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Woodville Board recognizes Woodville’s STAR campus, Teachers of the Year

by Janette Blackwell

In its February 13 meeting, the Woodville ISD Board of Trustees honored Woodville's STAR (Superintendent's Team for Academic Recognition) campus and district Teachers of the Year. These outstanding educators were nominated and selected by their peers. Board President Trey Allison and Superintendent Glen Conner presented plaques for the designation to Kristy Miller of Wheat Elementary; Angela Brown of Woodville Intermediate; Laren Allen of Woodville Middle School; and Srinivas Gambhirrao, known by students, peers, staff and administrators as "Mr. Rao," of Woodville High School.

Laren Allen also represented the district as its Teacher of the Year. Board members voiced their thanks, from their perspectives both as parents and as Board members, for the teachers' hard work, effort and dedication. President Trey Allison expressed his appreciation in a statement to those receiving the honors, saying "It takes a special person to be a teacher. Teaching is not just a job, but requires commitment. Thanks for your commitment to our kids and our community." He also underscored the commendable effort that these teachers "pour into our kids."

Cody Jarrott presented the January financial and investment reports, which the Board voted to approve. Jarrott also updated the Board on collected tax revenues, which fund the District, in his January Tax Report.

Additionally, Jarrott commented on the necessary expense in leasing, maintaining and using the administration's and campuses' 24 copiers. In response, Superintendent Conner noted textbook publishers are trending toward combined workbook-texts, foreseeing the next move being toward e-books. Moving to the blended workbook-text appears to be a cost-effective solution, as it will offset much of the expense of copying homework, papers, handouts and tests for classroom use, while the cost is comparable to that of traditional textbooks.

Superintendent Conner submitted a draft of the 2014-2015 school calendar for the Board's review. Last minute TEA testing date changes require coordination with other area districts before the calendar is finalized for Board approval.

Mr. Conner also presented the 2012-2013 School Report Card for the Board's information. The TEA produces the report for the purpose of each school district's accountability to the public. The report is sent home with each student's progress report for parental review and is available to the public.

The Board considered and adopted a resolution to phase out the use of dual assignment form contracts within the Woodville ISD. Dual contracts, for example 'teacher-coach' or 'teacher-band director', have existed in the district since the early 1990s, and the coming school year will begin their phasing out and replacement in favor of straight teacher contracts. Superintendent Conner assured the Board, "This will have no impact on the contracts themselves or their content, or on the teachers; it is only an administrative change." The measure, approved by the Board, will entail modification of about 20 currently existent contracts district-wide. President Allison stated that the reasons for the needed change to straight teacher contracts are spelled out in the resolution itself, as follows:

"... due to legislative budget cuts, the tightening of school district budgets, and the increased emphasis of the State of Texas on accountability by school districts; and in an effort to increase the flexibility of the administration in handling personnel matters."

In his monthly Superintendent's Report, Conner discussed the following updates:
Upgrades on campus and district facilities are nearing the finish line. Integral's work is in its final stages, although it was delayed by recent inclement weather. The remaining portion of their work involves access control programming issues and finalizing controls at the Summit and other school gyms. The District received rebates from Entergy for the air conditioning upgrades, and is applying for a rebate for the lighting upgrades.

The third six-week period Attendance and Enrollment Report revealed decreased attendance of 1.5 percent in contrast to this school year's first six weeks, probably due to the January flu season. Student attendance is a major factor in determing the amount of funding the District receives from TEA. Current enrollment stood at 1,329 as of January 17.

Recent snow days will be made up on Monday, February 24 (from Winter Break) and on Friday, April 18 (Good Friday) to keep from extending the school year.

The much-anticipated Lamar partnership for workforce preparation is facing delays, due to Lamar's funding changes, and will start at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year.
Conner presented a new opportunity for the District related to drivers' training. Talks are in progress about partnership with a contractor, which presently conducts the classroom portion of drivers' education for various area districts, and which is qualified and equipped to facilitate a driving school. The contractor only needs a room to conduct after-school classes, and will employ local teachers who have the Drivers' Education certification to teach, prepare and train students. The contractor will assume all liability pertaining to the program. The State of Texas written driving exam will be administered, the contractor will conduct driving practice in a company vehicle customized for drivers' education, and will arrange for students to take the DPS driving test at the end of the course. A contract has not been agreed upon, but Conner is hopeful that in May or June of this year the first group of students may begin the training. Conner emphasized that the District will only provide classroom space for the course and that there will be no liability on the District's part. The contractor will charge students for the program – possibly, but not firm – in the neighborhood of $150 or less. In contrast to the $80 to $100 cost for parent-directed driver's training, this program will simplify the process for parents and students; save families the time and effort of completing confusing and detailed paperwork; and prevent the frustration of keeping logs of driving time. Beyond Woodville ISD students or Tyler County residents, the program will be open anyone in the public who meets DPS' eligibility standards. The program launch date is dependent upon the availability of instructors. Conner continues to work out details with the contractor.

The Texas Department of Agriculture approved Woodville ISD for their Child Nutrition Program, in which the agency will administer and fund breakfast for all elementary students starting with the 2014-2015 school year. TDA requires districts to document that more than 80 percent of students within the district meet the TDA definition of disadvantaged. Implementing the program will affect Woodville ISD transportation and student morning drop-off, for example, and numerous schedules must be adjusted before the program may be implemented.

House Bill 5: According to Conner, we requested a new requirement, which will provide a strong selling point for the quality of education the District offers, documenting the areas in which we excel. Committees of community members and students who are engaged in the education process will evaluate the campuses, and the District administration will calculate and submit the cumulative scores, which are due in August. Additional programs to be assessed include fine arts, wellness and physical education, community and parental involvement (which provides an opportunity for parents to assist students with tutoring and for student community service projects), 21st century workforce development, second language acquisition, digital learning environment, drop-out prevention strategies, education programs for gifted and talented students, English as a second language. Overall, evaluating and reporting on these programs will provide a good public relations tool for the District while helping us to see, from a community and parental perspective, what we do well and what we can do better.

A significant number of students are participating in this semester's IUL contests. Competitions include math, science, speaking, one-act play, tennis, golf, track, baseball, softball, building trades and family and consumer education. The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is scheduled for March 4-23, when Woodville students will compete with students across the state showing their livestock.