By Miranda Rogers
Despite more than a year of asking, and several passionate pleas from parents and students, the Lockhart Independent School District will not be building new tennis courts this year.
Robin Lewis, a tennis parent and vocal supporter of construction of new courts, approached the LISD Board of Trustees during open forum in an attempt to sway the panel’s vote, and to remind the Trustees that presently, the Lockhart Tennis Teams have to travel to all their competitions, because Lockhart does not have appropriate facilities to host tournaments.
After much discussion, the possibility of building the new courts failed in a 3-3 vote.
Construction of the courts had originally been estimated to cost as little as $9,000, or at most $1 million, but a report on the soil analysis performed by Geotech revealed that additional measures needed to be taken, resulting in additional costs.
Instead of the traditional 2-3 feet, construction would have to go six feet deep into the soil for a good foundation, including a caliche gravel mix layering. More cost also would be added on for drainage. Without a good slope, they would need to build retention ponds, or troughs on either side of the courts.
Overall, the additional improvements increased the price tag to well over $1 million.
Trustee Alfredo Munoz, who voted against the measure, said he had a problem with spending that much money, and suggested that the item be brought back later.
On the other hand, Trustee Tom Guyton, a longtime champion of the construction, reminded the trustees that they had voted 7-0 to hit a goal of 100 percent participation [in extracurricular activities], and the tennis courts would help achieve that goal.
“It’s going to cost us,” he said. “But we voted… it’s time for us to pay for it.” Board President Timoteo “Tim” Juarez, Jr., agreed that, “now is the time.”
Trustee Juan Alvarez also tried to sway the vote for approval by adding that with the salary issue addressed, they should be bold enough to take necessary steps to meet the needs of the campus and district. Though he was surprised about the dollar amount, he said he was sure that the board had “plenty of fund balance” and was at “a great place in time to take the recommendation.”
Trustee Brenda Spillman argued that in doing the construction for the courts, they would also have to focus on other extracurricular activities, including bathrooms for other sports fields.
The vote failed with a 3-3 tie.
During a closed meeting last month, three board members, Spillman, Munoz and Board Vice President Susan Brooks, walked out at different times. While addressing issues regarding Policies and Code of Ethics this week, Alvarez asked them pointedly whether they were in possession of drugs or if they had broken the law, wondering why else they would leave the executive session with their attorney present.
Both Spillman and Munoz denied the allegations, explaining instead that they walked out because they “did not like where the conversation was going.”
The conversation then heated up as Spillman reminded that Alvarez himself has been guilty of walking out of a closed session, and Alvarez responded, “I also don’t say things that can be considered racist.”
Juarez agreed that the board should have training involving ethics, member actions and keeping the board focused.
In other business, the Board received an update of the budget planning process for the upcoming fiscal year.
Budget projections show an increase of 103 in average daily attendance, as well as an assumption of local property value increase of 5 percent. The estimated ending fund balance as of June 30 will be $15,847,744.
Considerations that led to this budget planning shows a 6 percent increase for TRS Active Care 2 employee health insurance at an estimated cost of $312 for 508 employees, or a total of $158,496. Also included in the budget planning is a general pay increase for all employees.
The next budget workshop will take place April 23. On June 25 there will be a public budget hearing and budget adoption.
Since they have no state testing and are not rated by TEA, Carver Kindergarten’s Campus Improvement Plan highlighted their success with small group tutoring, learning strategist support, Reading Buddies partnership with Pride High School and weekly library and counseling classes. The campus will continue to strive towards excellence by addressing individual needs, conducting monitoring conferences with teachers, individualized tutoring plans and formal and informal evaluations. Even though they will not have STAAR testing, they will still have workshops to prepare students.
In brief news:
Partnership with Sodexo Services of Texas Limited will be renewed for a one-year term starting July 1 and ending June 30, with option for four additional terms at one year each.
The Lockhart ISD 2012-2013 School Calendar has been approved to have no February holiday or early winter break. It was decided that this was the best balance of semesters to keep graduation scheduled in May, rather than in June.
A grand total of $128,080 has been approved for the 2012-13 Capital Outlay for Purchase in 2011-12.
M-Tech Building Services, Empire Roofing and an electrical/mechanical engineering consultant have been approved to request qualifications and enter a contract for various constructions for Navarro Elementary, Lockhart High School and Adams Gym roof replacement.
Recognitions were given to Carver Kindergarten and Bluebonnet Elementary Volunteers, School Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) Volunteers, Healthy High School Challenge Winners, Future Chef Participants, and 2012 H-E-B Excellence in Education Awards State Semi-Finalist.
Approval of the last meeting’s minutes was delayed due to Alvarez’s stated confusion about what was happening. He said he was seeing a lot of holes in the readings, so the issue has been pulled until the inconsistencies can be resolved.
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 simulcast via the Internet at www.lockhartisd.org. They are also rebroadcast periodically on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.