By LIBBY CLUETT | Mineral Wells Index
Sporting Ram-pride red T-shirts at Tuesday’s Mineral Wells ISD school board meeting, the Travis News Team led the pledges to the American and Texas flags, followed by an apparently precocious presentation on their roles as TNT members.
Before launching into decision making and discussion at each MWISD board meeting, trustees, staff and those in the audience are reminded – by a team of students from each campus – why everyone has gathered. Each meeting spotlights a campus, during which students recite the pledges and share an aspect of the school.
The TNT is led by Travis teachers Patti Newsom, Gayla Quinn and Peggy Worthy. TNT students Chase Jordan, Courtney Jones, Shelby Bossaller, Emilio Infante Hernandez, Mackenzie Lawhon, Taylor Gary, Laura Campos, Luke Bullock, Jashawn McKinney and Zaniya Pruitt entertained as they informed the board of how they broadcast the news to Travis Elementary students. Members Celeste Santibanez and Karime Betancourt were not at the meeting.
Perhaps the biggest district news of the night – aside from the 839-to-622 bond passage, which trustees canvassed in a separate meeting Wednesday – came from Chief Financial Officer Paul Hearn who presented the Texas Education Agency’s 2011-12 Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, or FIRST.
Hearn reported that MWISD not only earned the top rating of Superior Achievement, but the district missed a perfect score by one point, with 69 of a possible 70 points. Superior achievement is awarded for districts with FIRST scores of 64 and higher.
The district lost one point because the indicator for debt-related expenditures per student was $350, explained Hearn.
“Our debt-related expenditures per student were $572.05, which is an improvement over the prior year,” he said.
The School FIRST is intended to ensure that school districts and open-enrollment charter schools are held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices and achieve improved performance in the management of their financial resources, according to the TEA.
“The system is designed to encourage Texas public schools to manage their financial resources better in order to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes,” states the TEA website.
Also at Tuesday’s board meeting, MWISD Public Relations Coordinator Karyn Bullock presented the November Partners in Education to companies that have worked closely with the district to enhance students’ understanding of local job opportunities and job skills.
The companies complimented Tuesday were:
North Texas Pressure Vessels Inc. Bullock said the locally-owned business “provided student tours, weld-test materials, training and even employment for our students.”
BFX Fabrication, located in Millsap, which presented weld-test instruction for high school welding students.
PECOFacet, which Bullock said, “Provided our students with tours, weld-test materials, training and employment for students.” Additionally, she noted that Leann Ridens, global employee relations and development manager for PECOFacet, has not only been involved in the training initiatives, but was involved with Career Day, co-op and job-fair programs at Mineral Wells High School.
In other business, trustees:
• Approved a resolution to rejoin the efforts of the Texas Taxpayer and Student Fairness Coalition, which will return to court in January to “defend gains and prove that even though some progress has been made, the equity and adequacy gaps are still large and still unconstitutional,” according to the Haterius.
• Received the October enrollment and attendance reports from Haterius, who said enrollment by the end of the month was 3,346 students. This resulted in a refined average daily attendance of 3,100.11 – a number that eventually determines the amount of state funding to MWISD.
Haterius also presented a historic view of enrollment by grades for the past five years. Total enrollment was 3,566 in 2009-10, 3,568 in 2010-11, 3,556 in 2011-12 and 3,485 in 2012-13.
MWISD attendance, overall, was 95.55 percent. Haterius noted that Travis Elementary’s 96.37 percent and Mineral Wells Junior High’s 96.04 percent were the two highest campus attendance percentages for October.
• Heard a report on community-student engagement and compliance from Jay Walsworth, assistant superintendent of student services and human resources. He explained that based on House Bill 5, each district must report to TEA a self-evaluation in the area of community and student engagement.
This new measure requires a local committee to establish performance criteria and ratings on programs such as: fine arts, wellness and physical education, community and parental involvement, the 21st Century Workforce Development, second-language acquisition, digital learning environment, dropout prevention strategies and educational programs for gifted and talented students.
Walsworth said this new rating and the FIRST will be reported alongside the district and campus performance ratings.
• Heard from Walsworth, for the district, and each principal on their respective campus improvement plans. As happens frequently, Lamar Elementary was listed last, but Melissa Murphy ended the reports in grand style, energetically announcing “after the recent election, we are making plans for a new campus.”
• Heard from Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Carey Carter on the state’s 2013 performance-based monitoring analysis system report for the district, which she called “one more piece of accountability the state holds districts to.”
While the district scored a numerous zeros and ones on the report, based on the new STAAR test, she highlighted areas, called indicators, where the district scored threes. A zero means the district is near its goal, while a three is further from its goal, she explained to trustees.
She focused on English as a second language, or ESL, math, reading and writing for grades three through sixth, which all had threes. Additionally, special education for the same grade levels, in all subjects resulted in threes.
Carter said she is working with Laura Pieper (for ESL) and Parisa Lerma (for Special Ed) to write a required plan for the district by the end of the week.
• Adopted changes to school board standard operating procedures.
• Reviewed the annual local district policy updates.