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Hawkins ISD Board of Trustees

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Merit pay plan dies;
K-teacher to be added
By JOHN SPARKS

 Meeting in regular session Monday, December 3, trustees of the Hawkins Independent School District decided not to pursue a complicated and controversial merit pay plan proposed by the state and voted to seek an additional kindergarten teacher to satisfy state guidelines regarding student/teacher ratios. Trustees also heard a report regarding the district's performance in federal and state accountability systems and approved the audit as presented by Rutherford, Taylor & Co.

The Office of Texas Governor has established a fund for teacher incentive pay known as "District Award for Teacher Excellence" (D.A.T.E.). The State's Commissioner of Education has established guidelines for the award of these funds which will start in the 2008-2009 school year. The program reportedly has enough money to reward one in every six teachers throughout the state for improved test scores and other signs of student achievement. HISD complied with a requirement to submit a "notice of intent" by October 26, 2007 in order to receive additional information regarding the program's guidelines and requirements.

From the voluminous materials received from the state, it was determined HISD could receive $34,143 through the D.A.T.E. incentive program provided the district complies with the guidelines and provides a 15 percent ($5,121.45) match in funds the first year, 25 percent ($8,535.75) the second year and 35 percent ($11,500) the third year. There was no indication regarding the long-term continuation of D.A.T.E. The guidelines "recommend" an incentive award of $3,000 per teacher-which would mean 13 professional staff members at HISD out of approximately 100. However, the guidelines suggested that under no circumstance would an award of less than $1,000 be approved-which would mean the possibility that as many as 39 staff members could be awarded incentive awards.

Trustees engaged in a lengthy discussion of the possible pros and cons of the incentive program for Hawkins. In the end, the consensus among trustees was that while the program does provide for individual financial incentive, the "rules" related to eligibility are highly discriminatory and would be a threat to the teamwork concept that the trustees, the administrators, the teachers and all school staff members have been attempting to establish and cultivate.

Just as more than 50 percent of the state's school districts have already determined, HISD trustees did not suggest the administration pursue the D.A.T.E. incentive program any further at this time.

In a public meeting prior to the 7 p.m. meeting of the trustees, Debi Crawford, Director of Curriculum presented the results of HISD's federal and state performance evaluations for the 2006-2007 school year. Crawford said all federal measures related to the "No Child Left Behind" program were met. At the state level the Hawkins District earned an overall "Academically Acceptable" rating while the individual campuses were rated: Elementary-"Acceptable," Middle-"Recognized," and High School-"Recognized." Crawford pointed Hawkins exceeded state averages in virtually all areas and that particular gains were made by Hawkins students in targeted areas of math and science. Crawford said that 100 percent (44 of 44) of 2007 seniors were graduated last year.

With all three kindergarten classes exceeding the state guidelines (22/1) re: student teacher ratios, Superintendent Dan Rose asked trustees to approve the addition of a kindergarten teacher to the Hawkins Elementary School staff. The current 70 kindergarten students are in classes numbering 23, 23 and 24. Rose said he would hope to fill the position in time for the start of the second semester.

Architect Brice Davis presented an update of progress on the renovation and construction program saying punch lists are being worked on renovation work in all three campuses, while new construction has reached the phase where virtually all the work has moved to the interiors of the structures and is therefore less visible. The new classrooms for the elementary school and the cafeteria should be available the last week of January, while the new gymnasium is anticipated to be available for use in March.

Robert Lay of Rutherford, Taylor & Company, P.C., Certified Public Accountants presented the audit report for FY 2006-2007. Lay said his firm gave an "Unqualified" opinion-the best possible to the management of the financial and accounting procedures and records. The firm did note a brief period of shortage in depository security by a financial institution in February 2007.

In other matters, trustees:
- Heard an enrollment report of 752 students at the end of the second six-week grading period, the same number as last year at the same time. The Elementary School had 384 students compared with 395 in 2006-2007, while the Middle School had 169 this year and 152 last year, and the High School stood at 199 compared with 205 last year.
- Heard a report on completion of the High School gymnasium floor restoring and refinishing project and the continuing progress on the replacement of the floor at the Elementary School gymnasium.
- Formed a committee to evaluate fund raising programs, activities and vendors and recommend any policy changes. Trustees Dr. Shane Bogard and Wende Haney will serve on the committee along with representatives of each campus.
- Were advised of their individual status with regard to TASB continuing education and reminded of opportunities to participate in such programs.
- Adopted TASB Policy Update 80 concerning Employee Standards of Conduct, Arrests and Indictments, Convictions and other Adjudications, the board will consider crimes of moral turpitude to include acts constituting public intoxication, operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, or disorderly conduct. Further the employee shall notify his or her principal within seven days of any arrest, indictment, conviction, not contest or guilty plea, or other adjudication of the employee for a felony, or an offense involving moral turpitude as described in the policy. Violation of the policy may result in disciplinary action, including termination of employment.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the HISD Board of Trustees is set for Monday, January 14 at 7 p.m. A special meeting was also called for January 17 to review the Superintendent's evaluation. Additional agenda items can be added to that meeting with 72-hour notice.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 April 2009 16:22  

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