By Miranda Rogers
A Lockhart ISD parent raised concerns on Monday evening that the district’s requirements for the National Honor Society inadvertently punish students taking higher-level courses.
Dennis Placke presented a Level III Parent Grievance regarding the NHS requirements, which he claimed were unfair towards certain weighted classes.
His concern began recently when Placke discovered that his daughter’s name did not appear on the list of students eligible to apply to the NHS. Upon that discovery, he said, he emailed a member of the administration to request a list of the requirements.
Under the current structure of the National Honor Society, schools are allowed to choose the grade standards for student admission into NHS. Though the Society recommends an 85 percent grade average, Lockhart High School has operated with a minimum standard of a 90 percent grade average for several years.
Placke’s daughter’s average fell just below the 90 percent threshold. Still, he said, he was disappointed that the review committee did not take into account the types of classes taken by students, such as Pre-AP and honors classes, and asked if it were possible to recognize students for taking those higher-level courses.
Addressing the issue, LHS Principal Monica Guillory said committee was meticulous and was “doing everything by the books,” but noted if the GPA requirement was lowered to the 85 percent suggested by NHS, that more than 300 Lockhart High students would be eligible for admission.
Notably, Lockhart is not the only district to deviate from the 85-percent rule. Boerne ISD, for instance, requires a 95 grade average for admission to NHS, and Trustee Tom Guyton said he recalled an average of about 97 when he was a member of NHS around 30 years ago.
Guillory agreed that the process should be reviewed, and reminded the Board that students who are not invited to join NHS during their Junior year may reapply as Seniors.
Originally, Placke had requested retroactive action to be taken, which would presumably allow his daughter admission into NHS. When the Trustees appeared to waffle on the decision, he changed his request, asking that they consider a change in future rules.
In other business, the Trustees talked over a possible change to the district’s employee hiring policy.
The original notion had been brought forward by Trustee Brenda Spillmann, who was absent from the meeting. As a courtesy, Board President Susan Brooks suggested the at the item be pulled from the agenda, so Spillmann could be present for the discussion. Trustee Juan Alvarez, however, insisted that they move forward with the discussion because it was legal to do so.
Spillmann’s suggestion was to change policy of employment practices for contractual and non-contractual personnel to delegate the hiring authority to the Superintendent, allowing him to hire teachers, registered nurses, librarians, counselors and assistant principals without the long process of bringing it before the board. The new process, supporters said, would make it more convenient to always have someone available just in case of a sudden resignation, but the concern was that the superintendent would also have the authority to terminate any para-professional at his discretion.
Juarez said he was concerned there would be no job security for these employees, and there were no “checks and balances” for the policy.
When Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra said he had “no interest in having the power to dismiss anyone,” Juarez suggested a change be made to the way the policy is written.
The trustees will continue to work with the policy language and verify all the information before bringing it back to the board for approval.
In other business:
A presentation was made to highlight the LISD Job Fairs, which took place April 14 and June 6, 2012. Administration advertised in area newspapers, stating prospects would receive a guaranteed interview, and contacted over 80 different colleges and universities, making an extra effort to go to the student unions. Out of the 193 candidates that showed up at the job fair, nine have been brought back to be considered for employment.
Sodexo, the district’s food service contractors, also gave an annual update of their Child Nutrition Program, outlining the different activities and classes for students, such as their Fine Dining Program, Action Stations at the Freshman Campus and Pride High School, Culinary Arts Program and Kids’ Culinary Competition.
Through their involvement, Sodexo has attempted to teach students proper table etiquette, proper cooking techniques, such as deboning fish and properly preparing vegetables, and have even offered a Serve-safe class, which will supply students with a certificate that is required if they choose to work at certain dining facilities.
Sodexo has also offered food shows that allow students to survey and taste food that is brought in to the school.
Juarez suggested the District issue a Request for Qualifications for new Legal Services.
In November 2007, the District entered into a contract for legal services with Henslee Schwartz, LLP. Prior to entering into that contract, the district had utilized the legal services of the law firm Walsh, Anderson, Brown, Gallegos and Green, P.C., for approximately 20 years.
The contract with Henslee Schwartz is scheduled to expire Aug. 31, 2012, and Juarez said he would like to see proposals from different law firms. Brooks seconded the idea.
While written notice for either party is not required, Trustee Rick Womble said he wanted to make sure proper notice was given of any decision they made, even if they chose to keep Schwartz.
The Board of Trustees has approved TD Industries as the contractor to replace the Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Systems at Plum Creek Elementary Annex, Lockhart High School Competition gym, and LHS Freshman M.L. Cisneros Campus, and amend to the budget in the amount of $410,000 for those repairs.
The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Conference Center at Lockhart High School. The meetings are open to the public, and are webcast on the district’s website, www.lockhartisd.org. They are also rebroadcast on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10 on Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons.
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