Latexo ISD Readies for New School Year

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

LATEXO – The Latexo Independent School District (LISD) board met Thursday, July 13 to discuss the preparations for the soon-to-begin new school year, along with proposals for changes in taxes and the school menu pricing. 

The board heard the report of LISD Superintendent Michael Woodard, who reported the pay structure and stipend program for teachers and administrators has been a success and will continue for the coming year. LISD uses a “step” program where raises are built into the pay structure as teachers achieve seniority in the district. LISD added a new tier this year for teachers who have been with the district for 24 years. Woodard and the board set dates to discuss budgets and taxes next month. 

The board was asked to approve a slight increases to the school lunch menu. This prompted a lively discussion among the board members, as administrators explained the restraints the district faces between feeding the students and complying with federal laws. 

Federal laws dictate the number of calories, salt and other fats allowed in school lunches. The board pointed out the amount of calories can vary widely by student, especially those involved in athletics. They also noted the district has a four-day school week, which leads to longer days than those envisioned by these requirements. 

The federal government monitors the food distributed by schools and will cut off funding for any school not following those guidelines. Those kids not able to pay for meals can still get two meals a day, but the board was interested in how to make the food more exciting, more filling – and more appealing so more students would eat in the cafeteria. It was noted the school cannot offer the food left over in many instances, leading some board members to complain about the strict rules from Washington leaving many kids starving by the end of the day. 

The kids can still get breakfast and lunch for $5 a day, with adult prices set at $7, with the increase for kids totaling about $45 per year, “…not bad, considering grocery prices these days,” according to one administrator. 

LISD has surveyed the kids themselves – over 100 at the elementary school eat the school lunch – to make sure they are cooking food the kids want to eat and will eat. The board approved the price increase, with one board member voting against it, until he could try the food for himself. 

The board was provided with a request from the Houston County Appraisal District (HCAD) which is asking local tax entities to forego any refunds of unused funds to raise money to build a new building to house HCAD offices. 

The board will vote on the measure at their next regular meeting, but board members expressed concern over the measure, worried the agreement would give up any refunds in the future, too, limiting fund available for school operations. 

LISD School Board President Kelly Nicol told the board they would officially vote on the matter in the next meeting, but in his opinion, “We have a hard enough time paying our own bills. We need to use our money to educate kids.”

Woodard updated the board on construction projects getting finished at the different campuses, noting teachers return Aug. 1 and students Aug. 7.

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected] 

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