members of the board as the ‘Lockstep Five,’” he said, making reference to criticism he and several former trustees received earlier in his tenure. “They called us that because of the perception that we would back each other up, whether or not we agreed with one another. My hope is that this board will become the ‘Lockstep Seven.’”

After addressing the board for the first time in a decade as a private citizen, Flores took a moment to personally greet and thank the administrators and most of the individuals in the boardroom.

In his first official act as an LISD Trustee, Guyton nominated seated Board President Timoteo “Tim” Juarez, Jr., for another term as board president. He nominated Trustee Brenda Spillmann as vice president and Alvarez as secretary.
Guyton’s motion gained the support of Juarez and Alvarez, but was defeated 3-4.

Pittman offered a first motion of his own, nominating Trustee Susan Brooks as board president, Juarez as vice president and Trustee Derek Benavides as secretary. Pittman’s motion was supported by Brooks, Spillmann and Benavides, and carried 4-3.

After a brief reception and a physical reorganization of the board table, the newly-arranged board got down to the business of doing business.

LHS Parent Dora Olivares came forward to address the board with a concern about a senior who has not passed the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) test walking the stage at graduation.

Olivares addressed a rumor that certain staff members at Lockhart High have been campaigning to allow the young woman, who missed several weeks of school after an automobile accident this spring, to walk the stage on graduation night, despite the fact she has not completed an assignment to Delta or passed her TAKS test.

“I understand her situation, but there are other students who have got their credits but not passed their TAKS, and they don’t get to walk, whether they get a diploma or not,” Olivares said. “If they allow this girl to walk – it’s not personal against her – but if they allow her to walk, that’s just not fair to the rest of the kids.”

Although re-evaluation of the district’s policy on graduation standards was not on the agenda for the meeting and the board could not address Olivares’ concerns at the time, several trustees did ask Superintendent Jose Parra to look into the rumors that the student might be allowed to walk the stage.

Students who have not passed the TAKS test walking the stage at graduation has long been a contention point for the LISD Board, which currently does not allow students who have not passed the test to participate in commencement ceremonies.

In other business, the board heard a brief budget workshop presentation from Parra.

At this stage in the budget process, Parra estimates staffing costs will dominate the next fiscal year’s budget, totaling more than $973,000. In addition, the district is preparing for two large “capital outlay” projects, including an upgrade of the HVAC system at Plum Creek Elementary.

The trustees asked Parra to present more concrete figures during the next budget workshop, scheduled for June 1. Parra estimates at that time, he will have answers available regarding funding approved by the Texas Legislature and the Federal Government under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The board is scheduled to approve the budget during their regular meeting on June 22.

In brief news:
The board recognized dozens of Science Fair participants from Navarro Elementary. They also recognized members of the Lockhart High School Jr. ROTC program, who received nationwide awards this year.

Members of the Lion Athletic Booster club came forward to notify the board about concerns regarding unresolved issues with a member’s tenure, including keys to school facilities that have not been returned and funds that are unaccounted for. They said they are attempting to resolve the issues with the individual internally, but confirmed they might seek a legal resolution if the issues are not taken care of.

Although a Level III hearing about a personnel issue was scheduled, the parents who asked for the hearing requested it be postponed.

The board will meet for a budget workshop at 6:30 p.m. on June 1, 2009. Their next regularly scheduled meeting will be June 22, 2009. The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees meets in the Conference Center at Lockhart High School. Meetings are open to the public, and are available for viewing via webcast on the district’s website at www.lockhartisd.org.

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