Natalia ISD approves interlocal agreement with Medina County, purchases AVID curriculum set

Natalia ISD Board members approved an interlocal agreement with Medina County for the collection of delinquent taxes and agreed to bring the AVID program back to the district in the Regular meeting held May 8.
Board President Eric Smith, Secretary Jack Bradley, Jr., and members Andrew Besa, Eric Owens, and Tiffany Rodriguez were in attendance. Vice President Paul Almendarez and member Fernando Garza were absent.
Superintendent Dr. Hensley Cone, Assistant Superintendent Donald Stewart, NHS principal Dr. Jane Harris, NJHS principal Edgar Camacho, ECC/NES principal Anna Lopez, and Business Manager Barbara Flores were also present.
Medina County tax collection agreement
Medina County Tax Assessor-Collector Melissa Lutz addressed the Board regarding the school district’s agreement with the County for delinquent tax collection.
Lutz informed the Board that she had recently made the decision to go with the law firm of McCreary, Veselka, Bragg, and Allen for delinquent tax collection.
“Our county is growing,” Lutz said. “We need more services, I need more services, in the office. Twenty-five taxing entities gets to be a lot, and with the new developments and things going in, I just thought it would be beneficial to everybody to move to a larger firm.”
Lutz said she felt that MVBA offered the best services while still retaining a small-town, local way of doing business, including working with people who are behind on their taxes instead of immediately taking legal action.
“I took it to the Commissioners Court, and they hired the firm of McCreary, Veselk, Bragg, and Allen,” Lutz said, “and what I’m asking now is that school districts will follow suit and do the same so that we can share one attorney and get a lot less headaches.
“I think they will do a phenomenal job for us.”
The County’s contract with MVBA is for three years, but cities, school districts, and ESDs can terminate interlocal agreements after one year.
The Board voted unanimously on a Bradley-Rodriguez motion to agree to the terms of the interlocal agreement as presented for the upcoming year.
Stewart addressed the board about the AVID (Advanced Via Individual Determination), a non-profit that provides researched-based curriculum to help students develop critical thinking, literacy, and math skills in order to succeed in college.
The total cost to implement AVID curriculum sets across the district, including the NHS and NJHS libraries, is $28,732.
Smith pointed out that the district had previously had AVID for a number of years until a former administrator terminated the program.
“Of course the upfront cost for bringing the program back into the district is going to be a little more than it would typically be throughout the rest of the school years as we move subsequently through,” Stewart said. “Because we’re purchasing the library components as well, that’s where the additional cost is.”
Thirty staff members, 10 from each campus, will receive training and professional development in AVID this summer.
“We’re going to make sure it works,” Cone said, “because it’s not going to work unless you have everybody there understanding what’s going on.
Cone ran the AVID program while in San Marcos, and Stewart has previous experience with it as a teacher. Stewart and Curriculum and Instruction Director Lori Robinson will be the district coordinators, and each campus will have its own coordinator.
“It’s a very structured process,” Cone said.
The Board unanimously approved an Owens-Besa motion to accept the purchase over $25,000.
The Board voted 5-0 on a Rodriguez-Bradley motion to accept the resignations of Daniel Gonzalez, math/science teacher at NJHS; Kay Yaegel, Special Education Aide, NJHS; Matthew Thomas, social studies teacher at NJHS; and Rachel Ramirez, kindergarten teacher at ECC.
2017-2018 Personnel Recommendations
“Just to note that all teachers included, all these recommendations are getting contract renewals for the 2017-2018 school year,” Smith said. “I’ll be signing the contracts tonight, and hopefully they’ll be getting them soon.
An Owens-Besa motion to accept Cone’s recommendations passed 5-0.
Superintendent hiring authority
Smith explained that NISD traditionally allowed Superintendents to offer contracts for non-administrative positions over the summer because teachers they wanted to hire accepted positions elsewhere between Board meetings.
“It’s my recommendation to allow our Superintendent to continue to do what has been done here,” Smith said.
Cone said he would relinquish his authority in September or October.
A Rodriguez-Besa motion to grant Cone hiring authority passed 5-0.
Global Training Academy, Inc. agreement
Flores recommended accepting a one-year contract with Global Training Academy, Inc. for drug detector dogs and handlers for a total of nine searches at NHS and NJHS. Each search costs $150, for a total of $1,350. The contract runs from Sept. 1, 2017, through May 31, 2018.
No drugs had been found at either the NHS or NJHS campus during GTA searches during the 2016-2017 school year.
“That’s a good problem to have, them not finding drugs,” Smith said.
A Bradley-Rodriguez motion to accept the contract passed 5-0.
Student insurance
Flores recommended basic participant accident insurance and catastrophic medical insurance through Health Special Risks, Inc., underwritten by Mutual of Omaha, for the 2017-2018 school year. The plans cost $19,139 and cover Pre-K through Grade 12 students, including athletics and activities.
It is secondary coverage that picks up after students’ primary coverage.
A Rodriguez-Owens motion to accept the insurance passed 5-0.
School Health Advisory Committee report
District Nurse Valerie Taylor that the SHAC had met five times during the school year.
“We’re going to do a health fair for the community and school and see how that goes,” Taylor said.
Taylor added that work on nutrition had been put on the back burner since the 2016 presidential election, as the new administration is already in the process of lowering nutritional standards.
“We are looking at bringing in people to give flu vaccinations here on site so people don’t have to go off site to do it,” Cone said, “along with several other health screenings at the beginning of the year, maybe, on a teacher work day, so that we can get some of that stuff taken care of.”
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer