Superintendent Collins: SCISD insulated from worst of state’s financial problems
Schleicher County ISD is not facing a financial crisis, Superintendent Billy Collins stated during Monday night’s school board meeting. His comments came as the trustees reviewed the district’s financial reports and discussed cuts that the state legislature might make to school funding.
“We are a long way from pushing the panic button,” Collins said. “We’ve made good decisions here and budgeted very conservatively. We will be okay.”
Collins noted that Schleicher County ISD is a Chapter 41 or “property-rich” school district, and as such, is likely to fare much better than other district’s across the state.
Collins went on to say that the last thing he wants is for the district’s teachers to be concerned about their jobs when they should be concentrating on the students in the classroom.
“So far, all we have out of Austin is a lot of speculation...a lot of Chicken Little, the sky is falling stuff,” Collins stated. “The people of Texas, and the legislators in Austin understand the importance and are generally very supportive of public education. Let’s wait and see what actually comes out of the legislature...I don’t think it will be nearly as drastic as some people have predicted.”
Collins went on to explain that he and Financial Director Ray Ballew spend a lot of time battling with the bureaucracy in Austin in order to receive money owed to the district. He noted that they have found some transportation funding that the state has owed to Schleicher County ISD for more than five years.
“It’s in the neighborhood of a hundred thousand dollars,” Collins said. “I’m not going to count it as ours until we have it in the bank, but I think we finally got in contact with the right person.”
Monday night’s meeting was held in the high school library with trustees Kurtis Homer, Leanne Higgins, Berta Nicholson, Kriss Griffin, Lupe Sanchez, Robert Jay and Kirk Jones in attendance.
Luann Sims addressed the board during the public comment, section of the agenda and said that she thought that it is not appropriate for the school board to be considering buying or building a house in the current financial climate. She noted that local businesses are bearing a larger burden and suggested that money the board is thinking of spending on a house could be better spent on teacher salaries.
Board president Kurtis Homer thanked Sims for her input and said that he was pleased when members of the public attended meetings.
Interestingly, following an executive session at the conclusion of the meeting, the trustees voted unanimously to rescind the decision they made last month to contract with T4C Construction of San Angelo to build a new home for the district. The trustees then authorized Superintendent Collins to explore other unspecified options and to return with a recommendation for the board.
In other business, Billy Collins explained that the district’s total enrollment was 586 on February 4th, an increase of two students over last month’s report. Collins then provided two proposed calendars for the 2011-12 school year. One of the calendars was almost identical to the one SCISD is currently operating under. The second calendar included more days off during the school year, but extended the spring semester into June.
Collins said that several committees will review the proposals and urged the trustees to do the same. He said he hoped the board could adopt a calendar at their next meeting.
Collins then noted that the EHS girls basketball team qualified for the playoffs for the first time in several years. He introduced athletic director Danny Wilhelm, head girls basketball coach Benny Lockhart, assistant girls coach Christi Collins.
The board congratulated the coaches on a job well done and wished them well in the playoffs which were set to begin on Tuesday night in Fort Stockton.
EHS principal Robert Gibson then praised the accomplishments of high school students who participated in a recent UIL academic meet in Sonora, as well as one held here last weekend. Gibson also complimented high school and middle school faculty members for their work in conducting the local meet.
Ray Ballew then reviewed the district’s financial reports, which were approved by the board. The trustees also approved the minutes of the January 10th meeting.
The trustees then adopted a resolution titled, “Make Education a Priority,” which will be sent to State Representative Harvey Hilderbran and State Senator Robert Duncan.
The board next approved campus and district improvement plans and adopted Policy Update #89, as recommended by the Texas Association of School Boards.
The board then went into executive session for the discussion of personnel matters and real property. When they emerged from behind closed doors, the trustees voted to extend new administrator contracts to campus principals Robert Gibson, Kara Garlitz and Chad Wright. They also extended program director contracts to athletic director Danny Wilhelm and Band Director Jerry Barker. Non-professional administrative contracts were also extended to technology director J.D. Doyle and finance director Ray Ballew.
The next meeting of the SCISD board of trustees is slated for Monday, March 21, 2011 in the high school library.