LIVINGSTON - The Livingston Independent School District’s Board of Trustees was presented with energy optimization report and approved a Medicaid-reimbursement program during its November meeting.
During informational reports, Wesley Daniel, CEO and founder of Ideal Impact, presented information on energy optimization for the district. Daniel has developed a program that allows his current school district customers to save 50 percent of their utility bills. The mission of Ideal Impact is to give back to schools by providing more funding as a result of energy optimization.
Daniel outlined how other issues can be solved when implementing energy savings including maintenance issues. The company has analyzed 24 months of energy bills and calculated proposed savings to the district. Daniel feels that the key to savings is to drop relative humidity and make improvements to the controls and processes at the start.
New controllers would be utilized on 191 units, as well as major control improvements on 462 units. Daniel is a class A mechanical engineer and would be responsible for installing and implementing the system which is estimated to take 90 days. A detailed energy and operations plan will be build and fine-tuned over time.
Each month the electric and gas bills will be sent to Ideal Impact, which will calculate the savings. The goal is to cut energy costs in the amount of $605,236 per year with a net 15-year savings of $13,699,189 which is a 44 percent savings over the current bills while guaranteeing all costs to implement the savings plan.
The school board meeting opened with a public hearing for the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) report. The FIRST report ensures that school districts will be held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices and achieve improved performance in the management of their financial resources.
LISD Chief Financial Officer Ben Davidson presented the 2015-2016 FIRST report which is graded on 20 different indicators. Dr. Brent Hawkins, LISD Superintendent, commended Davidson and the business department staff on receiving a perfect score of 100.
During action items, the board approved the implementation of the School Health and Related Services (SHARS) Agreement. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) jointly developed the SHARS program to enable school districts in Texas to obtain federal reimbursement for certain health-related services provided to Medicaid-eligible children with disabilities enrolled in special education.
Federal regulations allow for inter-agency agreements between state educational and Medicaid agencies to ensure the appropriate management of such programs. This agreement produced LISD in an additional $300,000 in revenues this past year.
In addition to the minutes from the previous board meeting, the financial statement and payment of bills the board approved several other action items. TASB Update 109 was approved with the exception of CO local (food service management) so that it may be written specifically to align with the goals of LISD.
The 830 votes for the Polk County Appraisal District Board of Directors positions were split between Mike Nettles and Pam Pierce.
Approval was given for overnight trips to be taken by the Livingston High School Student Council and the Livingston High School Chorale in December.
The LISD District and Campus Plans for the 2017-2018 school year were approved as well as a personal property donation.
During informational items, Livingston High School FCCLA Region IV officers Miranda Glass, president, and Karla Silva, vice president of service learning, gave the board an overview of their duties and responsibilities to their local chapter, region, and state. They also shared their past experiences in their leadership program and previewed their upcoming events.
The Timber Creek Elementary mentoring program was featured in a video showing the Kids Hope USA mentoring process.
During the meeting, the board welcomed Tracie Standley and Al Torres as November inductees into the prestigious LISD Apple Corps.
LIVINGSTON -- Follow-ing a closed, executive session to discuss the matter with their attorney, Polk County commissioners agreed Tuesday to waive the county’s fees from the IAH Detention Facility near Livingston for three months.
After the commissioners returned to open session, attorney Herb Bristow explained that due to a substantial drop in the number of inmates housed at the facility during the months of June, July and August, the income generated by the private detention center did not cover its expenses. The facility and its bond holders were asking the county to waive its fees for the months of September, October and November to help the facility recover from the previous shortfall.
The private detention facility primarily houses people being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Under the contract with the facility and its bond holders, the county receives a per diem fee for each inmate in the facility, which means the monthly payments go up and down depending upon the number of prisoners held during any given month.
The county also receives a fee for the telephone calls made by the inmates and that income will not be interrupted because of Tuesday’s action.
County Judge Sydney Murphy noted after the meeting that by agreeing to waive their fees during the three-month period, they are helping the IAH facility stabilize its income which could result in larger monthly payments next year.
Bristow noted the inmate numbers have been increasing recently noting that as of Tuesday, the IAH facility was holding 560 prisoners. Murphy added she has been told by the facility management that 500 inmates is their “break event point.”
While it is not known how much money the county would have received during the temporary suspension, Murphy noted that based on previous experience, the loss will not significantly impact the county’s budget.
“No one’s job is in jeopardy because of this,” she said, noting that under the current budget, income from the IAH contract is earmarked for non-critical expenses.
Three years ago, the county agreed to waive its fees for an indefinite period when the facility, under its previous management, fell into a critical financial situation. The IAH income at that time was used to support all phases of the county’s operation and Murphy, shortly after taking office for her first term, was faced with cutting well over $1 million from that year’s budget to make up for that loss.
At that time county jobs were impacted as all department had to slash their budgets.
When the financial situation at IAH was finally stabilized, the county entered into a new contract with the facility earlier this year and the monthly payment were once again being received. However, under the current budget which went into effect on Oct. 1, the income was earmarked for capital purchases and other areas that would not create major problems should it be lost.
Other business During the meeting, commissioners also: Received the quarterly report from Mike Demarco, general manager for Santek Waste Services, the company which operates the Polk County Landfill near Leggett. He noted the amount of waste that went into the landfill jumped from 11,828 tons in August to 19,595 tons in September, with much of the increase attributed to “FEMA waste” collected because of Hurricane Harvey in late August.
Accepted the bids on eight new vehicles for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office from Caldwell Chevrolet at a cost not to exceed $353,400. The deal will include six trade-in vehicles. Two other PCSO vehicles that were on the trade-in list will be reassigned to the county’s maintenance and internet technology departments.
Accepted bids for the purchase of four pickup trucks for the Precinct 1 Road and Bridge Department from Grapevine Dodge. Approved a resolution in support of grant application being submitted by the sheriff’s department for rifle resistant body armor.
Accepted bids for the purchase of new tires for the coming year. All bids were accepted except for one submitted by Simple Tires out of Pennsylvania.
Approved the holiday schedule for the coming year.
ONALASKA -- During the Onalaska School Board meeting, Superintendent Lynn Redden presented a State of the District power point covering the time frame from the 2006-07 school years to the present term of 2017-18.
District enrollment in 2006-07 was 855 with 482 children in elementary school. In 2011-12 the enrolment topped out at 957 with 554 in elementary classes. There was a significant drop in enrollment ending in 2014-15, when it fell to 895, with 555 in elementary school, showing the loss was primarily at the junior/senior high level.
The three years since that time have all shown increases and as of Oct. 3, the distinct currently has 1,120 students, with 676 at the elementary school.
The expansion and new classrooms, funded by the bond issue approved two years ago, have provided necessary room for the students, with enhanced facilities in all classrooms. The projected growth for the next four terms, through 2021-22, anticipates an enrollment of 534 at the junior/senior high.
The report showed the accountability summary for the elementary school and showed the standard was met for student achievement, student progress and post secondary readiness. The start target for achievement is 60 and the Onalaska Independent School District scored 80. The target for student progress is 32 and OISD’s score is 45. The target for closing performance gaps is 28 with OISD scoring 43; and target for readiness is 12, while OISD scored 32.
The elementary school received “distinction earned” in academic achievement in mathematics, top 25 percent in student progress and in postsecondary readiness. The achievement report for the junior/senior high showed the target for student achievement was 60 with OISD scoring 80; target for progress was 17, while OISD scored 40; the target for closing performance gaps was 30, with OISD scoring 45; and the readiness target was 60, with OISD scoring 81.
Distinction was earned in academic achievement in social studies and in top 25 percent closing performance gaps. The district met the standards in all categories.
A representative from Weaver and Tidwell Tax Advisory, LLC, presented the audits for the year which ended Aug. 31. After a review, the trustees accepted the audit. A copy is available in the business office during regular business hours.
The Ag Issues team presented their programs on Boarder Security during the meeting. They will present this program in many venues as they practice for UIL competition. Under the direction of Adam Graham, this segment of agriculture educations continues to successfully compete in statewide competition.
The board discussed the need for a new irrigation well at the high school. The current older well no longer produces enough water under normal operation for the needs and the addition of a track facility will increase the needs. The board approved having a new well drilled. The consent agenda was approved, consisting of principal recognition, construction update, enrollment and attendance report, and rescheduling the November board meeting to Nov. 13 at 6 p.m. in the board room at the administration building.
They also approved the minutes of the September meeting, tax report, and quarterly investment report and budget amendments. They accepted bids in foreclosed property presented except for the bid from Teresa Nunez for lot 3, block 16, and section 1, Cedar Point, in the amount of $831.50; which does not meet the minimum percentage of appraised value set by the board.
GOODRICH -- The Goodrich Independent School District’s Board of Trustees appointed a new member and approved the implementation of the Texas Academic Intervention System (TAIS) during its meeting last week.
Heather Workman of Goodrich was appointed by the board during Thursday’s meeting to fill the trustee spot previously held by John Whitehouse. As the mother of three GISD students, Workman expects to bring her dedication to the district in order to better serve the community.
“I have a vision for the students here in our community to be offered the best education just like other districts with a bigger school system.” Workman told the Enterprise. “Both of my boys are dyslexic, so I have a passion to make sure that everybody has a learning opportunity no matter what.”
Workman stated she is looking forward to working alongside the other board members and administration staff in the coming months.
“I was so excited when they appointed me. I want to have the foundation and shared vision with [the board] to be able to work together and conquer things as a team.” said Workman. Workman is married to Paul, her husband of 12 years. Both are parents to Goodrich elementary students, James and Jacob, and high school junior, Summer.
During the action agenda, the board approved the implementation of the Texas Academic Intervention System (TAIS) with targeted elements for the elementary and middle school campuses. The training system is utilized with districts and campuses that earn a rating of Improvement Required (IR) through the State Accountability System.
Although all three GISD campuses met state standards in 2016, records indicated a drop in performance at the elementary and middle school in spring of this year. Accountability reports for both campuses did not meet enough of the required performance indexes, which include student achievement, student growth, closing-the-gap and college readiness.
Areas of focus during professional development this year will include writing, reading, economically-disadvantaged and ESL. Targeted improvement plans are also being implemented for both campuses.
During business items, the board was presented with an initial proposal from PTI Construction to build a new school playground in exchange for a land property, valued at $22,873, owned by the district. The proposed agreement would include three construction options of Henderson-brand playground equipment. The board is expected to hear a full proposal at next month’s public meeting.
The board approved a waiver during the action agenda for missed days of instruction from Aug. 28 to Sept. 1 and a reduction of minimum days of service, due to Hurricane Harvey. A 2017-2018 budget amendment was also approved, which consisted of $43,383 in additional funds from the 2015 National School Lunch Program.
LIVINGSTON -- Who is going to pay for a $3,200 error made on the sidewalk leading to the new senior citizens’ center in Livingston was an issue this week during the Polk County Commissioners Court meeting.
Convening on Monday instead of their normal Tuesday due to conflict with a state conference, commissioners received a change order request from engineers on the construction of the senior center that sparked the debate.
According to the Chow Bao representing EHRA engineers of Houston, the slope of the center’s main sidewalk from its front entrance to the parking area needed to be changed to make it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
Pct. 4 Commissioner Tommy Overstreet noted from the beginning of the project it was emphasized that because this facility was for senior citizens, it had to be ADA compliant. He questioned how such a mistake could be made and asked who was responsible for the error. “Why are the people of Polk County being asked to pay to correct something for whoever made this mistake?” Polk County Judge Sydney Murphy asked.
“Exactly,” Overstreet added.
In the end the commis-sioners tabled the change order request to allow the project’s grant consultant Randy Blanks and Bao to confer with others involved with the project.
Also related to the new senior center, commissioners decided to handle the parking lot striping and building landscaping in-hour rather than to hire outside contractors.
Disaster declaration In other business Monday, commissioners approved the extension of the county disaster declaration for another 30 days, meaning it will now run through at least Oct. 30.
Having such a declaration gives commissioners added authority to handle road and bridge repairs throughout the county. The declaration was issued originally by Murphy on Aug. 25 as Hurricane Harvey approached and was confirmed and extended for 30 days by the full commissioners court on Aug. 31.
During the meeting, commissioners also: Presented the Texas Historical Commission’s Distinguished Service Award to the Polk County Historical Commission for their work during 2016 to preserve local history.
Authorized Sheriff Kenneth Hammack to advertise for bids for the purchase of six patrol units and two criminal investigation units.
Authorized Pct. 1 Commissioner Bob Willis to advertise for bids for the purchase of four pickup trucks.
Accepted a bid of $65,000 for the concrete headwall construction on the Freeman Road bridge in Precinct 3.
Voted to re-nominate all of the current five members of the Polk Central Appraisal District Board for new terms.
Accepted the annual bids on road materials, tires, oil and gas and pest control.
Approved the sale of properties seized for the non-payment of taxes, including four lots in Precinct 1, a one-acre tract in Precinct 3 and four lots and a 2.664-acre tract in Precinct 4.
LIVINGSTON -- The Livingston City Council appointed Marion A. “Bid” Smith” as a new alderman during a special called meeting on Tuesday to fill the position left by the incoming city manager.
Smith, a Livingston native and former Polk County Tax Assessor-Collector, was sworn-in as alderman Tuesday to fill a vacancy on the council that was created by the resignation of Bill Wiggins, who will become city manager starting Oct. 1. Smith will serve the remaining term of the position until the next city election in May 2018.
“On behalf of the city council, we are so pleased that Bid has accepted the appointment. Bid understands the meaning of public service and brings his level maturity and responsiveness to which we are accustomed on the council. We look forward to his input and participation in the coming months,” Mayor Clarke Evans said after Tuesday’s meeting.
Smith graduated from Livingston High School as valedictorian and later graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in business. He served as the Polk County Tax Assessor-Collector for 20 years, retiring from that position in 2012. Smith is married to Grace, his wife of 36 years, and is an active member of the Livingston Lions Club.
“I would like to thank the Livingston City Council, mayor and city manager for giving me the opportunity to serve as interim city council member,” Smith said. “I will give you the best of my ability in order to serve all of the citizens of Livingston in a fair and responsible manner. I am proud to say that I have been a lifelong citizen of the city and look forward to serving on the council to keep our city safe, progressive and stable.”