From Staff Reports

The Mineral Wells ISD school board with its three new members will convene into a public session for the second time Wednesday, this time with plans to organize and name a new president in a meeting that should go much smoother than their first time together.

The new board got off to a rough start on May 24 when it decided to proceed with a specially called meeting. The meeting was called by former board president Dr. Ty Gore who was hoping, along with former board members Rodney Henderson and Dr. Moss Dickerson, to receive a fourth and deciding vote from Trustee Holt Price to change district policy and let 10 Mineral Wells High School seniors take part in graduation ceremonies. The 10 seniors had failed to pass their exit-level TAKS tests.

Gore, Henderson and Dickerson were voted off the board on May 15 in the MWISD elections, replaced by Scott Aaron, Mike Tincher and Joe Ruelas. However, when the votes were canvassed and the election certified several days later, the new board was not sworn in to their new terms.

That left the old regime in place, a board that had previously tried to change district policy and allow the 10 seniors to participate in graduation activities, but that effort resulted in a 3-3 deadlock, with Price unable to attend the afternoon meeting because of his job requirements with Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth.

Before the old board could meet one last time on May 24 to try and change graduation participation requirements, MWISD Superintendent Ray Crass spoke with state officials and the district's legal counsel and determined the new board could be sworn in at any time. Crass summoned the new board to his office the day of the planned meeting and had Aaron, Tincher and Ruelas sworn in, thereby preserving the district's policy since the new members were not in favor of changing the policy a week before graduation.

The district notified Gore, Henderson and Dickerson that afternoon that they were no longer board members effective immediately.

Since the special meeting was posted and publicly announced, new and current board members encountered a group of students and parents as they left the DREAM Academy's graduation ceremony the evening of May 24. The board decided to convene into open session to give those present an opportunity to address the board and make their feelings known.

That meeting turned somewhat unruly, as some lashed out, speaking out of order. Two in the audience were eventually escorted from the room by a police/school resource officer. After the meeting was adjourned, Trustee David Bullock grabbed a tape recorder from one person and threw it to the ground, shattering it, after he said the owner of the devise, Charles Thompson, shoved it into his face, striking him in the jaw.

Bullock and witnesses said they saw a student raise his knee and strike Bullock in the leg, causing Bullock to sternly warn the youth. The youth denied he intentionally struck Bullock, who said he was left a sore and bruised knee. No charges have been filed stemming from either incident. Thompson publicly requested an apology and restitution for his device.

With that, the new board is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the boardroom located at the District Services Complex, 906 S.W. 5th Ave. The board will organize itself with the election of officers. The board is also scheduled to discuss another issue, the one that ultimately led to the defeat of the three incumbents on May 15 - the bond construction project. The agenda calls for a workshop with the architect and construction manager at-risk Buford-Thompson Company.

The discussion is expected to center on the football stadium and athletics complex, which is under construction at a cost of $12.1 million. The complex was pitched to voters as a $9.5 million project, which was passed in a May 2006 bond election along with improvements to the junior high for an additional $3.5 million. Both items were adopted in one $13.95 million package.

The previous board agreed to deal with the project's cost overruns by removing the stadium's 7,000 seats from the bond project and acquiring them through a 15-year lease-purchase agreement.

While rains have thrown the athletics complex behind schedule, the beams and support of the press box structure are in place, and other construction work such as drainage improvements, land preparation and tennis court additions have taken place. Work has also begun on the junior high project - a new gym and eight new classrooms to replace portable buildings. That project bid under its projected cost estimate.

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