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Bandera ISD adopts fourday week,votes to sell Pipe Creek land

February 21, 2024 - 05:00
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The Bandera ISD Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a four-day instructional calendar for school and employees for the 2024-2025 school year at their meeting on Monday, Feb. 12.

Additionally, after coming out of closed session, the Board presented a resolution to sell an 84-acre tract of land, which passed unanimously. The board resolved to allow the Superintendent to publish notice of its intent to sell the real property of 84 acres located off State Highway 1283 in Pipe Creek, Texas.

The initial presentation on the viability of a four-day school week occurred at the board meeting on Jan. 9.

Middle School principal Bobby Lalanne and High School principal Dr. Patrick Sizemore presented to the board what they believed were positive benefits of the change. Each endorsed the plan and emphasized that they had spoken with several local districts who had adopted this change.

All those districts seemed pleased with the new calendar and had seen positive benefits, according to the duo.

Superintendent Gary Bitzkie also endorsed the plan as a benefit to recruit teachers to come to Bandera to work. Bitzkie noted that the district had several positions that it had been unable to fill. He remarked that Northside ISD in San Antonio was also considering the four-day week plan.

Currently, Utopia, Natalia, and LaVernia ISD follow a four day a week calendar. Seventy school districts in Texas follow a 4-day school week calendar up from 40 districts last year. Most of the districts are small, but Athens ISD follows the four-day week as well.

“Bandera ISD is committed to providing our students with a rich and rewarding learning experience. To do this we must have quality educators in our classrooms,” he said. “As it becomes increasingly more difficult to recruit and hire public educators, especially in rural districts like Bandera, we have learned from our colleagues around the state, who have already moved to a four-day school week, that it is a very powerful recruiting tool. It helps put quality teachers in our students’ classrooms.”

According to the district, offering the property that the district owns on Highway 1283 for sale would provide the money needed for repair and renovation to the district’s facilities.

Data drives that decision to let go of the property that the district held for over 20 years with the plan to build a second middle school in that area.

After reviewing the new demographic study, Bitzkie said “the district’s latest demographic study is showing no student growth in our district. The district decided to put the property up for sale to use the money on existing facilities that are in need of improvement.”

Extensive discussions about the need for HVAC replacements, adding HVAC to both elementary gyms and meeting ADA requirements have occurred over the last year.

In other meeting business, the district recognized Rylee Chambers and Ty Lowden from Bandera Middle School as the district’s Students of the Month.

Bandera Middle School’s Breanna Powers and Colleen Harris were recognized as BISD Staff Members of the Month.

Powers is the Principal’s Secretary and Harris is a sixth-grade math teacher. BMS English Department Head Lori Bagwell was selected for the PICS recognition.

Bandera High School Head Band Director Joe Cortez introduced two state qualifiers to the Board, Carlye Niccum (flute) and David Padgett (jazz piano).

Cortez noted this year 31 band students qualified for Regional competition and 16 students qualified for Area competition.

Bandera ISD Education Foundation President Alyssa Cothran presented the district with an extra check for $19,950 for additional cooperative teacher grants.

The Consent agenda was approved. There were no Citizens Comments.

Superintendent Bitzkie reported an enrollment of 2282 students at the end of February with an attendance rate of 91%.

Director of Assessment and Accountability Brittany Timmons reported on the Texas Academic Performance Report Card/Federal Accountability Report. The reports compare student performance across ethnic groups as well as other factors.

Overall, Bandera ISD is comparable with the state and area in most categories. Ratings for the district are still pending. This is due to a lawsuit and appeal filed by the Texas Education Agency. The Feb. 12 trial date was paused.

An information item presentation was given by CFO Michael Neuman on the Fund Balance.

The Board approved the district’s District of Innovation plan which is required to be reviewed and approved every five years. The district made several small changes that would allow for a 4-day school week.

Caryle Niccum and Head Band Director Joe Cortez presented the proposed new band uniforms. The uniforms contain several features to help with heat reduction for the students marching in hot weather. The cost of the new uniforms was $101, 365 for all marching students. The Board approved the purchase of new uniforms to replace the over ten-yearold uniforms still in use.

The Board approved the purchase of replacement HVAC equipment for Bandera High School, Alkek Elementary and Hill Country Elementary cafeterias.

CFO Neuman presented a budget amendment to cover the costs of the items discussed previously.

The Board then adjourned into closed session and returned twenty minutes later to propose the sale of the district owned property off State Hwy 1283.

The next meeting of the Bandera Board of Trustees will be on March 18, 2024 at 6 p.m. at the BISD Administration Building.