By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – The Grapeland Independent School District Board of Trustees met in a relatively short, regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, April 17 to take care of some housekeeping items before the end of the 2016-2017 school year.

The meeting was highlighted by the board’s approval of plan to become a “District of Innovation.” GISD Superintendent Gregg Spivey explained the district might not use all of the options available by becoming a District of Innovation but added, “It will nice to have them.”

During a February meeting of the GISD Board, Spivey expounded on what this meant for the district.

“Becoming a District of Innovation will give Grapeland ISD more local control and allows the district more flexibility to implement programs and procedures that best fit the needs of our students, staff, parents and community,” the GISD Superinte
ndent said.

He added it would give GISD more local control over matters such as the school year start date, certification flexibility, class size ratio and student attendance. In essence, it would basically give GISD some of the same allowances charter schools receive, Spivey said.

As the Monday night meeting continued, the superintendent informed the trustees Senate Bill 2145 which concerned the re-structuring of school finance was moving forward in the Texas Legislature.

“It does do away with the 300 square mile penalty that Rep. Trent Ashby and Sen. (Robert) Nichols have been trying to do away with. If this bill goes through, it will help our school and a lot of other school districts that are under 300 square miles,” he said.

Spivey added the proposed voucher bill had been quashed by the Texas House of Representatives but said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick was still “pushing for it.”

Prior to the District of Innovation discussion, Board President Eddie Childress took time to recognize the Grapeland Sandies basketball team for making it to the Class 2A State Semifinals last month.

“I asked Athletic Director Wayne Mahaffey if we could have the opportunity to tell you how much we appreciate this year and all of the work you put in for Grapeland High School. You may think sometimes as members of the school board we don’t notice y’all, but we like being there to watch the games and what y’all do. We appreciate the coaches – Coach Earp and Coach Cooper – and we appreciate the representation of our school,” he said.

“It is important to us to have young men of your caliber to have the drive and commitment that will bring you to the level we reached this year,” Childress said. “We just wanted to say thank you for representing us. Sometimes we don’t give you the recognition that you deserve, but we wanted to let you know individually and as a group, we appreciate each and every one of you.”

In other matters brought before the board of trustees:

  • The auditing firm of Belt, Harris, Pehacek LLLP was approved as the district’s financial auditors for the 2017-2018 school year.
  • A retainer for the district’s legal firm of Walsh, Gallegos, Trevino, Russo and Kyle P.C. was approved.
  • Consent agenda items were approved.
  • Teacher Appreciation Week will be held the week of May 1 through May 5.
  • Grapeland Elementary Principal Don Jackson informed the board the STAAR test would the second week of May.
  • The board was also reminded an informational meeting on the elementary bond issue will be held on Thursday, April 20.
  • A probationary contract was extended to Megan Simison and a term contract was extended to Ann Stephens. The board also accepted the retirement paperwork of Karen McNeive.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.