By Will McClure
The Stamford ISD School Board held their regular meeting last Thursday evening where they discussed changes to district polices as well as a major change to the board itself. Before moving into the new business on the agenda, the board welcomed members of Stamford High School's Robotics Team, coached by Debbie Birdsong. The team, represented by Tamara Stremmel and Jacob Galvan, used what they learned in the robotics class taught by Birdsong to compete in the Area competition where they took third place in a contest that consisted of larger schools beyond the Class 2A level. The team brought and demonstrated two of their basic models as well as described the contest to the board.
"There's two different kinds of skills that the students learn through this," Birdsong said. "They learn building and design, but more mechanical...and then the other side of that is the programming. I just kind of give it to them and let them take it."
After the team demonstrated their robots for the board, Dr. Shaun Barnett moved the meeting forward by discussing the wooden boards on the windows. He told the board that the previous windows had been leaking, but the budget allowed the opportunity to replace them. However, due to issues with the company that would install the new windows including the new windows beginning to crack, the company would have to special order new windows which are expected to arrive and be completed a week from Monday, February 15. Dr. Barnett also reminded the board of the upcoming TREA State Convention in Ft. Worth from June 24-25 before moving onto the new business of the evening.
After reviewing the superintendent performance goals, which included reviewing and recommending a security update on all campuses with a special attention to the Oliver campus, meeting or exceeding the state average 80% of state accountability tests given and improve the college ready and post secondary preparation for students, the board approved to accept property bids for two vacant lots owned by the district. The board then moved to looking at possible revisions to SISD policy.
The first revision dealt with the school marshal/guardian plan, which would give the board the authority to designate certain individuals that would meet the criteria to become school marshals and be trained as such. Dr. Barnett stressed that the board would not be required to appoint these individuals, but would give them the ability to if needed. The board moved to approve the revision as presented and looked at one other revision concerning the district employees and the new concealed handgun law. Barnett stated that the state law is that it is illegal for any individual to enter a building or a school-sanctioned event with a concealed handgun, but as long as the individual was not in a building, they could legally carry a concealed handgun provided that they have a license to carry. However, while it is legal for the public to carry outside, the school district's policy continued to prohibit school employees from having a concealed handgun. The revision would allow these school employees to keep a handgun in their personal vehicle on school grounds, provided that they have a valid handgun license and the gun remains concealed in the vehicle. The revision would also allow the employees to have a concealed handgun in a school-provided vehicle for trips on school business, provided that they have a valid license, the gun is concealed and that there are no students traveling in the vehicle. After a lengthy discussion between the board members, the board decided to approve the revision as presented.
The board then moved to, regretfully, accept the resignation of school board member Sutton Page, who had previously moved outside of the district, making him no longer eligible to serve. The board will have to immediately appoint an individual to take over the unexpired term, as the timing of the resignation prevented the seat from remaining vacant until the next election. Dr. Barnett suggested Jason Hall, an administrator from Stanton ISD, to take over the term. Barnett mentioned that Hall's wife is a teacher for the district, but this would not be an issue, and that his family does reside within the district, making him eligible to serve. The board approved to appoint Hall to the unexpired term, and stated he would be present at the next school board meeting. Barnett did relate the special circumstances surrounding Hall's term.
"That position will come up for election at the next November meeting even though that is not the normal rotation," Barnett said. "So at the next election we will have two elections posted, one for whomever's up for election and the unexpired term. And then they'll have to come up again next year for the regular rotation."
After the board approved the district improvement plan and the standard operating procedures, the board looked at and approved the revision of the school calendar for March 11, turning that day, the Friday preceding Spring Break, into an early release for students at 12:00 pm so that the faculty can receive required training for standardized testing. The board then moved into a brief executive session, but not before setting the date for the next board meeting for Thursday, March 24, which will also serve as the last Thursday meeting for the year before the meetings return to Monday evenings.