RED OAK – The Red Oak ISD board held its meeting this week at the district’s newest facility, known as the Little Hawks Learning Center and the vision of Superintendent Scott Niven.

The center is a preschool for children ages birth through 4 years old.

“When Mr. Niven announced, in June, his plans to renovate a portion of the old Shields Elementary to a preschool, hire staff and get it operational, I thought it couldn’t be done,” board president John Hawkins said.

“This is an example of the high goals and standards he has set for various projects in the district and each goal has been met,” Hawkins said, describing the work and dedication to the project.

The center’s director, Laurie Pharis was introduced to the board and staff by Hawkins. “From the moment I got here, every department has been a tremendous help to get things ready,” Pharis said. 

“We’ve established a curriculum that when the children leave here, they will be ready for elementary,” Pharis said. “This will also be a very safe facility. All exterior doors will be locked with access only by an employee card key, with the exception of the front door. All doors and halls will be video monitored.

“Parents will be able to leave their children here and feel they are very safe. We will know who the parents of these children are,” she said. 

The center will be open from 6:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

“By extending the evening hours, we hope this will give parents adequate time to get to the center,” Pharis said. 

After the board meeting, the center was opened for those on hand to tour and see its features.

During the meeting, assistant superintendent of campus operations, Russ Schupman, updated the trustees on other district construction projects. On the new high school, Schupman reported 100 percent of the school’s load bearing walls have been completed.

“Mechanical, electrical and plumbing is 95 percent complete in portions of the school. Exterior windows, doors and stucco siding installation has begun,” Schupman said.

“We have completed the waterline loop around the school and are proceeding to where it will meet with the city’s new line,” said Schupman, with Niven adding that he received an e-mail from the city that the contract for the line has been awarded and the work should be complete in 120 days.

Schupman also described progress at the new Donald Shields Elementary.

“We are 98 percent complete with pinch list items to complete. The building is basically ready to go. We just need to complete inspections by the fire marshal and get our certificate of occupancy from Glenn Heights.” 

Other items discussed during the superintendent’s report were legislative updates, with Niven reporting that a stimulus plan has been submitted to the state that includes a teacher pay raise.

“I will have a budget update at the next board meeting,” he said.

Brenda Flowers addressed the trustees regarding changes as a result of House Bill 3.

“We will continue to monitor clarifications to the bill,” she said. “We will continue to examine program adherence at the district level and develop an action plan to determine and implement any needed changes.”

Other topics discussed were improvements in TAKs scores and improvements in campus accountability.

High school Principal Kevin Freels discussed improvements in graduation numbers and decreases in the numbers of seniors not graduating due to TAKs scores or the lack of credits.

Action items before the board included the approval of minor wording changes to the dress code and the student code of conduct.

The board appointed Lynne Grandstaff to represent the district at the TASB Delegate Assembly, with Barb Ward approved as her alternate. The board also accepted the resignation of board trustee Brent Stanford.