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Grapeland ISD Calls for Election

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Unmodified Audit Opinion Received

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND – January is School Board Appreciation Month and the administration, faculty, staff and students of the Grapeland Independent School District took time on Monday evening to say thank you to the seven trustees who serve on the GISD Board.

As the Jan. 18 regularly scheduled meeting of the GISD Board of Trustees got underway, GISD Superintendent Don Jackson addressed the board members.

“Thank you so much for what you do for our district. As it has been said, we are truly a Team of 8. I believe we are unstoppable and I believe we have done some really great things here in Grapeland. I truly believe we are the school of choice in Houston County. It’s okay if someone else doesn’t think that, but we feel good about what we are trying to do here. Thank you so much,” he said.

Once the superintendent concluded, gifts were presented to the trustees from the administrative team, the secondary, elementary and Early Learning Center campuses.

The seven school board members are: James Martin, President; Melissa Cobb, Vice President; Kendra Huff, Secretary; Allen Cheatham, member; Josh Goolsby, member; Ryan Richie, member; and Brad Spisak, member.

Following the board appreciation, Jackson provided his monthly report to the trustees.

The superintendent questioned if the board would like to move the next scheduled meeting from Feb. 15 to Feb. 22 because of the district being off for President’s Day. After a brief discussion, it was decided to move the meeting to Feb. 22.

Jackson also addressed the recent passing of longtime GISD Coach Jerry Richards.

“We are saddened to report on the unexpected passing of Coach Jerry Richards. He was a faithful Grapeland ISD employee for 38 years Jerry was athletic director here, head football coach, head baseball coach, head golf coach and I think he even coached a little basketball. We have been asked what we can do to honor him. Some of his ex-players have asked if we could possibly name a field or a gym or stadium after him. I told them I would bring it to you guys and we would discuss it further. He was very dedicated to our school district and I would love to honor him,” he said.

Concerning enrollment and attendance, the superintendent indicated there was “… a total of 656 kids who have been through our school. Presently, our number sits at 606. At the high school campus, we have 169 kids but the highest number we have had all year was 180. At the junior high, we have 136 kids with 147 kids who have been in and out. At the elementary, we have had 329 kids who have been in and out and presently we sit at 301.”

In reference to COVID-19 stats in the district, Jackson said there were currently no staff members with the virus, but added 24 students were currently out because of close contact with those who tested positive. 

As the meeting continued, Mike Brotherton, with the accounting firm of Belt Harris Pechacek, LLLP, provided the GISD board with the results from the recently completed 2019-2020 financial audit. He reported the district received an unmodified opinion, which is the highest rating available.

During his presentation, Brotherton said the district had an ending fund balance of $4.6 million, up over $900,000 from the previous year.

“The rule of thumb is you want at least three months or 25 percent of your annual expenditures in the fund balance and I think the district is currently at 74 percent,” he said. 

After the audit presentation, GISD Business Manager Julie Martin discussed details of the upcoming 2021 election.

“Our Uniform Election Date is May 1, 2021. The hours of operation that day are 7 am to 7 pm at this exact location (GISD Library). The early voting dates are April 19 through April 27. The hours are 8 am through 4 pm in the Administration Office. The positions up for election right now are Position One for an unexpired two-year term; Position Three for a full, three-year term; Position Four for a full, three-year term; and Position Five for a full, three-year term,” Martin said.

The election judge will be Elizabeth Reynolds and the early voting clerks will be Kristi Streetman and Julie Martin.

In other matters brought before the board:

  • Consent agenda items were approved.
  • A resolution regarding an extension of time to use emergency paid sick leave for the 2020-2021 school year.          

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

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