By Miranda Rogers
As the calendar year comes to an end, Lockhart Independent School District took a look back on campus performance and evaluated improvement plans to help the students grow and learn.
Vicki Head, assistant principal of Navarro Elementary, presented success highlights. The performance level for the school was identified with recommended scores in all grade levels in reading, fourth grade writing, and third, fourth and fifth grade math. She said the students achieved their goals through academic TEKS focus, small group tutoring, “Countdown to Math” programs and technology integration.
However, two student subgroups scored below the recognized level in science. Head proposed that to help these students in the future, they would focus on science vertical rating, forming teams for grades one through five. They will also analyze benchmarks to identify struggles and attend to particular needs.
Head mentioned that, while the mentoring had been done more by faculty last year, she would like members of the community to aid the students and perhaps give them a different outlook.
Members of the community have an impact on students, she said, when the whole community is buying into their needs and successes.
Presently, there are eight mentors at Navarro working with ten at-risk students, but Head said they have greater needs in that area.
When asked by the board members how the school was meeting the cross-section or diversity of the campus, she said the Hispanic community needs mentors that they can relate to, as well as male mentors for the many students without a strong male in their home. Mentors are encouraged to spend time with the students at least once a week, depending on what they can provide with their schedule.
Background checks and criminal history checks are done to keep the children safe.
LISD Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra explained that mentoring is about getting students to connect more to the school. He said mentoring is not just about expertise, but about the desire to be there for a child on a regular basis, and getting children to build and motivate themselves.
Puzzles and games, he said, can get students engaged in academic process, and students that were connected to an adult they can identify with can connect more with school. When asked about the numeric scores, Parra said, “Do we want to be the best? Absolutely… but I want us to be the very best campus we can be for our students.”
Plum Creek Elementary principal Evangelina Orta also presented the improvement plan for her campus.
Plum Creek enjoys exemplary scores in reading, math and science. What drives that success, Orta said, is the school’s guided reading program, the Drop Everything and Read (DEAR) time assigned to students and their utilization of reading software testing, with a test every nine weeks to see how the students are moving.
The school also has a science support class, where they examine questions to see how things were being presented.
In order to stay at their current level of excellence, Orta said the school will be incorporating a STAAR reading software test four times a year. This will identify what activities they have to work on to get ready for STAAR, the new standardized testing model that will be introduced during the next school year.
They will also be continuing the science support class, which proved to be very successful in providing readiness and supportive standards, as well as what vocabulary the students will need, and will tell the teachers what distracters they need to look out for.
A review of budget expenses showed that with roughly $7 million spent so far, the percent of expenditures was less, but comparable, to previous years. Much of the savings can be attributed to lower utilities and spending stimulus funds rather than general fund money.
In keeping a constant eye on the budget, the Board will review the budget planning calendar in December, and will perform a mid-year review of staff vacancies, long term facility needs and capital outlay needs.
It took two tries for the Board to determine how to cast their votes for candidates to the Caldwell County Appraisal District Board of Directors for the 2012 – 2013 term.
At the onset, Trustee Susan Brooks suggested that the Board allocate their 1,689 votes to three candidates, offering support to Tina Joseph (189 votes), Benny Hilburn (500 votes) and Alberto Perez (1,000 votes). The motion failed 3-3,
Trustee Tom Guyton followed up with a motion to allocate 1,000 votes to Joseph and 689 to Perez. That motion passed 5-1.
The Trustees agreed to consider requests for proposal on the construction of tennis courts on Lion County Drive, to replace the current courts located on the Medina Street side of the Lockhart High School Campus.
The existing courts, which have long been left out of budgetary improvements and have been a constant source of discussion for the Board, are in need of either repair or replacement, and trustees, coaches and tennis team members have expressed a desire to have the courts expanded so LISD can host tennis tournaments.
Pending receipt and approval of the RFPs, the Board agreed they will amend the existing fiscal year budget up to 9 percent to fund the tennis court project.
The divided board failed to reach an agreement, and hence did not appoint a seventh member to fill the unexpired term vacated by Chip Pittman this summer.
Nominees Rick Womble and Richard Mendez were both presented by board members as potential appointees, but both motions failed 3-3. No further action was taken on the matter.
The Board recognized several students, including: participants in the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority (GBRA) Keep Lockhart Beautiful Town Branch Clean Up; participants in the Bastrop Fire Relief project; and the 2011 National Center for Educational Achievement (NCEA) recognized Lockhart Junior High School as a “Higher Performing School.”
They also recognized four former LHS students who received diplomas during the November 2011 Graduation Ceremony on Monday evening.
The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees routinely 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 interested stakeholders are encouraged to attend.