Hays CISD, Dripping Springs ISD, El Paso ISD, Leander ISD & Pflugerville ISD
Coverage between Oct. 25 - Nov. 5, 2021
Hays CISD invests in truck, tower and practice pad for Band
Hays Consolidated Independent School District Trustees unanimously approved the purchase of a truck, a band tower and a practice pad for their Band Program at a meeting Oct. 25.
Trustees authorized the purchase of a truck for use by the Hays CISD Band, not to exceed 300,000 miles or $85,000.
Hays CISD Chief Operations Officer Max Cleaver said the District had the opportunity to purchase two trucks the week prior to the meeting, but they were sold out from beneath them. Their search continues.
Hays CISD Trustee Esperanza Orosco brought up the issue of equity, because the Board had purchased a truck for Lehman High School prior, but Hays High School and Johnson High School Band Boosters had been footing costs for rentals, and refurbishing used trailers.
Hays CISD Trustee Will McManus said he is not opposed to the District having one truck and one trailer per high school, in order to keep things equitable. Anything extra, he said, should be paid for by Band Boosters or individual department funds.
“If they [bands] feel like they need more for a larger program … they should be responsible for that,” McManus said. “If you’re going to have beyond the minimum, that’s on you.”
Hays CISD Board President Vanessa Petrea said she agreed with McManus on that point.
As for the band tower and practice pad for Hays High School, Hays CISD Board Secretary Merideth Keller wanted to make it known she wanted the item added to the meeting’s agenda.
Keller blamed the Board and the 2017 bond for the problems facing the District’s bands.
“When, in our infinite wisdom, we took away their practice pad … and then we left the band tower dilapidated on the ground,” Keller said. “I feel terrible that we took it away, and then we were like, ‘Well, you have to just pay for all your own stuff.’”
Hays CISD Director of Fine Arts Patti Moreno said the practice pad, which had been paid for by Band Boosters and Department funds, had cost $18,472.
“My opinion is that we owe that back to them, to the program and to the boosters,” Keller said.
Keller also suggested reimbursement for the scissor lift rental, that the band had been using in place of the needed band tower.
McManus laid blame on the administration, saying they are responsible for identifying places of need within the District.
“The Board doesn’t have the opportunity to help if we don’t know,” he said. “It really saddens me that these students have gone this long without these these things, and honestly, I don’t think anybody on this Board or previous Boards even knew that it was happening.”
Petrea said she did remember when the Board took away the practice pad.
“We just really haven’t followed up … I’m glad this was brought to our attention,” Petrea said. “This should not have taken this long, and I’m sorry this happened.”
Dripping Springs ISD approves 2021-2022 SHAC members
Dripping Springs Independent School District Trustees unanimously approved 2021-2022 Student Health Advisory Council members at a meeting on Oct. 25.
The Dripping Springs ISD administration brought back an updated SHAC member list, which included student representation, campus administrator representation and representation from every campus, in alignment with Trustee suggestions from the prior meeting.
Dripping Springs ISD Trustee Dr. Stefanie Reinold said she felt like Trustees need to have a deeper conversation about how committees are chosen, and make it clear to the public.
“I just don’t want this to be an issue that kind of gets pushed to the side,” Reinold said. “It is a very big issue how parents are involved in the community, and I feel like it hasn’t been handled very well in the past.”
Reinold said she wanted to have that larger discussion at a future meeting.
Dripping Springs ISD Trustee Barbara Stroud said she wanted to make the distinction that SHAC is a committee that includes Board-appointed members, whereas most other committees are an administrative function.
“SHAC is kind of its own unique animal because the Legislature determined a few sessions ago … that a Board has to appoint a certain number of its participants,” Stroud said.
Stroud also emphasized the importance of following up with parents who wanted to be on the committee, but were not chosen for this school year.
Dripping Springs ISD Board Vice President Joanna Day thanked the administration for including all of the feedback from Trustees into the presented list.
“I know I had raised some concern about diversity and making sure that there was good geographical representation, and this list really does that job,” Day said.
El Paso ISD Trustees hold special-called meeting to review and consider applicants for superintendent position
The El Paso Independent School District held a special-called meeting on Nov. 2 to review and consider applicants for the El Paso ISD Superintendent position. No action was taken after Trustees met in closed session.
Leander ISD Trustees discuss committees, board operating procedures
After a lengthy discussion about committees and some disagreements, Leander Independent School District Trustees voted 5-0 to approve Board operating procedures, with Trustees Aaron Johnson and Elexis Grimes absent from the vote.
While Grimes was absent from the entire meeting, Johnson was only absent from this vote.
Leander ISD Trustee Anna Smith asked whether or not individuals had to have students in the District, or had to reside in the District to participate in citizen advisory committees.
Leander ISD Trustee Aaron Johnson said he did not think having students should be a qualifier for committees, but residence within Leander ISD should be.
Smith said she had noticed some members who did not reside within the District had been appointed to prior committees, and she wanted the Board to avoid the situation in the future.
“I do not want anyone who does not live in Leander ISD sitting on our committees,” Smith said. “I mean, we’re going down a slippery slope if we do that.”
Leander ISD Trustee Christine Mauer said she agreed with Smith and Johnson.
“We have community members who are involved, who I would be thrilled to have on our committees, but I do agree that they do need to live in the District, absolutely,” Mauer said.
Leander ISD Board Vice President Gloria Gonzalez-Dholakia said she agreed that it is important and valuable to have the participation of business owners in the community. She said she thinks it is essential to have a blend of parents and community members on committees.
Leander ISD Trustee Sade Fashokun posed the question of whether or not individuals can serve on a committee if they own a business in the District, but do not reside in the District.
Johnson suggested there might be an exception on some committees for those types of members.
“Those seem to me to be exceptions, largely,” Johnson said. “The rule is that most of these committees, and most of the work we’re asking them to do is really very specific to the Leander student experience and Leander finances, and it’s kind of inside the community.”
Gearing said for the Districtwide Educational Improvement Council (DWEIC), business members do not have to reside in Leander ISD nor operate business in the District, but that community members must reside in the District.
Ultimately, the Board decided to include language, indicating that committee members must reside within Leander ISD for the 2022-2023 committee appointments.
Board Operating Procedures
Leander ISD Board President Trish Bode said the purpose of the agenda item was to figure out how the Board will interact with one another, to avoid conflict and to work on common ground.
Johnson said he was concerned about an addition to the Board Operating Procedures that would allow the Board President to refuse to place an item on an agenda, if it had already been discussed two times prior, and it was also on an upcoming calendar for more discussion in the future.
“That just strikes me as bad practice,” Johnson said.
Bode explained that without the language, the Board could potentially discuss the same items over and over, and be delayed in moving forward with Board business, which she said could be problematic.
Fashokun mentions that Trustees can bring an item back the following quarter to discuss it further, to which Johnson said only works if it is not time sensitive.
“In my mind, if any two of you want to talk about something again that we’ve talked about recently, I’m OK with that,” Johnson said. “Let’s talk about it. That means that maybe we didn’t finish what we needed to do.”
“It says, ‘may,’ so the President doesn’t have to,” Fashokun said. “So, it goes back to whether you think the President would abuse it … or maybe whether there’s some lack of, I would’t say trust, but just …”
“This is new language that hasn’t existed before,” Johnson said. “So the question for me is, why do we need to add it?”
Gonzalez-Dholakia said it is important to add it because “there’s the other side of people abusing” by “requesting things to be on the agenda repeatedly, even when they have been discussed, and therefore holding up Board business and Board operations.”
Bode echoed that she saw the language as a means “to stop abuse of us not being able to get the work done.”
Smith said she hoped Bode and whoever the next Board President is could be trusted.
“That’s why we elected them to be the Board President,” Smith said. “We would trust them enough to use good judgement.”
Fashokun said it goes back to effective governance.
“We just have that good faith and belief in each other, that people are not going to abuse this kind of thing on both ends,” Fashokun said.
Smith said if it was thought the Board President was abusing their power, the rest of the Board would hold the President accountable.
Johnson said he still did not get why the language was needed.
“I keep hearing ‘abuse’ right, as if this has happened before, and we need to take action to prevent abuse,” Johnson said. “In 10 years on the Board, I haven’t seen this abuse. … But if Board President needs this power to control her rogue Board members then, you know, maybe I’m in the minority on this one.”
“Aaron, that’s charged language,” Bode responded. “Let’s not go there.”
“So is ‘abuse,’” Johnson said.
Gonzalez-Dholakia said she had witnessed the abuse of repeated agenda item requests since she had been elected to the Board.
Shortly thereafter, Johnson got up from the meeting, just in time to miss the vote.
Pflugerville ISD Trustees vote to hold 2022 Graduation at field, despite survey results
Pflugerville Independent School Trustees voted to hold the 2022 Graduation event at the field in Pflugerville at a meeting Nov. 4.
Instead of approving the administration’s recommendation to rent the HEB Center in Cedar Park, Trustees voted 5-2, with Pflugerville ISD Board President Renae Mitchell and Board Vice President Tony Hanson opposing.
The final vote came after Hanson made a motion to approve the facility rental for the HEB Center, which failed, with Mitchell and Hanson voting in favor of the facility rental, and the other five Trustees opposing.
The administration made their recommendation for the rental based on results from a survey given to Pflugerville senior students and parents of senior students. With over 2100 responses from senior students and senior parents, a total 63% were in favor of the 2022 Graduation being held at the HEB Center in Cedar Park. Seventy-five percent of senior students and 55% of senior parents were in favor of the rental.