By Kathi Bliss
With a student population on the rise and campus facilities in decline, the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees is trapped between a rock and a hard place, needing to take action but unsure what action to take.
In an effort to hammer out those decisions, the Board appointed a citizen task force to analyze the 10 campuses in the District to determine whether upgrades need to be made, construction should be considered or patchwork should be continued.
The recommendations of that committee were presented to the trustees during their regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 23, and the general consensus was simply, “It’s time to build.”
Moving forward, the trustees will be tasked with considering more than 350 pages of information, leading toward making a decision about extensive renovations needed at Lockhart High School, building a new elementary campus and repurposing the ML Cisneros Campus and possibly, Lockhart Junior High School.
The recommendation is for an extensive remodel of the high school, which will allow for space for freshman to be moved back to the main high school campus, building a new elementary school and moving the Central Administrative Office to the Cisneros campus.
The trustees, however, have ideas of their own, which include repurposing Lockhart Junior High School as a high school campus, and moving the Junior High to the Center Street complex.
The Board has scheduled a series of workshops next month, the first to be held on Oct. 3, to review the information and discuss their options.
In other business:
The Trustees engaged in an extended discussion about the way information is presented to the Board prior to their monthly meetings. Trustee Jon Reyes asked for a change in Board procedure that would require a minimum amount of documentation to be provided when a board member asks for an item to be placed on the agenda.
Minimum requirements, he said, would allow trustees the opportunity to research items they would be asked to discuss, so that they can make informed decisions for the good of the District.
Some trustees balked at the idea of a minimum requirement, however, suggesting that improved communication among the trustees should be sufficient to allow each to make a decision. Specifically, Trustee Juan Alvarez said sometimes there is no documentation to offer, and while he admitted that he occasionally does not provide backup documents for his agenda items, he would try to do better in the future.
In a related item, the Trustees spent a great deal of time discussing the way the minutes of their meetings are kept.
Trustee Jessica Neyman brought forth to her colleagues a suggestion that the Board Secretary, instead of summarizing agenda items for the official minutes, should provide an exact transcription of the meetings. In that way, Neyman said, no one individual would be responsible for interpreting the nuances of each Trustee’s words.
Trustee Brenda Spillmann was among the trustees to express concern about the idea, suggesting such a change would create a burdensome workload for the Board Secretary, who was not present at the meeting to offer her thoughts on the matter.
Several ideas were considered as the talks went forward, from leaving the record keeping the way it is, to adding time-stamps to the minutes so the public can research for themselves, through audio recordings, the exact words of their trustees.
Finally, Trustee Carl Cisneros offered compromise, suggesting that the Board Policy be changed to allow for the public to request exact transcriptions of specific agenda items.
While Neyman, Alvarez and Trustee Tom Guyton agreed with Cisneros’ compromise, Spillmann, Reyes and Board President Rick Womble voted against it, instead preferring to have a written version of the policy change to review before accepting it.
In brief news:
The Trustees approved travel for the LHS Boys and Girls Cross Country teams to participate in the University of Arkansas Chili Pepper Invitational, the weekend of Oct. 5, 2013.
They approved a state-mandated Maximum Class Size Waiver Exception.
The Board approved an out-of-state trip for employees to attend the International Dyslexic Association Conference. The travel will be funded by the San Marcos Civic Foundation.
Administrators presented reports regarding the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (Schools FIRST), and the Career and Technical Education (CATE) programs.
The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees meets routinely 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 broadcast online at www.lockhartisd.org.