09 21 2014

Board Discusses, CTE Expansion, TEA Ratings

By David Kapitan
Staff Writer
The Wills Point ISD Board of Trustees put in a long night on Tuesday, meeting for well over two hours to discuss the district’s proposed career technology construction project and reviewing the latest round of state accountability ratings from the Texas Education Agency.
Business opened with the trustees hearing from two representatives of the Wills Point Youth Sports Association (WPYSA), Jose Garza and Christi Davis, requesting that the board consider allowing the youth football team use of Ken Autry Davis Field for the upcoming football season.
During the public comment portion of the agenda, Garza and Davis each expressed their appreciation to the school board and administration for the use of the junior high field in the past, before raising concerns about several elements of the old field, most notably the proximity of the light posts along the sidelines and availability of suitable handicapped access.
Davis, the WPYSA president, and Garza, the WPYSA football commissioner, both assured board members that they would take whatever steps necessary to keep the fields in excellent condition, and adhere to any rules set forth by the district.
Board members will pick up discussion on the WPYSA’s request at next month’s school board meeting.
After approving the consent agenda for the month, including the approval of minutes for the previous month and bank balances on hand, the board picked up discussion on the proposed CTE construction project that had been discussed periodically over the past several months.
In June, Superintendent Suzanne Blasingame provided board members with an update on the proposed CTE expansion project at the high school campus, which would include the addition of an auto shop program, expanded health service and culinary arts classes.
Blasingame’s update on the CTE expansion in June included a preliminary blueprint of what the new facility could look like.
On Tuesday night, board members took another step towards the CTE expansion project, voting to approve a delivery method of the necessary work.
Given several options by presenter Kent Harris (an architect working for the district), board members opted to move forward with a Construction Management at Risk (CM at Risk) method, which essentially determines how bids are received for the project. Harris called the district’s choice “more hands on”, because it allows the school board to be involved every step of the way.
Following Harris’ presentation, the board shifted its focus to the recently released state accountability ratings for the district.
Amanda Wallace, Wills Point ISD Assistant Superintendent of Instruction and Accountability, explained to board members that the rating system classifying schools as being exemplary, recognized, acceptable, and unacceptable had been abandoned by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) in favor of a system that classifies districts as either having “met standard,” or “improvement required.”
According to the figures released by the TEA on August 8, the Wills Point ISD hit the necessary criteria to rate at the “met standard” rating.
Individual schools in the district performed equally well, with only Earnest O. Woods Intermediate falling short and being rated as “improvement required.”
Wallace advised board members that the rating of the Woods Intermediate would be appealed in the coming weeks for a variety of reasons, notably the TEA’s decision to change the rating method twice before releasing their findings.
In other business:
-Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Student Services Damon Davis made a presentation to the board on all the improvements made to facilities over the summer.
-The board approved the 2013-2014 budget, 2013-2014 tax rate, and certified tax values for both Kaufman and Van Zandt counties.
-The next board meeting has been scheduled for September 9.

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