By Robert Neel
Larry Lasiter of Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong attended the Monday, Dec. 15 meeting of the Latexo ISD Board of Trustees to answer questions about plans for a high school classroom addition.
The addition would provide two science labs, two general classrooms, an art classroom and bathrooms at an estimated cost of $900,000. The plan presented by Lasiter was approved with some minor changes.
Lasiter also discussed plans for a FEMA shelter/multipurpose elementary school addition. The addition would provide a new wing attached to the current elementary cafeteria/gym.. It would be built to FEMA standards for a shelter and provide a room that could seat about 350 persons for various school events. The estimated cost is $500,000.
A FEMA grant has been applied for to assist with the cost of this addition. The plan presented by Lasiter was approved contingent on changes that may be required by FEMA.
On a related topic, Lasiter discussed the possibility of a new gymnasium with the board. This project would be contingent on approval of a $2.5 million bond issue. No action was taken.
Christian Merritt of Government Capital Securities discussed a possible bond program to finance upgrades and expansion of school facilities.
Merritt provided information to the board showing how a $2.5 million bond program could be financed at 4% interest for 25 years with no tax increase to the district. He also discussed various options and terms available for such a program. No action was taken.
Next, Elsom discussed an energy retrofit plan to upgrade air conditioning units at the elementary campus and lighting at various locations. The upgrades will save on utility bills according to Elsom.
Trustee Willie Patton asked, "Does the school have a maintenance plan to replace air conditioning units?"
"Yes, we have been replacing at least one unit per year. This schedule will not be enough with the current age of the units," Elsom replied.
Elsom further stated, "The cost of replacement per unit will be less by replacing multiple units at a time."
Elsom requested permission to issue a Request for Qualifications for a consultant to perform an Energy Retrofit Study for the district. The request was approved.
Justin Herbert of Hereford, Lynch, Sellars & Kirkham, Certified Public Accountants, presented a financial audit report for the year ending Aug 31, 2014.
The audit report indicated no "Significant Deficiencies" were found. Herbert complimented Business Manager Jo Lane and Elsom for "all their hard work" on the financial report.
Elsom noted that the general fund balance for the year had increased $260,012.
"Is there any particular reason for the increased balance other than hard work," Patton asked.
"Hard work and increased (number of) students which brought in additional funds," Elsom replied. The audit report was approved by the board.
The board also approved a contract with Skoollive Media Placement & Management Services. Skoollive will provide large digital kiosks for student information at no cost to the district.
Skoollive will retain 80% of the revenue furnished by advertising on the kiosks; the district will get 20%. The kiosks will be used to share school information.
Additionally, they will include sensors to detect gun shots and automatically call 911 if a shot is detected.
After an executive session to discuss personnel issues the board approved the following items:
• Creation of a new elementary teaching position.
• Resignation of Linda Easterly, elementary interventionist.
• Hiring of Allyson Delafield, high school technology.
• Hiring of Martha Zimmerman, subject to assignment.
In his Superintendent's report, Elsom provided the following information:
• The district's average daily attendance is currently 483.
• New backboards and wall pads are up in the gym
• Facebook and Twitter pages are up and running.
• LISD students raised $1,400 for the Empty Stocking Program.
• Elementary kids raised $700 for Jump Rope for Heart.
• Work is continuing on the new baseball field and it will be ready for the new season.
Elsom also discussed findings by the Texas Equity Center which is trying to resolve inequities in Texas school funding, and he discussed the 2013-2014 Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST) Report and provided the following statistics:
• Latexo's current FAST rating is 3.5 out of a possible high of 5.0. This rating is up from 2.5 two years ago and 3.0 last year.
•Composite Academic Progress Percentile is 73.
• Reading Progress Percentile is 92.
• These three rating are the highest for any school in the county.
• Math Progress Percentile is 39.
Lastly, Elsom stated that the Afterschool Centers on Education (ACE) Program Grant will end in May 2016. The ACE program has been funded by a five-year grant in the amount of $271,000 per year. The school may consider a reduced after school program at a cost of $90,000 if a new grant is not approved. No action was taken.
Board Members Denine Gibbins, Stacy Dise, Jennifer Patton, Chuck Curless and Willie Patton were present. Board memberThomas Gilson and President Ed Stockton were absent.