La Vernia ISD board: Another public meeting needed before trustees vote on four-day week


La Vernia Independent School District trustees and Superintendent Hensley Cone recognize Executive Secretary for the Superintendent & School Board Theresa Watson (center) — who is retiring — at the Jan. 23 school board meeting.

Another public meeting is expected to be scheduled by the La Vernia Independent School District prior to the school board voting in February on a proposal to change to a four-day instructional week.

“More stakeholders’ voices need to be heard,” said school board President Nancy Janysek during the regular school board meeting Jan. 23. This followed a presentation by district Chief Instructional Officer Helen Whisenhunt on the two roundtable meetings held Jan. 10 and 17.

Whisenhunt reported that the roundtable sessions were comprised of 48 total members, including:
•12 teachers — three from each school campus
•12 parents — three representing each campus
•Five community business members — two being local daycare owners
•Principals of all four campuses
•15 district administrators.

Roundtable participants reviewed data and research on other districts which have made the change, potential calendar options, childcare, transportation, athletics, advanced academics, child nutrition, special education, and human resources. The purpose of the discussions was to address parent concerns expressed in a Dec. 7 town hall meeting.

Whisenhunt explained how La Vernia ISD plans to overcome obstacles. For example, district leadership is in the process of working with the YMCA to provide childcare on Fridays paid for by the La Vernia ISD, rather than at a cost to parents. Breakfasts and lunches would be available for pick-up on Fridays to alleviate nutrition concerns.

Despite the feedback being primarily positive from the roundtable participants, board members expressed a desire to better inform parents on the potential plans before voting on the four-day week proposal.

In other business, trustees received an update from Chief Administrative Officer Michael Duffek on the flooding of the high school auditorium and Gym 2, which occured Dec. 23 during the Christmas week hard freeze.

Duffek said the cause was a malfunctioning sprinkler head in the fire-suppression system. He added that this was the same issue which had caused similar flooding during the “Big Freeze” in February 2021, but the sprinkler heads were not replaced at that time because it was believed to be an isolated incident.

Duffek said Edwards Risk Management assessed the damage on Jan. 2 and received a quote Jan. 18 to repair the damage to the buildings. La Vernia ISD received a quote Jan. 19 for replacing the current sprinkler heads with dry pendent sprinklers.

Also during the meeting, the board:
•Was updated by Superintendent Hensley Cone on the actions of the Community Advisory Committee working on determining the potential bond election needs
•Received the monthly financial report and a budget timeline from Chief Financial Officer Elizabeth Oaks
•Heard a report on updated state educational policies
•Set the next trustee election for May 6
•Awarded a contract for propane to SouthTex Propane of La Vernia, based on the recommendations of Director of Operations Michael Wallace
•Amended the budget to include a donation of just under $43,000 made by the La Vernia Sports Booster Club to cover the cost of installing a new LED wall scoreboard in Gym 2. (See “La Vernia ISD considers four-day school week” Nov. 17, 2022, La Vernia News.)

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