Mineral Wells Index
— By LIBBY CLUETT
Mineral Wells ISD trustees watched the district's youngest students perform at Tuesday night's school board meeting, when the Lamar Elementary Little Troopers led the pledges to the United States and Texas flags and presented part of their Veterans' Day routine.
Each month a school helps open the meeting with a pledge and informs the board and public about programs the school has. Assistant Principal Jeff Smith said the Little Troopers have been around for almost 20 years, begun and continuously coordinated by Coach Angie McMillan. Smith said she got the program “off the ground” and the kindergarten and first-grade students have presented at ceremonies, despite people saying it could not be done.
“At Lamar, we like to instill the importance of having good character,” McMillan said. “Each year we are invited by Mary Creighton to take part in the annual Veteran’s Day Celebration. We have participated for 19 years now.
“At this young age the students must practice diligently to prepare for such performance,” she added. “Although many people are entertained by the rifle routine, it is our way as 'very young' citizens to say 'thank you' and show our respect to the men and women who have served in the armed forces.
“Showing gratitude to others is the true purpose of presenting this routine and our Little Troopers do an excellent job of doing so,” McMillan explained.
Trustees approved a contract with Palo Pinto County to oversee election services for the May 11 uniform election.
This will be a joint election with the City of Mineral Wells, which will take place at one location, the County's Mineral Wells Annex/Poston Building. Early voting takes place April 29-May 7, also at the Poston Building.
The estimated cost of the election is $3,955 and the county estimates 800 voters will turn out to cast votes on city and school district ballots.
MWISD trustees also approved Palo Pinto County Elections Administrator Judith Evans to serve as election judge and appointed Myra Johnson as the alternate judge. Trustees approved David Lee, Brian Reagan and Wayne Johnson as election clerks.
The school board has three at-large places up this year and two of those are contested. On the ballot for Place 4 are incumbent Scott Aaron and newcomer Paul Glenn Harrison, and for Place 5 are incumbent Mike Tincher and Sunny Gail Lee. School Board President Joe Ruelas is unopposed for Place 3.
Director of Technology Jeanette Barron gave her department's spring report, which included ways the district will save money by changing contracts for the 2013-14 school year.
Barron started her report by explaining that MWISD technology services is currently eligible for E-Rate funding at 82 percent, which means the district pays the remaining 18 percent of the price of services.
She said that campuses, such as Houston and Lamar elementary schools, where 75 percent of students qualify for free and reduced price lunches, E-Rate pays 90 percent of technology costs and MWISD pays 10 percent.
This has enabled those two schools to get infrastructure upgrades, including networks, switches and cabling, she said. Barron added that she hopes the district can qualify the other campuses for the 90 percent rate, which means more students will have to sign up for the free and reduced price lunches, even if they don't plan to eat the meals.
Barron reviewed for trustees the proposed changes with vendors. This would include changing Internet (wireless) connection to Nextlink for 150 mega-bytes per second – an upgrade from 100 Mbps – which would save $1,300 per month. She said she was able to get a better price through Suddenlink for the district's back-up Internet (fiber) connection. The district will also switch its Wepage subscription to Digital School Network/SchoolPointe and save over $3,100 per year.
In all, the changes in technology contracts would cost $12,137 per year – mostly augmented with E-Rate funding – down from $15,573 per year.
Barron informed the board that this plan includes the district adding a Google email service for students in grades six through 12. While the mail service is free, she said the district will contract with Gaggle for email filtering. “Monitored by humans,” she said this service “will notify us if there's something wrong.”
She said email is a standard now for students and that schools can help them learn how to use email. Barron said the district did a trial run with one junior high class.
In other business Tuesday night, trustees:
• Highlighted Palo Pinto County/Texas Farm Bureau, Mineral Wells Noon Lions Club and the Rotary Club of Mineral Wells as its March partners in education. Each if these groups provides scholarships for college-bound students and supports education in other ways.
• Heard Superintendent Gail Haterius give an update on the facilities study committee, which she said meets every Thursday for the next month.
She also informed trustees that attendance was down some in February, partly due to illness, such as flu going through the campuses. Of its 3,440 students, MWISD had a 94.17-percent attendance rate. Of the main campuses, Travis Elementary had the highest attendance rate of 95.49 percent, while Lamar Elementary had the lowest rate, with 92.53 percent.
• Heard a Level III hearing for David Neal. After the closed-session hearing, in open session, trustees voted to uphold a decision on timeliness, stating that the timeliness of the grievance was not met, and they upheld the administrative decision on reassignment. All other discussion was addressed in closed session.