Texarkana Independent School District Board of Trustees talked middle school curriculum, construction, election cancellation, snow days and land purchase during their regular session on March 17, 2015.
Trustees approved the competitive proposal for construction of the Sixth Grade Center at Texas Middle School. “Altech, Inc. scored highest on our bid proposal work sheet,” commented Casey Nichols, Executive Director of Support Operations. “As a school district, we have an extensive history with Altech and look forward to working with Billy Roy and his team in building the facility.” Total bid on the project is $7.52 million. Funds will be provided through the $29.9 million bond that was voter approved in November 2014. Past projects for Altech with TISD include Morriss Elementary School, Texas High School Math & Science Center Building, multiple additions at Nash Elementary School and numerous elementary campus renovations.
Also approved was the Texas Middle School Program of Studies and Course Description Guide for 2015-2016, which provides information on 138 courses offered to middle school students. The guide also highlights two innovative academies which offer students the opportunity to explore, investigate and pursue their interests and aptitudes through the lens of IDEAs (Innovation, Design & Exploration of the Arts) or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math). “With technology as a focus for TMS, our academies provide cutting edge courses that engage students in robotics programming and design, mobile application development, game programming and design, critical decision making and problem solving,” said Lori Ables, Director of Secondary Curriculum & Instruction. The TMS Program of Studies also provides 26 Pre-Advanced Placement courses and 10 courses in which students may earn high school credits while enrolled at the middle school.
In other business, Trustees approved the cancellation of the May 9, 2015 Trustee Election due to all candidates being unopposed.
“We are blessed to have seven dynamic representatives from our community leading TISD towards excellence,” shared Paul Norton, Superintendent of Schools. “Their collective efforts continue to drive the district in providing a superior education that inspires, challenges and engages each student through a wide range of opportunities. I am pleased to have Paul Miller, Bill Kimbro and Amy Bowers continuing for another three years in their respective roles.”
Approval was given on amendment change to the 2014-15 district calendar due to inclement weather during the past month. Originally, TISD had scheduled May 22 and June 8 as their bad weather days. The amended change will now have students attending a full day on Thursday, April 2 (previously a half-day), a half-day on April 3 (previously a student holiday) and attending the full day of Friday, May 22. Only the first two days missed for any reason must be made up according to Texas Education Agency. Districts are allowed to file a waiver for the third missed day of school. TISD has submitted their third day waiver and anticipates that it will be approved.
Lastly, Trustees approved a resolution to purchase property for the new elementary campus that was approved in the November 2014 bond election. Approval of the resolution allows the Superintendent to begin finalizing a sale contract with the property owners.
“My hope is to finalize our contract within the next couple of weeks,” said Norton. “Once that is finalized, we will then start the same process that we have been doing with the Sixth Grade Center in terms of working with design and construction in order to ensure that students are walking through the campus doors in August 2016.”
Property for the new elementary school includes 15 acres off Gibson Lane near the southwest corner of the Encore Waggoner Creek Apartment Homes. The school is expected to serve approximately 400 students in Pre-Kindergarten through Fifth Grade.
“Throughout the bond process and proposal, TISD talked about the need for a new elementary campus toward the west end of the district due in part to the continued growth of Texarkana toward the west,” stated Norton. “We evaluated 11 different properties since January in order to determine the best location for our new elementary school. I believe this location meets the needs of the district’s west end and prepares TISD for continued growth as a school district.”