December 15, 2020
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Superior Achievement on State Financial Accountability Rating and Early Payoff of Bonds Savings are Top Topics for TISD Board of Trustees December 2020 Regular Meeting
Texarkana, TX – Many topics were covered during the December 15, 2020 regular session of the Texarkana Independent School District Board of Trustees. They included:
*Public Hearing on annual Schools FIRST (Financial Accountability Rating System of Texas). For the 18th year since the inception of Schools FIRST, TISD has received a rating of Superior Achievement for demonstrating quality performance in the management of the school districts’ financial resources. This rating is based upon an analysis of staff and student data reported for the 2018-19 school year. Senate Bill (SB) 218, which was passed during the 77th Texas Legislature in 2001, authorized the implementation of a financial accountability rating system for Texas school districts.
“TISD’s effort in being effective, efficient and accountable with taxpayers’ dollars is an important task that we strive continually to deliver,” said Autumn Thomas, Acting Superintendent. “Receiving the Superior Achievement Rating for so many years is evident of our excellence in managing and reporting taxpayer dollars and something that we take great pride in.”
*Approval of Educational Professional Development, Consulting, Coaching and Facilitation Services Vendors. Awarded to TSDC, Inc. dba Learning Forward Texas given their ability to offer several formats to fit the needs of the district;
*Approval of Temporary Services Vendor. Awarded to Express Employment Services given the district’s positive prior experience with the company, their superior reputation and quality of services;
*Approval of Truck Purchase. Awarded to Caldwell Country Ford and Todd Shores’ McLarty Ford for the purchase of a 2020 Ford Super Duty F-250 along with trade in of a 1996 Ford Pick-up and 1992 Chevrolet Fleetside Pick-up. Vehicle to be used within the Transportation Department;
*Approval of Designation of Backup Submitter for TEA TEASE/TEAL System. Approved Amanda Manca, Director of Student Services to act as superintendent designee/alternate for approving staff requests for access to one or more TEA web applications accessed through the Texas Education Agency Secure Environment (TEASE) or TEA Login (TEAL);
*Approval of the Resolution for Nita Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant. The resolution acknowledges the TISD Board of Trustees support of application for the respective grant that would implement community learning centers outside of school hours at Spring Lake Park Elementary, Highland Park Elementary, Theron Jones Early Literacy Center, Westlawn Elementary, Nash Elementary and Texas Middle School. The purpose of the learning centers is to provide academic and enrichment opportunities for students of these campuses as well as build parent/guardian support and involvement. The federally-funded grant has a maximum award amount of $1.7 million annually with the opportunity to extend for five years at the same amount if all grant requirements are met at the end of year one;
*Approval of Texas Middle School Program of Studies and Course Description Guide for 2021-22. Two new course will be added for the 2021-22 school year – Technical Theatre for grade 7 and Advanced Theatre Arts for grade 8. Texas Middle School offers 155 courses for students with 34 Pre-AP courses available;
*Approval of the Review of the Early Bond Redemption Plan and Action to Adopt a Resolution Calling for Redemption Certain Currently Outstanding Bonds. One of the last orders of business for the afternoon was the adoption of a resolution calling for the early redemption of Series 2007 Bonds that will reach final maturity on February 15, 2021.
In February 2015, TISD refinanced approximately $15.8 million of the Series 2007 Bonds lowering the average interest rate of 5.12% down to 2.71%. In doing so, the District was able to save $3.5 million in interest costs over the remaining life of the Bonds. With the approval of early redemption, TISD will save another $1.24 in interest cost savings bringing the total savings to over $4.7 million on the original 2007 bond program.
“What a great day for TISD as we pay down this debt,” said Fred R. Norton, Jr. President of TISD Board of Trustees. “As fiscal managers, we believe it is important for the district to find ways to pay down its debt as often and as early as possible. This opportunity for payoff is due directly to the strong financial management practices of the District which is also exhibited by our Superior Achievement on the Schools FIRST rating system.”
*Student Academic Performance Report for 2019-20
In the area of college readiness, TISD remained on par with the number of students taking the American College Test (ACT) and/or Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The district average score (20.8) for the ACT is slightly above the state average (20.2) while the district average score (1077) for the SAT exceeds the state average (1010) by 67 points.
TISD’s Advanced Placement (AP) Program offers 33 courses for a minimum of 99 college semester hours of credit. Additionally, there are 56 Pre-AP preparation courses offered for Texas Middle and Texas High School students. Student course enrollment in the AP program is at a three-year average of 685. Thirty-five percent of tests taken by Texas High School students scored “3” or higher. Forty-seven students were named Advanced Placement scholars with 18 students being named AP Scholars with Distinction. Texas High School students scored higher than the state average on 11 of the AP tests offered and higher than the global average on nine of the tests.
For Dual Credit (DC), TISD offers 123 high school courses in collaboration with Texarkana College, Texas A&M University-Texarkana and Southern Arkansas University Tech. These courses provide the opportunity for 369 academic college semester hours of credit. All but one academic course required to earn an Associate Degree is taught on the Texas High School campus. For the May 2020 commencement ceremonies, 12 senior students received their High School Diploma along with their Associate Degree. The DC program increased by 74 course enrollments to 1,443 for the 2019-20 school year.
The Texas High School 2020 graduating class received a total of $17,835,896 in scholarships. Ninety-one percent (409 students) of graduates attained the Distinguished Achievement Program level. Under the graduation program, students are able to earn endorsements in: STEM; Business & Industry; Public Service; Arts & Humanities; and Multidisciplinary Studies.
The next meeting for the TISD Board of Trustees will be Tuesday, January 19, 2021.