Joey Dierker, an associate with Southwest Securities, said GISD could save money by lowering the interest rate from 4.4 percent to 2.9 percent. The issuance, scheduled in six weeks, would occur only if the rate could be lowered to a maximum of 3.5 percent, and if the savings were at least $115,000, he said.
At the current interest rate, Dierker told the board, the savings would total $145,000.
“This (refunding) is what we’ve done several times,” said School Supt. Rick Albritton, who said the school was trying to obtain lower interest rates and that the savings could be $140,000-175,000. He told The Mirror the total savings would depend on the interest rate. (Dierker added Tuesday the savings could exceed $140,000-$175,000, but that this range is the projected amount.)
In other business Monday, the board heard Technology Director Rusty Ivey discuss the updating of technology in local schools.
Ivey said the district is considering procuring iPads for students, but evaluating different computer-related devices since iPads are not compatible with the school’s current equipment. Under what is called a “one-to-one initiative,” he added, all students would have a computer-related device which they can use at home even if their house has no Internet connection.
He said he wanted pupils to be protected at home from accessing “inappropriate things” on the Internet, and that most schools require parents pay for an insurance policy for damages to devices. Students don’t yet take them home, but that is the goal since they can work with electronic textbooks there, he said.
Board Member Todd Tefteller expressed concern that “sending something home like this” could result in such problems as theft. “I’m not saying I’m carte blanche against it,” Tefteller said, adding he just wants to talk about it.
Responded Albritton, “We’ll have to create a policy” on that. “This is a long-term, down-the-road” issue and “there’s a lot of policy issues that will have to be addressed,” the superintendent added.
Ivey said GISD almost has a 1-to-1 situation at Gilmer High School, as students are bringing some kind of device with them, such as certain types of phones. (Albritton said more than 400 of the school’s 600 pupils are using their own devices, but that some students don’t have them.)
In addition, Ivey said the district had bought a few devices, tested them out, developed a plan, and spent $6,000-$7,000 on the high school’s wi-fi structure alone as “we ran the wires ourselves.”
In instructional areas of the campus, he added, Gilmer High has several “wireless APs” (Access Points) which can handle 25-30 devices each, and the vocational building has computer laboratories.. “There’s a lot of devices that are connected to our wireless network at any one time,” Ivey noted.
Technology work is scheduled at other campuses, he added.
GISD has also applied for free help from the computer giant Microsoft, and the district upgraded its e-mail server during Christmastime, said Ivey. It is awaiting a future update, he said.
In other business, the board heard and viewed a presentation by GISD Athletic Director/Head Football Coach Jeff Traylor on how his football team’s captains are selected, and their leadership roles. It in part featured a video of three captains discussing how they felt about their roles.
Traylor, who has coached the Gilmer Buckeyes to two state championships in four state title game appearances, said a council in Dallas had him speak on developing a Captains Council. He said that on his first day on the job 14 years ago, he developed a mission statement based on the Biblical verse Colossians 3:23 (the King James translation of which says “And whatever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.”)
He said the first group of captains he had in the 2000 football season developed an acronym of “PRIDE”—Pride, Respect, Integrity, Discipline, Every Play—and that the word PRIDE is still on the back of Gilmer athletic caps.
Captains are picked by selecting 8-10 players from various positions on the team, who “try out to be a captain” with 6-10 competition teams which seniors pick, he said. The captains’ jobs include teaching a character trait, and Traylor said he wants to give “my vision to my captains,” who in turn give it to their teammates.
The captains also are to eliminate complaining by groups, he said.
“I try to save one knucklehead and give him a leadership responsibility,” said Traylor. He told board members they would be surprised how many of those type youths make his best leaders.
In other business Monday night, the board conditionally approved purchasing a used bus for special needs students for $59,900 from American Bus Sales in Collinsville, Okla.
School officials were authorized to make the purchase only if they find the bus in suitable condition. If it is not, the board will consider buying a new one, expected to cost $92,000-$94,000.
Albritton said Medicaid funds from Upshur County’s Special Education Co-op should cover the cost.
GISD Transportation Director Steven Schoon said the 2008 model bus has 32,000 miles and a 90-day warranty. (He said he believed a new bus would have a 3-year one.). The district’s current special education bus is a 1993 model with 300,000 miles, and Schoon indicated it is becoming difficult to obtain parts for it.
Tefteller instructed school officials, “When you go get it (the used bus), look at it real hard.” He said if they sensed anything wrong with it, the board would buy a new one.
“(If) we see something wrong with it, we will not purchase the bus,” Albritton pledged.
Trustees also Monday night, in separate votes, approved changes in the cheerleader policies at the high school and Bruce Junior High.
While the high school policy has “very few” changes, Albritton said, the new junior high regulations will now have the school providing a “wind suit” (warm-up suit), while cheerleaders will buy their own uniforms. The school principal (Dawn Harris) has the authority to approve uniform designs.
The number of junior high cheerleaders will also be reduced from 14 to 10, the number used by other area schools, said Albritton.
In other business Monday, the board approved bids for three items related to food service—a dishwasher, tables/seating at the intermediate school, and an oven at the high school.
The board also approved the final “reading” of a Texas Assn. of School Boards policy update.
At last month’s board meeting, Albritton said that under the new policy, switchblades are now allowed in schools. He clarified that at Monday night’s meeting, saying that although the state had removed that restriction from its penal code, Gilmer ISD policy prohibits local students from bringing such knives to school. (Even pocket knives are banned in GISD.)
After a closed session, the board approved the $35,000 purchase from Elliott Dean of two tracts totalling about one acre at 819 Buffalo St., Albritton said Tuesday.
The site, near Gilmer High School, adjoins the school district’s property and is just north of GISD’s bus parking area, the superintendent said. While there are “no specific plans right now” for it, the best use for now would probably be additional parking, Albritton said.
A house on the property will be cleared from it, he said.