Posted Date: 01/18/2019
Livingston ISD Board President Ben Ogletree opened the December School Board meeting with student and staff recognition. Livingston Royal Brigade’s Band Director Lane Palmer recapped the success of the band during the fall semester. The Jazz Band earned a 1st division award at the Texas Renaissance Festival, the marching band won sweepstakes at the UIL Marching Contest which resulted from earning a first division rating from each judge. Palmer introduced students who were named to the 2018-2019 All-Region Band and those advancing to Area Band. Coach Christina Jaques was inducted into the LISD Apple Corps. Jaques is the Head Volleyball and Head Softball Coach at Livingston High School.
Eric Carpenter, CPA from the firm of Axley and Rode presented the findings of the 2017-2018 Financial Audit which was a clean, unmodified opinion.
LISD Chief Curriculum Officer Janan Moore presented the GEAR UP Report. The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) initiative is one of the largest and most effective programs focused on increasing the college and career readiness of low-income students in communities nationwide. GEAR UP is a highly competitive grant program in cooperation with University of Texas Austin that helps empower local partnerships comprised of K-12 schools, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and community organizations to achieve three strategic goals: (1) increasing the postsecondary expectations and readiness of students; (2) improving high school graduation and postsecondary enrollment rates; and (3) raising the knowledge of postsecondary options, preparation, and financing among students and families. Livingston ISD is one of five partner schools awarded this grant in the amount $1.8 million over a 7-year period. Staff members have attended several workshops, and Livingston ISD has been named an official partner. This grant is to be used for 6th and 7th-grade students which is approximately 600 students. The program encourages the success of these students and follows their high school career through the first year of college.
LISD Superintendent Brent Hawkins presented information about Pre-Kindergarten expansion analysis. Universal Pre-Kindergarten presentation was listed as one of the board goals. In order to move ahead with an expansion plan, a decision would need to be made in early Spring. Three years ago the district expanded from a Pre-Kindergarten half day to a full day program. State funds were designated to help pay for this expansion. These funds are no longer appropriated by the state so the district has to fund the existing program. The current Pre-Kindergarten program has 181 students in ten classrooms. Hawkins presented options to fund the possibility of a Universal Pre-Kindergarten program.
Hawkins also presented an overview of District Realignment to make a more effective systemic model. In order to be as efficient as possible for students, a campus model of Pre-Kindergarten through grade 5 is commonly used. An Intermediate campus housing 4th and 5th grades is uncommon across the state. To make this change would create four elementary campuses in the district. The current Livingston Intermediate School would not be good for four-year-old students with the location of the cafeteria, gym, and music on the first floor and the remainder of the classrooms on the second floor. The proposal of a primary campus housing Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten and three campuses of 1st through 5th grades would allow students to be less stressed when moving from contained classrooms to transitions. There are also benefits for 1st grade and 5th-grade teachers on the same campus allowing the teachers to communicate about teaching objectives and understand when and how specific concepts were introduced. This realignment would allow a more evenly weight of accountability. The change could be managed by using the Pine Ridge campus as the Primary School where there are 28 classrooms with restrooms. The current 4th graders would be divided where one third would remain at the location of the Intermediate campus next year. The remaining two-thirds of the students would go back to either Cedar Grove or Timber Creek campus, whichever campus they attended third grade. In order to implement this plan Title I programs would have to be notified, Food Service programs would have to be notified and new campus codes would have to be ordered to make this transition for the 2019-2020 school year. Hawkins feels, “Our district and our obligation is to the students walking into the classrooms. We have to ensure a balance of staff.
Items approved under the Consent agenda included the purchase of a CTE truck, a car and a work truck for the maintenance department. LISD Chief Financial Officer Ben Davidson presented the Quarterly Investment Report. The interest earned for last quarter of 2018 was $89,890.82. The district is earning between 2.16 and 2.27 percent on investments. Action items approved by the board was the Realignment of District Campuses, the 2017-2018 Financial Audit, the Quarterly Investment Report, and no motion was made on amending the District Pre-Kindergarten plan.