The Melissa School Board of Trustees met Monday to address the public endorsement of a choral program, the current status of district construction projects, a sizeable allotment from the Texas Education Association and take the final steps necessary to officially hire Dr. Keith Murphy as the new superintendent of schools.
The final step to make official the new superintendent hire will be an announced special meeting scheduled by the board for March 25 at 6 p.m. to officially hire Murphy as superintendent of schools.
"I feel very good about Mr. Murphy. I know it wasn’t an easy process for the board, and I wish you would have made a different choice," said Interim Superintendent Dr. Robert Rich. "But having met Mr. Murphy I am very excited to be working with him and I think he’s going to be a great fit for the district."
The board has received a considerable amount of phone calls, e-mails, and concerned citizens speaking up at meetings to implement a choral program. Over the past three days, a petition endorsing the inclusion of a choral program has been circulating among the schools and thus far 137 students from grades 5 through 11 have signed. The fine arts building currently being constructed at Melissa High School includes a choral room which reflects the district’s future intentions of including the program. The board wants to complete its final steps in the superintendent transition process before proceeding with any major additions or revisions to the current programs and course availabilities. Rich has been in close communication with Murphy in order to ensure an updated and smooth administrative transition.
"I have been sharing the information that people have been forwarding me, the notes from conversations from that people have come by, feedback that I’ve gotten from some of the board and staff members. In particular, he understands this is a top priority issue that needs to have a decision made quickly," said Rich, who assured the board of Murphy’s awareness of the public outcry for a choral program. "He was very open but understandably cautious. I was encouraged by how diligently he has been going through the information I have been forwarding. I expect he will be working for the board very early in April."
Learning Services Administrator Staci Kalmbacher updated the board regarding the success of the writing "boot camp" known as Writers of Outstanding Talent or WOOT, which the district has been holding once a year in either spring or fall for the past decade. The workshop was held over spring break to help outstanding fourth grade student writers work on their writing strategies within a highly focused environment with specialized attention in small groups and one-on-one tutoring.
Plant Services administrator Kenny Deel, along with representatives of Pouge Construction, delivered the construction update on the various projects currently underway in Melissa Independent School District. With all projects proceeding on schedule, the structural steel at the fine arts building is in place, the walls at the field house have been completed with the steel trusses to be delivered in the coming week and the track and turf at the new football field is to be completed in the coming weeks. Despite the cold weather impeding the progress for the pouring of the concrete foundation at the new high school gym independent specialists onsite ensured the foundation was poured properly.
Deel addressed safety concerns surrounding the construction efforts and the proximity to students before school and between classes. Deel and Pouge work to maintain an arrangement of not accepting deliveries in the hour between 7:45 a.m. and 8:45 a.m. on school days. Deel also detailed damage caused by flooding which took place over the weekend due to large amounts of rain on the construction site which also spread to areas of the high school.The problem was attended to quickly, and although puddles amassed in a section of the hallways and band hall it was dried up with the help of school staff.
There was also an incident over the past week in the Berry Farms area of Melissa. The wiring harness of a 2007 model school bus over heated, disabled all power on the bus and emitted smoke. No individuals were harmed and the incident was handled swiftly, while the vehicle was repaired without cost to the district.
MISD received a mid-sized school adjusted allotment from the state in the amount of $847,000, which is allotted to small to mid-sized schools. Areas such as Melissa which do not have a large population or industry but do have a considerable number of students and a growing school district will qualify for allotments such as the one given. The allotment was included in the budget with the board passing an amendment.
"It’s not too often that we get to say we’ve gotten good news back from the TEA; we continue to haggle with the TEA about the funding they’ve sent to our district. They have recognized that they did not reconcile their databases and that they owed us $847,000," said Rich.
The district received a second donation from Rickie and Jan LaFon in the amount of $5,449 for the Melissa High School’s junior and senior proms. The first donation from the LaFons was given to the school district earlier in the fall.
The Melissa School Board of Trustees approved the school calendar for the 2014-2015 school year which details 175 school days with students present. The calendar was approved by all board members with the exception of Anthony Figeroua, who believed the school district should recognize and observe Veterans Day with no school.
"My final thought is that we go to school 175 days, the state recommends 180, we cut five days out of school so I would be very curious of other school districts who might go 178 days with students present. There’s got to be some wiggle room for observance of that important day," said Figueroa.
The board of trustees voted to continue with the current grading scale that is already in their policy. A policy revamping the grading scale had been previously approved by the board but never implemented. It was struck out of the district policy in favor of the current scale mostly for the sake of the students who are in their final semester of high school.
All candidates in the Melissa School Board elections are certified unopposed, board voted to cancel the May 10 school board elections.
Enrollment numbers continue to climb with a slight bump in the post spring break enrollment numbers. The total number of students enrolled in MISD is said by Dr. Rich to be approximately 1,920.