by Michael G. Maness
In a special session on Jan. 7, the Colmesneil ISD Board hired Elton Hightower as Interim Superintendent and accepted the resignation of Yvette Carlton. Carlton had been doing both that and the Elementary Principal jobs, and remains in the latter. Hightower had retired years ago as Colmesneil Superintendent.
The Board convened early at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21, with an invocation from Secretary Kenneth Adaway.
January was School Board Appreciation Month, and each board member had a specially tailored gift crafted from the Elementary School students. In the photo is Board President Curtis Pittman, holding up some candy creatively decorated into sticks of dynamite with the note, "A dynamite board member." Hightower noted the special "thank you" on the school's Web site (ColmesneilISD.net).
Carlton reported that staff development went well, and she was proud of the 96% attendance rate. She had challenged her staff and students to raise $10,000 for the Jump Rope for Hearts and Hoops programs. If they did so by Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, she and Coach Robin Grissom will spend 24 hours on top of the Elementary School building and welcoming all to school the following morning. She was delighted to accept Elijah's offer to reward twelve excelling second through sixth graders with A.R. parties at the restaurant.
High School Principal Walter McAlpin requested the Board's nod to proceed with plans for a student challenge in the spring to allow for the exemption from final exams. The detailed plan was supported by the teachers and carried a positive resonance with both the Board and Hightower. Among several stipulations like all fines paid and textbooks returned, the basic criteria for exemption included less than three absences for "A" students, two absences for "B" and one absence for "C" students.
Hightower gave a preliminary outline of his assessments since assuming duties, expressing gratitude for many apparent successes, including the advanced use of technology and the outstanding high school weight room. The 3-D printer supplied a part for a copier – amazing.
Hightower had several conversations with Region 5 administrators that caused them rethink their charges for several services that the school is no longer using. He further challenged the Region regarding Internet services and the school's critical leadership role in the local consortium regarding sale of water. Those negotiations and challenges from Hightower to the Region could save the school several tens of thousands of dollars.
Hightower also addressed several repairs of the cafeteria stoves and steamers with a fuller renovation down the line, which could cost as much as $40,000. He also expressed appreciation for Commissioner Mike Marshal's help in addressing the drainage problems at Lake Tejas. The restrooms and piers will be repaired, too, before the camp's reopening. In light of both current and pending maintenance issues, and the prospect of the Lake Tejas resident maintenance person's relocation, Hightower expected that a new maintenance position could be forthcoming, half-time for the lake and half for the school's needs.
The Board approved the Federal Grant Management Procedures that, according to Hightower, brought the district into compliance with the TEA's guidelines and approved Goff and Harrington as the school's auditors.
Because of the school break next month, Hightower encouraged the Board to move its next regular meeting to Feb. 25, which they approved.