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VAISD Gets Clean Bill of Health from Auditor

Leader Photos by Rodney Williams  Keys: VAISD Board President Kurt Himmelreich (center) fellow trustees and Superintendent Dr. John Spies present respected district employee Lannie Barnes with keys to a much-needed new work truck.Buy Photo
Leader Photos by Rodney Williams Keys: VAISD Board President Kurt Himmelreich (center) fellow trustees and Superintendent Dr. John Spies present respected district employee Lannie Barnes with keys to a much-needed new work truck.

Monday night’s regularly scheduled meeting of the Van Alstyne ISD Board of Trustees was a microcosm of the community of late; there were solemn moments, a heartfelt plea to powers above to care for one of their own and joy over the achievements of other students in the district.

And in the middle of it all an extremely deserving district employee accepted the keys to a much-needed new work truck. More on that later.

The meeting room at the VAISD administration building was very nearly literally packed for Monday night’s meeting (and if the Fire Marshal is reading this, I said nearly.) The reason for the massive boost in attendance was recognition of a group of Van Alstyne High School sophomores who scored in the top 10 for each area and composite score for the PLAN test. As VAHS Principal Dr. David Brown explained it, PLAN is a barometer for “how well kids will do on the ACT test they take in the spring of their junior year.”

These students were presented their Academic Awards for Excellence medals in three groups: Bronze (scored in top 10 in one area), Silver (top 10 in two to three areas), and Gold (scored top 10 in four to five areas.) The Bronze group consisted of James Burts, Michael Fontenot, Patrick Gerzina, Reid Jaska, Orion Lacy, Madison Matheny, Reagan Reece, Ashley Russell, Raigan Servati, Parker Terrell and Brady Welch. The Silver group consisted of Isaiah Boling, Riley Cooper, Remi Eklund, Leslie Hunter, Hannah Lopez, Landon McLain, Hannah Morris and Hearth Thomas. The Gold group was Jeffrey Frazier, Will Jones, James Matisi, Mary Perkins and Hannah Smith.

The meeting started off on a solemn note as board president Kurt Himmelreich led those in attendance in prayer and asked for strength to help 16-year-old Riley Sprowl who was paralyzed in a four-wheeler accident on Dec. 11 and remains in guarded condition at Parkland Hospital in Dallas.

Steve Davis serves as auditor for the district and he presented findings from the 2012-13 audit. Among the interesting nuggets was the announcement that the district has a total fund balance of $1,812,467 meaning the district has enough to operate for 2.23 months if necessary, though Davis said he would like to see that figure rise to three months. Davis also stated that the district’s general fund showed $9.8 million in revenues and $9.4 million in expenditures with an increase of $119,355.

“This is a clean report,” stated Davis.

VAISD Superintendent Dr. John Spies gave his report to the board. He informed the board that the district had zero reported cases of Shigella (an infection that causes high fever, vomiting and diarrhea) which has been found in Sherman ISD schools. Spies gave his maintenance/transportation report on Monday night, stating that the district employs five full-time bus drivers, two substitute drivers and has five bus routes with a sixth likely in two years. According to Spies, transportation costs for 2012-13 were $153,250, down 50 percent over the past two years.

Among the district’s maintenance needs as presented by Spies were new lighting systems for gyms and parking lots at an estimated cost of $300,000, an irrigation system at the middle school, improved drainage at the high school and a dedicated grounds worker. A list of facility fixes over the past months were the repair of the high school’s irrigation system, nearly complete baseball and softball field renovations and the removal of the track surface at the middle school for patching.

At this point in the program, Himmelreich called for a recess to honor the district’s maintenance and transportation director, Lannie Barnes. It seems Barnes had been putting miles and time in on an older standard half-ton Dodge pickup in dealing with the district’s maintenance issues. The truck was woefully inadequate for the task and the board had decided at a previous meeting to do something about it. The board took Barnes out to the parking lot and presented him with a new 2014 Chevy work truck, dropping the keys into his palm and making his night.

With the meeting back in session, trustees voted to approve the 2014-15 school calendar pending district committee approval at the county level. The district has moved the 2015 spring break back a week to March 16-20 which is at the end of a quarter and before the beginning of the final quarter of school.

BOARD NOTES: Spies will request a waiver for bad weather days from the state. He will request the waiver in March…The district suffered ice storm-related damage as the elementary school lost some air conditioning units and guttering.