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Bandera school board recognizes student achievements

By Steven James BCC Editor

Congratulating the Students of the Month, discussing technology updates in Bandera High School’s library, earning top distinctions for standardized exams and approving a method for renovating the Hill Country Elementary School On-site Sewage Facility were among the topics discussed at Bandera Independent School District’s Board of Trustees meeting Monday night.
The meeting, which began at 6, focused on praising students for their achievements, especially for helping Bandera schools earn distinctions for the SAT, ACT, STAAR and end-of-course (EOC) assessments.
“We get distinctions, we’re happy, but then we’re still waiting on one more thing: we’ve got to compare ourselves to somebody,” said Bandera ISD Curriculum and Employee Services Director Gary Bitzkie, who gave the academic distinctions presentation. “We are very proud to say that every one of our campuses has met standard, and we have distinctions all the way across the board.”
Six BHS students received distinctions, Bitzkie said.
Bandera ISD’s SAT performance is slightly higher than the national average in Mathematics, and a little lower in the Critical Reading and Writing subtests, according to a school district graph. The lowest score was in Writing, which was slightly less than 480 out of 520, also according to the graph.
In addition, the school district’s composite ACT score slightly rose these past two years from 20.6 to 22.1.
Nearly 1.7 million students took the SAT in 2015, according to PrepScholar, a website that prepares students for college entrance exams. The average scores in 2015 were 495 for Critical Reading, 511 for Mathematics and 484 for Writing, but the averages for 2016 are not yet known, according to the website.
Nearly 1.9 million students took the ACT in 2015, according to PrepScholar. The average scores from that year were 20.4 for English, 20.8 for Mathematics, 21.4 for Reading and 20.9 for Science. The average composite score was 21, according to the website.
Bandera ISD Superintendent Regina Howell praised the students’ distinctions as part of her superintendent’s report.
“I truly believe that an SAT score and ACT scores is something that comes from all teachers, pre-K through 12,” Howell said. “I remember the days many, many years ago when we were struggling to meet the average.”
Alkek Elementary School earned the Attendance Flag for having the highest attendance rate in the district for the first six weeks. Alkek’s attendance rate was 96.86 percent, Howell said.
Bandera High School Librarian Jettie Whilock gave a presentation about BluuBeam, a service that sends information to the phones of library patrons. BluuBeam, which was originally created for public libraries, is now being used for school libraries, Whitlock said.
BluuBeam uses small, circular beacons to transfer information to patrons that are 40 feet adjacent to them. Beacons can inform students about library resources and school events, Whitlock said.
One beacon is in the school office hallway, another in the athletic hallway, one next to the library, one in the history and art hallway and one next to the cafeteria, she said. Anybody who downloads the smartphone app can use the service.
Whitlock said she had not decided to go school-wide with the service until recently, because she wanted to see what stumbling blocks BluuBeam had.
“It is going to be a technology that you are going to see growing with time,” Whitlock said.
Going school-wide with the service will cost $1,060, according to the meeting agenda.
Bandera ISD Facilities Director Ed Barnes gave a presentation about the need to develop a plan about updating Hill Country Elementary School’s old On-site Sewage Facility.
“Each year, the operation and the function of that plant has diminished, and there has been more problems as time went on,” Barnes said. “It really became evident the plant’s function was rapidly going downhill.”
The board unanimously voted to approve adopting a method. Barnes said he was working with an engineer to see how exactly to improve the plant, as well as to develop a budget.
The board also unanimously adopted the 2017-2018 school year calendar, and to increase the district-wide retention pay from $150 to $300. Employees will receive a check and a letter in the mail, Howell said.
Bandera High School Principal Sergio Menchaca presented the Students of the Month award to student ambassador Morgan Gross and Future Farmers of America member Caleb Vick, both of whom received plaques.
The board also voted unanimously to approve the consent agenda as presented, which included the minutes for the School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) hearing, tax rate hearing and meeting minutes on Sept. 12, the budget status and investment report, the quarterly investment report, the curriculum and instruction report and the facilities report.
A link to the meeting agenda can be found on the Board of Trustees’ website.