Members get update on school construction

Sue Fleming, The Freer Press

Members of the Freer High School Girl's Varsity Volleyball team who captured the 2007 District 32 AA Championship were introduced to the school board during the regular monthly meeting last Monday night.

"There are so many people to thank," said head coach Martina Carrillo. "Everyone was so supportive. That's what I told the girls - you can't do this alone, it takes a whole community."

Carrillo said the team had done a great job and she would be losing five girls next season.

"Though we're losing them, next year we'll still have even a better team and I hope to go even further," she announced.

Athletic Director Joseph Alvarado then presented the trophy to the board members.

"(High school principal) Dr. Mendietta, members of the board, on behalf of the athletic department, we would like to present you this all-district co-champion trophy from our girls. They've earned it. On our behalf, we present it to you," he said.

Previously, introductions along with praiseful comments of the girl's cross country team from coach Barbara Uribe were given. The team placed second at district.

During open forum, Gracie Uribe addressed the board members stating she will not be retiring. Elementary principal Linda Garza afterward approached the board, presenting each with a collared royal blue shirt signifying Norman Thomas Elementary's campus rating of Recognized by TEA this year.

Afterward, board members unanimously approved the purchase of a subscription agreement of BoardBook at a cost of $1,600 for the first year.

BoardBook, which will be maintained by superintendent secretary Sally Guajardo, is an Internet-based application available to TASB members enabling the user to create electronic board meeting agendas, to compile the agendas with supporting documents into complete electronic board meeting packets.

"About 300 school districts are currently using the program," said representative Merritt Grimsley during a teleconference call. "The system will allow members to have quick and easy access to a variety of reference materials, documentation such as state as well as local district school policies and other information such as minutes to past meetings."

Lupe Cude, Programs Director, followed with the highly qualified teachers report.

Based on data, all teachers at Norman Thomas Elementary have met highly qualified requirements, those not meeting requirements were four junior high teachers; two in their primary teaching assignments and two which are not highly qualified in some classes they teach. One high school teacher is not highly qualified, she said.

"Letters have been sent to parents informing them," she said.

Cude said the alternative campus was exempt from meeting highly qualified requirements.

In other business, a bid not exceeding $466,281 to cover costs of high school demolition and immobilization with power given to the board president to review and approve was unanimously approved. A contract with Fulton/Coastcon General Contractors was also approved.

"We've hit the fifty percent milestone on the renovations project," Kell Munoz representative Randy Hohlaus.

"We have two consultants looking at existing conditions on the schools."

He reported water issues at the elementary building, leakages, were being evaluated, suggesting a metal roof overlaying the present one would give the roof a much longer life.

Hohlaus also said a forensic constructional specialist had taken a closer look at the annex building and had reported though the center part of the building was in pretty good shape, there has been some movement at the ends of the structure.

"Strength of the concrete is in question. Doing work at each end of the structure is needed," he said.

He said more information would be available for next month's board meeting regarding structural concerns of the annex building.

Board member Saul Hinojosa then questioned the finding, asking why the problem wasn't found sooner.

"We had an extra $62,000 bill on asbestos or something last month and I hate for something to keep coming up that someone was already paid to do that hasn't been done," he said.

"We thought we could supplement what was there, brace it up with angle iron, but they found that there are other issues," said Hohlaus, "we're still in the process of working it out."

Afterward, board members voted unanimously to cast votes in the Duval County Appraisal District Board of Directors election for Ida Perez, making the total votes cast 1,155.

Concluding the meeting, the following donations were accepted, which included $690 from Tina Trevino, $1,000 from Texas Energy Services to Freer ISD and $500 from BP to Norman Thomas Elementary for extra belts and shirts and help cover some costs of field trips.

Attending the meeting were Larry Robertson, Roy Salazar, Edna Cantu, Mary Lou Garza, Christina Lichtenberger, Calvan Evans, Hinojosa and superintendent Edgar Camacho.