ITALY — The Italy ISD board of trustees meeting was filled with changes Tuesday evening as they swore in new trustees and said farewell to Tommy Morrison, outgoing board member.
Charles Williams, interim superintendent, presented Morrison with a plaque acknowledging his service to the school district the past seven years. Morrison, who did not run for re-election, said he appreciated all who supported him and said he felt a good man was coming in to replace him on the board.
Following the farewell, Hunt County Judge Darrell Cockerham administered the oath of office to Mark Stiles and to his son, Paul Cockerham.
The board then reorganized, electing Larry Eubank as president, Cheryl Owen as vice-president and Cockerham as secretary.
Following a brief closed, executive session, the board reconvened into open session and unanimously agreed to hire an assistant for the band program and named Tanya Parker as curriculum director, director of federal programs and testing coordinator. They instructed Barry Bassett, incoming superintendent, to write a job description for this multi-faceted position.
The board also unanimously approved joining the Ellis County Co-Op for shared services.
Williams said the cooperative has been accommodating and will allow the district to continue its special education classes at Italy such as the CBI classes at Stafford and the high school. They will bus all alternative education program students, however, to Ferris.
Bassett said this move will not save the district any money but said he had toured the co-op facilities and felt comfortable this move will safeguard compliance issues.
Trustees, following a length discussion, chose to go with Citizens National Bank as depository following a close proposal from First State Bank of Rice. The trustee vote was 4-2 with Owen and Curtis Riddle voting against the change.
Diego Garcia, with CNB, addressed the trustees, reminding them that his bank has donated about $34,000 to the school. He said CNB has awarded 26 Singleton Scholarships to Italy students at $8,000 per student. He said the bank invests its money into the communities it serves.
Mike Boyd, with First State Bank of Rice, said his bank offered the better interest rate and stressed that this was a bid process on the depository not a bid on contributions.
Tammy Gillespie, business manager, said the online services at First State Bank, the current depository, were top notch.
Stiles insisted they take it all into consideration and following the law, “the lowest or the best.”
There was apprehension about a required two-year $250,000 CD at First State Bank.
Garcia said CNB offered more options ranging from four weeks to a year.
Riddle said a banking official contacted some board members Tuesday and said he felt the calls were inappropriate.
Williams said the district received two donations this month – $1,247 from CNB’s Gladiator card and $5,500 from Stiles for a special education program and the National Honor Society’s annual trip.
Discussing finances, Williams said the state Legislature has stopped discussing education and felt a special session would be probable before legislators approve education spending in Austin. He said it could be August before the district knows for sure what they will be receiving from the state.
Stiles said he expects a 5 to 10 percent cut in education.
The board tabled an item that would allow a student who has not passed the TAKS test but had passed all other classes to earn a certificate of completion and walk across the stage at graduation.
Williams said he received TAKS scores and all seniors passed and will graduate.
Current enrollment as of May 10 is 587 students with a 96.37 percent refined average daily attendance.
Stiles said he wanted the superintendent to see why students were leaving the district.
Williams said he has talked with superintendents in the southern part of the county and said they were all losing students. He explained that, in economic downturns, many move closer to their jobs.
The superintendent named Felicia Burkhalter, librarian at Stafford Elementary, as Employee of the Month.
Williams said Burkhalter and her husband, Billy, have five children. He said she is a creative, dedicated employee that does an excellent job for the district.
In other business, the board approved minutes from two previous meetings, financial statement, utility reports and check register.
The board met at 5 p.m. to canvas votes from the March 14 election.