Latexo ISD To Provide ‘Hot Spots’ In Homes For Student Internet Access

By Gloria Neel

Increased access to the Internet and technoology is on the way to Latexo ISD students, courtesy of a $72,000 Texas Education Agency Lending Program Grant.

During the Monday, Sept. 15 meeting of the LISD Board of Trustees, technology instructors Lena Kelsey and Sandy Simpson provided the trustees with a technology update.

"A little update on what we've done in technology recently," Kelsey began. "We have Chrome books issued out to all 7th - 12th graders, and EliteBooks for a few."

She further announced the installation of Voice over IP (VoIP) phones in all of the classrooms for the teachers, the upgrading of all the xp machines to Windows 7, and implementation of a brand new school web site.

Simpson told the board that they tried something new for staff development this year by holding a mini-conference with fellow "techie" teachers and TCEA hosted sessions for their peers.

"We have class sets of Chrome books in grades 3-6, and Kunos for K-2," Simpson reported.
Kelsey and Simpson worked diligently on a grant which was approved by the board. With this money, the plan is to provide "hot spots" for homes without Internet access so those students have the same advantage as others who are already connected.

With that, Kelsey and Simpson presented Board President Edward Stockton an oversized check in the amount of $72,000.

Superintendent Don Elsom congratulated the teachers and commended them for bringing in over $120,000 in grant money the last three years.

The district also received a donation from the Latexo Youth Basketball Association in appreciation for use of school facilities last spring.

"On behalf of Latexo Youth Basketball I would like to donate this check for $2,500 to Latexo ISD," Stockton said as he handed a check to the superintendent.

Other board business included:
• 4-H was approved by the board as an extracurricular organization.
• The board approved an agreement with Crockett ISD to participate in the Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP) Co-op.
• Budget amended for stipend to Kelsey and Simpson for obtaining grant.
• Update on transfer students. A couple of classes are almost full.
After the action items on the agenda were addressed, principals from both campuses reported to the board.

Dr. Stacy Easterly, elementary principal, reported things are going well at the elementary campus. The PTO has met and scheduled this year's Fall Fest for Nov. 7.

High School Principal Adam Ivy praised Coach Jessica Cutshaw and Coach Mike Gain for the accomplishments in the cross country meets and volleyball.

He also reported "Meet The Teacher" was successful, especially the seventh grade orientation that was standing room only.

Elsom reported student enrollment is up from 502 last fall to currently 531 students with attendance at 98.21%.

He is waiting to hear back on a FEMA grant, and is working on this year's evacuation drill as well as preparing for fire drills. Fund raisers are in full swing, with fruit sales coming up next month.

After Superintendent Elsom discussed reimbursements, he had some information on the Equity Center, which leads a law suit against the state on funding.

"The cost of education index hasn't been updated in 20+ years," Elsom said. "Student enrollment in public schools is up 45.6% from 3.3 million to 4.9 million. Students qualifying for free and reduced lunch has gone from 1.3 million students to 3.03 million, which is up 129% increase and what's even more is that students enrolled in bilingual ESL programs is up 149% and the cost of education index has stayed the same." This is part of the reason the lawsuit has been filed.

The final item in open session was a power point presentation on building the vision and mission of Texas schools entitled "Creating A New Vision For Public Education in Texas." Elsom went through one of six parts entitled, "The New Digital Learning Environment".

After a 25-minute closed session, the board adjourned without taking any action.