During the Tues., Nov. 17, 2015 regular session for Texarkana Independent School District Board of Trustees, members conducted a public hearing on Schools Financial Accountability Rating System (FIRST), amended Policy EI (Local) on Academic Achievement, approved the 2015 Audit Report and the Texas High School Program of Studies & Course Description Guide and were updated on construction for the Sixth Grade Center at Texas Middle School and the new elementary school.
Nanette Power, Executive Director of Quality Assurance, led the Public Hearing on Schools FIRST and shared with Trustees that TISD received a “Passed” rating for the 2013-14 fiscal year.
“This year the FIRST rating system was amended to include only seven indicators worth 30 points with a rating of pass or fail,” shared Power. “TISD earned 30 out of 30 possible points. I am proud to report that TISD has received the highest ratings possible since the inception of this report 13 years ago.”
Schools FIRST, a financial accountability system for Texas school districts, was developed by the Texas Education Agency in response to Senate Bill 875 of the 76th Texas Legislature in 1999. The primary goal of Schools FIRST is to achieve quality performance in the management of school districts’ financial resources.
In other business, Trustees approved the amendment to Policy EI (Local) which will, effective the 2016-17 school year, award credit for both semesters if a student’s cumulative score is a 70 or higher after averaging both semesters of the student’s grade. Students must have a minimum semester grade of 60 before cumulative averaging can be considered. Currently, students are awarded credit by the semester if they meet the satisfactory state required passing standard of 70 or higher.
Mason Andres, CPA with the firm of Thomas & Thomas, LLP presented the Audit Report for 2015.
“For the fiscal year, the District ended with a fund balance of $14.3 million, an increase of $415,000 over the previous year. The fund balance at the end of 2014-15 was 26.3% of expenditures.”
Auditors gave a clean opinion with no findings on the District’s accounting procedures and determined that the District continues to maintain sound financial practices.
Trustees also approved the Texas High School Program of Studies and Course Description Guide for 2016-17
According to Brad Bailey, Principal of Texas High School, ten new courses were approved.” Courses include: Industrial Maintenance DC, Forensic Science Pre-AP, Digital Fundamentals (Apple IOS), Advanced Commercial Photography DC and Video Game Design 1.
“At Texas High, we are pleased to offer a comprehensive academic curriculum that includes 491 courses of which 25 are Advanced Placement courses and 78 are Dual Credit courses. This wide array of course options offers something for every student that will meet their interests and abilities while at the same time gives them the opportunity to complete college coursework while in high school,” noted Bailey. “Additionally, students have the opportunity to receive 21 certifications in a variety of career and technology courses which provides them with a great opportunity in the workforce for post-secondary career interest and success.”
Lastly, trustees were given a construction update for the new Sixth Grade Center at Texas Middle School and the new elementary school being built on Gibson Lane, both slated to open in August 2016.
“The Sixth Grade Center at Texas Middle School is coming along nicely and on schedule,” commented Paul Norton, Superintendent of Schools. “We have completed all site preparation, grading, foundations, site utilities, storm drains, paving, structural steel and metal building construction. At present, we are under the roof so our hope is that it will be smooth sailing for everything to be done and the doors open come August 2016.”
The new facility will include a total of 65,800 square feet and will house 23 student classrooms and seven student labs for a student capacity of 700. Other lab areas included will be for Art, Music, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Academy and IDEAs (Innovative Design & Exploration of the Arts) Academy along with a Research & Design Center/Library, Cafeteria and Kitchen. The exterior brick, metal wall panels and metal roof will have similar stylings and colors as the existing middle school building and will feature covered walks for car and bus pick-up and drop-off. The interior will be very modern with a technological feel using metals and in colors of grey, cream, green and orange.
“Our newest and ninth elementary school will be located on 15 acres off Gibson Lane near the southwest corner of the Encore Waggoner Creek Apartment Homes,” continued Norton. “With a total of 67,800 square feet, the school will serve students in Pre-Kindergarten through Fifth Grade and will feature a pod design for extended learning spaces and student capacity of 400.”
Included in the design are: 22 classrooms; Research & Design Center/Library; Media Center; Art Room; Gymnasium; Cafeteria and Kitchen. The facility has been designed and positioned for add-on space to accommodate an additional 300 students for future enrollment growth. “We will be defining the attendance zone within the coming months and anticipate accepting student applications in the Spring of 2016 – only four short months away.”
The final portion of the construction update was on Gibson Road. “We have enjoyed a wonderful partnership with the City of Texarkana, Texas and with land donors Mr. & Mrs. Joe Crane, Mr. & Mrs. Charles Iverson, Mrs. Brenda Raney and Mr. Ray Walsh,” said Norton. “Through this partnership, Gibson Lane is being extended for a better thoroughfare for parents coming to and going from our elementary campus.”