The Melissa Independent School District Board of Trustees met Monday to receive various district updates and approve a resolution for the 2014 Board election. Before attending to the items on the meeting’s agenda, however, the board gave the floor to citizens who wished to address the board directly.
The first two citizens to address the board voiced their concern regarding the selection process for the district’s new superintendent. One citizen spoke in favor of Superintendent Dr. Robert Rich being named superintendent on a permanent basis; the other resident implored both the board and district members to trust ARROW in the selections they present to the board.
On Wednesday, the school board was to receive the finalized list of superintendent candidates in a special called meeting with ARROW, the service chosen to find a selection of superintendent candidates which would best fit Melissa. Interviews are set to begin starting Feb. 25, and the selection of semi-finalists for the position is scheduled to happen on Feb. 27. The board selection of its new superintendent is not scheduled to take place before March 25.
One resident, representing a much younger demographic than the board usually hears from, was the last to speak during the public forum section of the meeting. Rachel Wresh, an MISD student, was accompanied by her mother Jeana as she addressed the board directly.
"I am speaking on behalf of the many families and children of Melissa ISD who request the expansion of our current music programs,"said Wresh, "While we have an excellent band program that continues to grow and mature, isn’t it time to add a choral program?"
Wresh elaborated on her point by providing statistical data that showed a direct link between outstanding academic performances from members of choral programs. "We have many very talented vocalists in our community that have pursued their talents through other means. They would like to have the opportunity to represent Melissa ISD in UIL vocal competitions, represent their community in various singing performances, and continue to improve through course work at school. One way to make this happen is by adding a choral program with a dedicated teacher to implement a choir program throughout our schools. With the passing of the Tax Ratification Election by our community and newly available funds, we request that you implement this win-win fine arts program for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year."
The board received an update from Staci Kalmbacher regarding the speech and debate teams placing second in UIL competition before being updated on plant services by Kenny Deel. Karl Prince, a representative of PBK, the construction company heading up the efforts currently underway at the middle and high schools, was on hand to deliver the construction update to the board. The steel needed for the majority of the new band hall’s construction was set to arrive on Feb. 17, while the new high school track is on schedule and the underground utilities needed are nearing completion. As for the middle school expansions, the foundations for the field house and two other buildings are set to be poured as us the foundation for the expansions to McKillop Elementary.
Deel concluded his update by outlining a particular Friday in which the district will be holding seven different extra-curricular events which will require the use of school district transportation. The events scheduled for that day will push the district’s transportation abilities to its limit which shows the need for the addition of drivers and buses if the district is to meet the expectations of the coming years. The board approved a resolution regarding the upcoming elections for the MISD Board of Trustees, a topic which was the main focus on the majority of the rest of the meeting. The board specified that trustees who have served on the board for the current school year, whether they retain their positions by the end of the school year or not will be able to participate in the graduation activities for that year.
The board tabled the official finalization of the school calendar for the 2014-15 school year as there is currently a call to honor Veteran’s Day with a day off. The current dilemma surrounding the holiday being that if the holiday is given off, then the teachers will not be given much time to submit their finalized nine-week grades by Oct. 27.
Revisions to current facility use guidelines were the focus of the next item on the night’s agenda. The board voted to approve the addition of the uses of the middle school cafeteria and the multipurpose building to religious organizations whose members are composed of a large majority of Melissa citizens. The use of the buildings will mainly fall on Sundays and occasionally Saturdays. The use of the buildings will be within district guidelines which give the school district the ability to trump any previously booked occasion. The board has previously granted the use of the elementary school cafeteria to religious organizations for their uses and continues to adhere to federal regulations concerning the renting of facilities to religious organizations without discrimination.
Special meetings will be held in the coming week regarding the selection of a permanent School Board Superintendent on Feb. 19, 26,27, and 28.