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Harmony ISD Trustees

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Harmony has record enrollment;
HLR tax payer granted appeal
By JOHN SPARKS

 Meeting in regular session, Monday, January 21, the board of trustees of the Harmony Independent School District heard a report by Superintendent Jed Whitaker on a new record high in student enrollment for the district, and granted relief of tax penalties, interest and attorney's fees for a homeowner at Holly Lake Ranch. The board also heard a report from the High School Principal.

At the beginning of the second semester of the 2007-2008 school year student enrollment achieved a record high in the school district's history with 1,016 students enrolled, up 15 from the 1,001 at the end of October.

Gene and Jeannie Humphrey, homeowners at Holly Lake Ranch, appeared to seek relief from the penalty, interest and attorney fees on their 2006 tax bill. The Humphrey's argued that their failure to pay their 2006 tax to Upshur County (for Harmony School District) was due to a admitted clerical error at the Upshur County Appraisal District in processing the change of ownership in the home they purchased in Holly Lake. The former owners of the home (part-timers) were billed in Dallas, that billing was returned to the appraisal district and an errant (even older) address was serviced with the billing.

The Humphreys pointed out they were never billed by Upshur County for the 2006 taxes. They said that there was no similar problem with the tax billing from Wood County.

Mike Smith, Upshur County Assessor/Collector argued that the onus and responsibility is on the property owner. He advised the board not to honor this request for relief. He was backed up by John Bolster, an attorney with the county's delinquent tax collection firm.

Trustees, in a split 4-3 vote, approved relief to the Humphreys. They had been charged $604.10 in penalties, interest and attorney fees ($268.89 of the total). There have been numerous reports of similar problems in communications foul ups resulting in the imposition of penalties, interest and attorney fees by other Holly Lake Ranch property owners.

There are 3,682 parcels of property in Wood County that are subject to the Harmony ISD taxes. Many of these properties are in Holly Lake Ranch.

Dennis Glenn, Principal of the High School presented a report on students, teachers and programs on his campus. Glenn said beginning this year all high school students will be required to complete a 4 X 4 program, which means four required years of Math, Science, English and History to graduate. For college bound students, these courses will be offered in Advance Placement, which permits a student to test out of, and receive credit for college courses. This year, Glenn said, "the district will pay SAT test fees for all juniors." For the past several years, the district has paid fees for the Pre-SAT. He also said the high school is now offering a welding certification course and is continuing a pharmeutical assistant course which has been useful in gaining part-time employment to several graduates who have gone on to college.

Glenn said Harmony has long had a strong agricultural education offering. And, this year Harmony's FFA students were Texas State Champions. He also reported that Harmony seniors have already been awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships.

Superitendent Whitaker reported audit reports had been received from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas Department of Agriculture. The TCEQ audit recommended minor corrections to the water system. The D of A audit, which concerns food preparation and handling procedures gave the district high marks.

Trustees approved increasing the number of varsity cheerleaders from 10 to 12 and the number of JV cheerleaders to eight from six.

Two closed sessions were held during this meeting, one involving a student issue and the second to discuss the board's evaluation of the Superintendent. No action was taken on these issues during the public session.

The next regular meeting of the Harmony Board of Trustees will be Monday, February 18, 2008. A special meeting of the board can be called with 72-hours notice.

Last Updated on Friday, 17 April 2009 15:25  

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