Colmesneil ISD considers options for reducing unexcused absences

by Michael G. Maness

President Curtis Pittman convened the Colmesneil ISD board Tuesday, Mar. 18, and Secretary Kenneth Adaway led the invocation.

After passing the consent agenda that included several previous board minutes, they proceeded to address several policy items.

The board approved an addendum to the Athletic Handbook, recommended by Interim Athletic Director Paul Veirs, that will allow the coaches to develop some "athletic" punishment for unexcused absences, like running, lifting weights or other exercises. Pittman liked the idea, and so did most everyone else. Board member Kenneth Graham voiced several concerns from previous experience, including warnings of how such a program might be manipulated.

Graham was clear and specific, and the board took the warnings to heart. Graham liked the idea, too, with proper supervision, equality, and specified recommendations. Interim Superintendent Elton Hightower will instruct the coaches accordingly.

Considering two policy updates, the board will likely decide at the next board meeting two recommended changes. Hightower recommended that teachers be evaluated annually and the standard for evaluating teachers every other year be lifted to only those teachers with a prior rating of "exceeds standards". He also recommended that para-professionals be evaluated annually.

The board approved the new school calendar for 2014-2015 that sought to add five teacher staff development days, per the request of Hightower and final approval from the TEA.

They approved the Instructional Materials Allotment and TEKs Certification that included the new science and math textbooks.

The board also approved the varsity baseball team staying overnight in Houston in preparation for their game the following day at the Minute Maid Park, under the supervision of Veirs.

Because the new superintendent would not be using the house provided by the school district, the board will adopt a rental/lease policy and put the home up for rent to district staff.

Elementary school Principal Yvette Carlton reported that the open house was not attended as well as they had hoped, but the book fair was a success, yielding money for trips and extra books for the classrooms.

High school Principal Walter McAlpin reported that their one-act play was ready to go, and there had been a lot of questions regarding the attendance guidelines previously approved.

Hightower reported that part of the HB-5 guidelines required the schools do a self-assessment with broad latitude given to the schools for their own development of an assessment.

Hightower identified one from the Star ISD, and they are in the process of tailoring their own version. Still to be determined will be those allowed to take the assessment, and Graham encouraged that the more that can give input the more accurately the assessment will reflect the reality of the school.

He also reported on the renovations at Lake Tejas, thankful to Tyler County Commissioner Mike Marshall who recently installed several long-needed culverts. The dredging of sand and new wooden docks will be ready for the upcoming triathlon, the date of which has been moved to April.

Hightower mentioned that the school will be able to move its depository contract's second year with Compass to the Citizens State Bank after the latter opens and becomes fully operational in June or July, as a result of his meeting with President Trey Allison and his assurance that the deal for Citizens' move to Colmesneil was nearly final.