Board to review state's request to extend terms

Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal

BEN BOLT - During the Ben Bolt Palito Blanco ISD School Board meeting Wednesday, representatives from Direct Energy made a presentation focusing on areas of improvement for the three district campuses.

When it came to improving the electrical needs of the district schools, representatives said it would be more cost effective to focus on lighting and other basic electrical needs on any improvement project.

The presentation was just an informational item, and no action was taken. In order to begin the project, the board would have to call for bids, present them to the board, and then make a decision.

There is no timetable in place as of yet, for that bid process to begin.

Board members and the public also reviewed the district's rating from Texas Education Agency on its Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) Report.

Superintendent Dr. Grace Everett said BBPBISD received a Superior rating on the FIRST.

FIRST is a financial accountability report developed by TEA to ensure that school district across the state are using taxpayer funds appropriately.

There are four different ratings under the FIRST report, including Substandard Achievement, Standard Achievement, Above Standard Achievement and Superior Achievement.

For a Superior rating, a school district must have a yes on at least 19 of 21 indicators. BBPBISD received a "yes" on 20 out of 21 indicators.

An update was presented concerning information on board elections.

The state is asking all districts to consider moving its board members to four-year terms in order to better coordinate their elections with city and county officials.

The Texas Secretary of State asked school boards not to hold elections in 2007, Everett said, in order for districts to stretch terms from three years to four years beginning in 2008.

The draft resolution is a preliminary document, and no action will be taken on the issue until board members have further discussed it.

The state has given the deadline of Dec. 31 for school boards to approve a resolution. The two school board members due for re-election are Noe Cadena and Ramiro Ramirez.

If a resolution is passed, it is possible that their terms may be stretched for an additional year, to comply with the state's request.

The board did approve allowing Everett to purchase a new school bus for the district. The purchase, which would occur through a registered vendor with the school district, is estimated to cost the district $74,000.

The district had originally set aside funds for a new van and car for the district, but will now use those funds for the new school bus.

Everett said there has been an influx of new students in the Green Acres area, so much so that one route had to be broken into two separate routes this year, placing more pressure on the district's fleet, including two aging buses currently in use.

Those older buses, Everett said, are continually breaking down, and a new bus will go a long way towards alleviating the problem.