Board discusses technology, nutrition plan, parent pleads for arming teachers

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The Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees approved new contracts and a technology distribution plan and heard updates on the state of its food service programs during its March 19 regular meeting.

The meeting’s most emotional moment, however, was not on the agenda. LISD parent Nick Wisner spoke during public comment and pled with the board to reconsider its position on armed guards in schools. He praised Harrold, Keene and Argyle ISDs, which allow teachers to carry weapons on campus.

“What we’re talking about here guys is soft targets. I’m sorry,” he said. “If the board fails to reconsider taking the appropriate actions to protect our students and faculty, potentially the blood of those students will be on the board or future board members’ hands.”

Lewisville ISD voted unanimously in February 2013 to not arm its teachers.

In its action agenda, the board approved expenditures of $27.7 million for new iPads. Board member Tracy Scott Miller expressed concern about committing to a number of iPads when enrollment was still in doubt. The district unexpectedly lost 782 students last year, and plans to regain them are still being formulated and should be discussed next month.Miller was the lone dissenting vote. The $27.7 million is out of $99.1 million approved for technology purchases in the 2017 bond package.

The board was briefed earlier in the meeting on the month-by-month timeline of how technology purchased as part of the 2017 bond package would be distributed.

Miller was also the sole “nay” vote on the item to approve six firms to serve as underwriters for future bond sales, but said he could not go into detail on why.

The board also approved expenditures for a five year contract with Frontier Communications, which will take over as the district’s telecom provider June 30. The district’s $385,022 annual bill is expected to go down to $165,810 over the course of the contract.

The board approved a maximum price for projects to expand and renovate the Bolin Administrative Center and complete the Flower Mound ninth grade campus. Both projects were approved and funded in the 2008 bond. The construction companies are charging $4.4 million and $1.5 million, respectively. Both numbers are within budget, according to board background material. It also approved an employee referral incentive as a recruitment tool in high need areas. A similar program was approved last year, which resulted in 16 new hires from 28 recommended candidates and $3,000 in incentive money paid to 14 school staff members, according to background material.

Board members cast votes for the Region XI Education Service Center Board of Directors, despite multiple members admitting they did not know who they were voting for.

The board received its monthly financial report and also discussed its open enrollment policy and school start times, which were changed to 7:45 a.m., 8:20 a.m. and 9 a.m. for elementary, high and middle schools last year. The change was to help make bus routes more consistent, and chief schools officer Joseph Coburn said that there had been an increase in on-time routes.

“When students are staggering into first period and they’re coming late and we’re having trouble getting breakfast in their hands, those instructional minutes start to shrink in first period,” he said. “Our goal … was trying to protect that time from when that first bell rings to when that last bell rings, and if busses don’t run on time it’s really hard to do.”

Board member Jenny Proznik was heavily critical of the committee that made that decision, noting that of the 44-member volunteer committee, only 14 attended all three informational meetings.

“I guess I would have liked a larger representation, if you will, than, I’ll be blunt, 14 people for a district of 53,000 students” she said.

Superintendent Kevin Rogers suggested increasing the size of committees in the future to account for attrition.

At the start of the meeting, the board received its annual update on the Child Nutrition Plan, along with related updates on the status of a potential increase of five cents to meal prices and the contract with Aramark Educational Services, which serves food for the district. The potential price increase would be the work of the USDA’s lunch equity tool, which calculates minimum prices for paid lunches to ensure that the revenue can support reimbursements for corresponding free lunch programs. Aramark is in the third year of a five-year contract. District CFO Mike Ball said both the price increase and the contract will be action items in the next meeting.

The Board of Trustees has one regular meeting each month, with workshop sessions to fill in informational gaps. Readers can find a full schedule of meetings on the board’s website.

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