By Mollie LaSalle
COLMESNEIL – The Colmesneil ISD Board of Trustees held their regular monthly meeting last Thursday evening. The meeting was moved to the band hall, at the request of Superintendent Eldon Franco.
The first item on the regular agenda drew considerable interest and discussion. The district’s Pre-K Program was up for approval for the coming school year. Franco informed the board of the current year’s Pre-K numbers (shortened by COVID-19 closure.) “When the year began, there were 37 students enrolled in the program with one teacher and one aide, with 22% demonstrating readiness for kindergarten.” Expenses for the year were $247,920 with revenue at $201,456. Franco added “We are spending more money than we’re taking in”, and asked the board “Are we going the right way, are we going the wrong way, are we going any way at all”?
“This program is running in a deficit”, not improving, not increasing. We are actually spending way more money. Accepting any student that comes in is very excessive,” he said.
Elementary Principal Yvette Carlton went over the protocols for acceptance in the Pre-K program with the board. At the present time “the guidelines have changed; the whole point of the program is serving those children that qualify. In our area, this would be the economically disadvantaged, to give them a jump start that they wouldn’t get at home. So far, I have five students who have pre-registered (for the 2020-21 school year), and at this time only four of those qualify for the program.” Pre-K teacher Heather Seamans added that the program “should be geared more to those children who are not going to receive the jump start at home.” Carlton added that “our policy is that we serve those that meet the criteria.”
Franco added, “so when we go beyond policy, we stick our necks out, but if we stick to policy, we are ok, that’s what you (Carlton) recommend, that we follow the policy that is in place for the Pre-K program. “Carlton added that “Pre-K tests (recommended by the state) are given three times a year, at the start, in the middle, and at the end.” This determines the children’s readiness for Kindergarten”.
When all was said and done, the board approved the Pre-K program for the 2020-21 school year, with the understanding that “we follow the policy that is already in place.
Other items on the regular agenda included increasing meal prices campus-wide (for both students and faculty/staff), discussing a bid for waxing the floors and approving the 2020-2021 school calendar.
Also, on the regular agenda was a discussion of the preliminary 2021 Appraisal District Budget, and a discussion on the benefits of having an electronic board book, which carried a $4K initial expense and $2K a year, for board members. Franco added “It is a very user-friendly program that creates agendas, notices, and puts packets all in one place. Board members will have access to it almost immediately. This is something we are looking into in the near future, I want you guys (board members) to get used to the idea and get comfortable with it before it is presented for a vote.”
The board voted to raise meal prices by $0.10 campus-wide and accepted a $14K bid for the floor waxing as the floors haven’t been waxed in quite a while. This should be completed (in and out) in a week’s time, with the board recommending that staff be trained on how to maintain the floors once they are waxed.
In regard to the calendar, “we are going to stay put with what we have” according to Franco.
Regarding back-to-school plans, the state is not requiring students to wear masks; it is optional. Screening and temperature checks are also not required, as this practice is not legal according to TEA guidelines.
Franco also informed board members that the cameras that were set up around campus (specifically in the band hall and the shop) were in violation of district rules and have been disconnected. When the new school year starts, they will come on at the end of the day and be shut off at the beginning of the next day.