BY LEW VAIL
ONALASKA – In hopes of retaining more of its teaching staff, the Onalaska School Board is reviewing ways to enhance the school district's salary structure.
During their meeting on Monday, Superintendent Lynn Redden presented several options for salary scales to the board at the request of President Brandon Smith.
Redden explained that offering a signing bonus does not help retain teachers beyond the first year. The goal of the Onalaska Independent School District should be offering a solid program that will allow hiring excellent prospects and keeping them. Redden said that if a teacher stays through the fourth or fifth year, they usually spend many more years in a district.
"When they have no incentive for wage increases they will look elsewhere after the first year," Redden said.
The board voted to complete a salary schedule through 35 years of service to be used at recruiting expos this spring.
The board held their regular meeting at the Junior/Senior High cafeteria and were served a meal prepared by a board member prior to the actual meeting. This was in support of the statewide Board Appreciation Month. Spouses and friends were invited to the meal and students had decorated the room with signs thanking the board for their dedication to helping the district by their service. Special book bags and gift baskets were prepared by staff and the elementary school children made hearts and signs for each board member.
In other business during the meeting, the discussed retaining legal counsel and Redden suggested they ask the firm of Hardy, Cook and Hardy of Tyler to make a presentation at the February meeting. Redden said this is a firm that represents several school districts and yet is small enough to serve Onalaska's needs. He said when he would call the larger firms to see if they were interested he always got a different person on the line.
The Texas Academic Performance report (TAPR) showed both OISD campuses and the district met the standards with the elementary school receiving an academic achievement designation in Reading/ELA and science, top 25% in Closing Performance Gap and Post-Secondary Readiness. OES was rated above state average in math, reading, science and social studies and a large percentage of students met or exceeded progress in math. The OES attendance was above state average.
The junior/senior high was above average in math, writing and social studies and the seventh grade was above in math and writing, The eighth grade was above average in math and reading; end of course (EOC) English 11 and U.S. History; SAT scores; and a 0 annual dropout rate. Areas for improvement included writing in all grades; grade 8 science and social studies; EOC English 1 and Algebra 1; increase testing on ACT/SAT; and increase Advance College Course enrollment.
Junior/senior high Principal Charles Boyce reported enrollment at 357 with 98.86 percent attendance. They held STARR/EOC retesting in December and had 35 students retested. The campus also hosted the District 21-3A UIL Academic meet and Onalaska placed third overall with several students earning first place recognition.
They also hosted a JV boys' basketball tournament and Onalaska placed third overall in that event.
Brittany Lightfoot placed eighth in the Congressional State Debate Finals in Austin. This was her fifth time to represent the campus and district at a state final debate. The annual Angel Tree project was a huge success with 90 children locally receiving Christmas gifts.
The Annual FFA Buyers Group steak dinner for two will be Feb, 7 at 6 p.m., mock STAAR testing will be Feb. 9-17, the 10th Annual Military Ball will be Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. and the second running of the Running Wild in O Town will be Feb. 28 starting at 8 a.m.
Principal Hannah Williams reported the elementary school had an enrollment of 544 with 95 percent attendance. Seventy three students in grades one through six meet their Accelerated Reader goal for the second marking period and enjoyed a popcorn party.
Parent volunteers Debra Svoboda, Alice Whimpey, Arlene Burchert and Donna Crain organized and operated the Christmas Store, the proceeds from which will help offset the cost of field trips. Williams also noted the second through sixth graders did a great job at UIL events. Fourth and fifth graders will take mock STAAR tests during the week of Feb. 2nd in preparation for the actual test early in April.
On Feb. 5 students will mark 100 days of school with a Hip-Hip-Hooray It's the Hundredth Day celebration. Students should dress in 1970's style attire. Valentines exchanges will take place on Friday, Feb. 13, and dance will be held at 6:30 p.m.
The board passed a resolution approving the proposal by the Polk Central Appraisal District to construct an addition to the appraisal building. No new funds will be expended, and they are using accrued fund balances.
The board voted to utilize ERATE service from Eastex Telephone for phone service, AT&T for cellular service, Eastex Telephone Cooperative for long distance, Internet fiber access from Region 6 Education Service Center (ESC) to the cloud and Eastex Telephone for wide area network between campuses. Video conferencing will be through the Region 6 ESC and basic maintenance and internal communications (Wi-Fi Upgrade) from Eastex Telephone.
The board voted to call an election for May 9. Position 3 held by Lewis Landsman and 6 held by Linda Vincent will be on the ballot. The board also voted to hold the election jointly with the City of Onalaska. Filing for a position on the ballot opens Jan. 26 and those interested should contact the school administration office.
There were eight parcels of land on the approval list from foreclosure and all meet the district's minimum bid requirements and were approved by the board.
After an executive session the hoard voted to extend Redden's contract for another year. With no further business the board adjourned.