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Chalmers Elementary School Principal Patti Mercer was present during Monday’s GISD board meeting during which time GISD Superintendent Bill Gravitt commended the campus for being recognized by TEA.

The GISD (Gainesville Independent School District) proposed tax rate and the budget for 2009-2010 were both approved by board members by unanimous votes during the regular board meeting Monday night.

The board held a public hearing for the budget and proposed tax rate at 5:30 p.m. and the regular board of trustees meeting at 6 p.m. at the GISD Administration Building.

GISD Board President Phil Adams said, “We will not be raising the tax rate. We are taking money from available funds so we are not raising the tax rate on citizens.”

GISD Business Manager Cindy Tatum said that the tax rate is the same as last year.

The general fund-maintenance and operation is $1.04 per $100 valuation.

The GISD debt service to pay the district bonds is .23532 per $100 valuation.

Adams said of the budget, “This is a balanced budget. We’re not passing a budget that has a deficit.”

Tatum and board members acknowledged that with all the changes in legislation and the federal stimulus bill, there are still factors that schools districts don’t have concrete answers for.

The discussion of the budget during the public hearing included student enrollment and it’s impact on the budget.

“When it comes to our funding,” said Gravitt, “it comes from the number of kids attending school.”

He said he doesn’t like to see it like that but that’s the bottom line.

Gravitt said that there are 83 students new to GISD this year.

Board members opened the regular meeting at 6 p.m. and immediately convened in the first executive session for over one hour.

After board members reconvened in open session, GISD Superintendent Bill Gravitt gave his report.

Gravitt introduced the new Gainesville High School (GHS) vocational and agricultural teacher Gary Couchman. Couchman graduated from Kansas State University and has 20 years of teaching experience.

Gravitt asked Hector Puente of Texas Sports Builders, the contractor constructing the track and turf at GHS, to give an update.

Puente reported that excavation of the running track has been completed. He said the concrete curves will be completed this week. In two weeks the drainage systems should be completed and they will lay down the turf within two weeks.

Puente said they will coordinate the completion of the track with other projects and vendors, such as those installing the bleachers.

Puente said that it will be about five weeks before the field is done.

During Adams’ board president report, he emphasized how proud GISD board members are of all the principals, teachers and staff.

“We are with you and behind you,” said Adams. “Hang in there, while we work to get this changed (TEA Rating). Our kids have done an outstanding job.”

He said test scores have gone up because students and teachers have worked hard.

“We have 71 students moving forward to college from this last graduation class,” said Adams.

Gravitt recommended that the compensation plan for 2009-2010 be approved. Board members approved the plan by a unanimous vote. Gravitt said the compensation plan runs for one year at a time.

Under the plan, raises for teachers’ will range from $800 to $1,900. For all other employees, there will be a 2 percent increase, based on the midpoint.

Adams said, “Over the last five years this board has continued to increase the pay for teachers and administration. We want to have the best.”

Board members unanimously approved the appointment of an intervention team. Karen Simpson will head the team.

Adams said, “Because of the grading we have unjustly received (TEA Rating) we are appointing an Intervention Team...Karen will help us turn it around.”

The Pogue Construction middle school change order was approved by the board by a unanimous vote. The change order is for money being returned to GISD for an originally overestimated cost.

Gravitt recommended to the board that the Cooke County Appraisal District contract for assessment and collection service be continued because they are easy to do business with and easy to contact and they are doing a good job. The contract was approved by a unanimous vote.

Will Presson said that the Appraisal District needs to present their budget to GISD and board members agreed.

Board members voted unanimously to approve the GISD student handbook for 2009-2010.

Gravitt said there were some small changes in the dress code which have been addressed in earlier meetings.

Member Roy Brewer said that some students have come to him to say it’s hard to find sweaters without hoods and can the district help to find stores or vendors where they can purchase sweaters with out hoods. Gravitt said they have been working on this and will continue to work on finding a vendor.

Gravitt said the Franklin operations maintenance facility for the school buses on Harvey Street and said that the district is working to enlarge a workspace there for the maintenance and repair of school buses. He said that eventually, the district may need to look for a new facility for this purpose.

Gravitt thanked Patti Mercer, Principal of Chalmers Elementary School, for her leadership on that campus.

Board members voted unanimously to approve the consent items which include the minutes from the last meeting, monthly bill list, cash flow statement, delinquent tax collection report, investment management report, financial statement and budget amendment.

Board members again held an executive session. After reconvening in open session the board took action to hire LaToya Allen as a Teacher/Coach subject to assignment at the Gainesville Middle School for the 2009-2010 school year.

All board members were present at Monday’s meeting. The next board meeting will take place Monday, Sept. 7.

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