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Highlights from AISD May 2019 school board meeting

The Amarillo ISD school board said farewell to three trustees and welcomed three new trustees at its May 21 meeting.

Out-going trustee Jim Austin was honored for 17 years of service on the board, F. Scott Flow was honored for four years of service, and John Betancourt also was honored for four years of service.  Mr. Flow served as president of the Board for the 2018-2019 school year; Mr. Austin was president in 2005-2006, 2012-2013, 2013-2014, 2016-2017, and 2017-2018.

Flow, Austin and Betancourt each received commemorative chairs, engraved with the AISD seal and their names and years of service.

The oath of office was administered to newcomers Kimberly Anderson, Alonzo Everhart and Dick Ford, who were each elected on May 4 to four-year terms on the school board.  The oath of office was also administered to Robin Malone who was appointed to the board in September 2018 to fill an unexpired term.  Ms. Malone ran unopposed in the special election on May 4 for the unexpired two-year term.

The board recognized the members of the Caprock Marine Corps Junior ROTC Drill Team for placing second overall and first in the color guard competition at the Marine Corps JROTC drill team national competition in Washington, D.C., making them the top Marine Corps JROTC drill team in the country.

Trustees honored one National Merit Scholar (Sawyer Archer), seven National Merit Commended students, and three National Hispanic Scholars with certificates and congratulations. Trustees also honored 10 middle school students who were selected for state recognition in the 2019 Talent Identification Program (TIP) sponsored by Duke University.  These students scored at or above the 95th percentile on college entrance exams as 7th graders.

Following an annual tradition, trustees Scott Flow and John Ben Blanchard read a list of students across the district who placed in state or national athletic, academic, or fine arts competitions in 2018-2019.

The board set June 17, 2019, as the date to hold a public hearing on the 2019-2020 school district budget and proposed tax rate.  Trustees also voted to propose a 2019 tax rate of $1.239 per $100 property valuation, which is the same as the 2018 tax rate.  The tax rate will not be officially adopted until later in the summer, and Chief Financial Officer Pati Buchenau said the proposed rate will likely change depending on how or if the State Legislature addresses current public school funding issues.

The board directed the Superintendent to initiate a process outlined in a newly-revised policy to consider renaming Lee Elementary School.  The directive is in response to a request by the NAACP that the board consider changing the name of Lee again.

In January 2018, after receiving community input on both sides of the issue, the board took action to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School to Lee Elementary School, effective at the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.  The process for re-naming an existing facility now calls for the Superintendent to work with the Districtwide Educational Advisory Council and engage parents in developing a list of potential names before returning to the board with a recommendation. 

Finally, trustees approved Tri-State General Contracting Group as the contractor for a bond project that includes infrastructure improvements at Bonham Middle School, and Sleepy Hollow, Western Plateau, Puckett, Windsor, Ridgecrest and Paramount Terrace elementary schools and a classroom addition and library renovation at Sleepy Hollow.  This project is estimated to cost $8.4 million, about $500,000 under the original bond budget. 

The board acknowledged gifts and donations totaling $29,044 given to various schools this month from Thai Thai Restaurant, Mr. and Mrs. Stanton Morris, Affiliated Foods, Inc., Volleys for Veterans, Joni and Adam Stone, Five Guys Burgers, Seana Strand, the Sleepy Hollow Elementary 5th Grade Committee, Pantex Plant, Amanda and Omar Gutierrez, Randy Burkett and Burkett Outdoor Advertising, Betenbough Homes, Happy State Bank, South Georgia Baptist Church, and First United Bank.  Others are the Amarillo Association of Realtors, Shane and Jessica Westbrook, Lincoln and Laura Storrs, Aaron and Sallye Barnes, Panhandle Ushering Service, and the Hall Family Fund of the Ayco Charitable Foundation.

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