LISD ousts Rapp, restructures Head Coach position

By Kathi Bliss

Editor/POST-REGISTER

In a move that surprised some and infuriated others, the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Monday evening to revamp the position of Head Football Coach at Lockhart High School.

The decision, which was voted upon after having been discussed behind closed doors, will lead to a shift in responsibilities for the Head Football Coach.

For several years, the District has employed head football coaches to perform both in coaching and teaching capacities. As a result of Monday’s vote, the head coach will now be taken out of the classroom, and will assume the duties of “high school athletics coordinator.”

No discussion about the change or the reasons behind it were aired publicly on Monday night, and District officials declined to comment on the change.

However, students were abuzz as early as Monday afternoon about the reassignment of seated Head Coach Robin Rapp, who has been transferred to Lockhart Junior High, where it is said that he will continue to perform in both a coaching and teaching capacity.

In connection with the upcoming redistricting and change in Lockhart ISD’s election schedules, the Trustees passed a resolution that will extend all current board member terms to November 2012, and will restructure elections after that time.

Under a recently-enacted law, school boards are required to hold their elections concurrently with a governmental body in their area. Historically, LISD elections have been held in conjunction with City of Lockhart elections.

Last year, the city voted to move their elections to the November general election date, which forced the District to do the same. However, another relatively obscure change in law also requires school district board members to serve four-year, rather than three-year terms.

As a result of the changes, the board voted on Monday to extend the terms of the currently-seated board members until November 2012, at which time it appears an election will be held for all seven seats. After that election, board members will “draw straws” to determine whether the at-large or single-member seats will serve two-year terms, in order to return to a staggered election pattern.

In other business, the Trustees discussed a change in the District’s employment policy that would give the Board final approval over contractual and non-contractual personnel.

The change in policy, suggested by Trustee Tom Guyton, is a reversal of the decision made by the board last year, allowing the Superintendent to offer approval over employment decisions.

The original change, also suggested by Guyton, was made as a hiring tool, with the idea that it would be easier for the District to recruit teachers and paraprofessionals if they could offer positions right away, rather than waiting for a board meeting for approval to make an offer.

Guyton said it made sense to revert to the original policy to ensure board involvement in the hiring process.

The motion passed on a split vote, with Guyton, Alvarez, Juarez and Munoz in support of the change, and Brooks, Spillman and Pittman voicing concerns about reversing the board’s earlier decision and voting against making the change.

District CFO Tina Knudsen gave the board a brief update of the district’s budgeting concerns, noting that the recent repeal of the “Doggett Amendment” to the Federal Education and Jobs bill may change the landscape of school finance at both the state and local level.

Knudsen said that the State of Texas has applied for and been approved to receive funds under the Education and Jobs bill, but it was undetermined at this point how those funds would be applied and whether it would impact the local budgeting process.

She is making plans for the District to brace for a budget shortfall up to $1.9 million next year, based on the school finance models being discussed in the State Legislature. However, the District administration is preparing for that shortfall through cost-saving measures and discussion of tapping into the District’s existing fund balance, and shying away from the idea of cutting services or staffing to make up the deficit.

In brief business:

Two members of the Lockhart High School Class of 2009 earned their diplomas and were recognized by the LISD Board of Trustees. Both Eduardo Mendieta and Jacqueline Martinez continued, after completing their high school coursework in 2009, to work with educators to pass the TAKS tests and earn their diplomas. Both were able to pass all Exit-Level tests this spring, and both were certified by Parra as qualified graduates of Lockhart High School.

The Trustees recognized a number of students and community volunteers for their achievements and service this year, including those who have helped at Carver Kindergarten, Bluebonnet Elementary, Clear Fork Elementary and Navarro Elementary.

The Lockhart High School Freshman Campus recognized several students who competed in UIL Academic events.

The board also recognized students from Lockhart High School who competed and excelled in UIL Academic events.

Lady Lion athlete Katy Duda was named to the Texas State Girls Coaches’ Association Academic All-State Basketball Team.

Four members of the DECA team will travel to Orlando, Fla., to compete in the DECA International Career Development Conference, beginning next week: Jonathan Alvarez, Gilbert Morales, Murphy Mendez and Denay Franks.

Despite a ringing endorsement from Lockhart High School cafeteria manager Nancy Woolridge, the Trustees decided to seek out bids for the district’s food service contract for next year. Though Woolridge said the service through Food Service Excellence was a vast improvement over the district’s former contractors, the Board voted to seek new information because the organization did not meet the financial standards they spelled out at the beginning of their contract term.

The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees traditionally 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 stakeholders are encouraged to attend and participate.

kathibliss@post-register.com

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