The monthly meeting Tuesday night of the HISD (Henderson Independent School District) started out with Superintendent Dr. Thurston Lamb telling the Board of Trustees that the month of January is designated as Board of Trustees month.

“This is a time we recognize the School Board for their dedication and commitment,” said Dr. Lamb.

David Chenault, Director of Communications then played three video clips from several campuses of students honoring and thanking the Board for their support of the students and their schools.

After Dr. Lamb’s enrollment and attendance report Eric Harper approached the Trustees in person while Kristin Byrd streamed in remotely to give HISD’s 2019-2020 Annual Financial Audit Report.

“This has been a challenging year having to do most things remotely,” said Harper. “The district is in an outstanding financial condition this year. However, we will see effects of the current economic condition for the next two years because of COVID-19.”

Harper then told the Board even though they have a very good surplus of approximately $2 million dollars from their 2019-2020 Budget that was not spent to be cautious because of the uncertainty of receiving fewer funds within the next couple of years.

Shortly after the audit presentation Shannon Bennett approached the Trustees for a need of two additional school buses to add to the existing fleet. Bennett told the Trustees that he had received three bids, two for a 71-passenger gas bus and one for a 71-passenger diesel bus. The costs ranged from $92,091 to $99,995 each.

“I recommend that we purchase two buses from Longhorn Bus Sales because we have a good relationship with them, they are close by and parts are available in a reasonable time,” said Bennett.

The total cost for the two buses are $187,460. But before the Trustees approved the agenda item they moved to the next agenda item that was a request to purchase an activity bus.

A discussion then started among some Trustees why the district needed an activity bus to maybe two buses were needed instead of one. Others thought the money should be spent on other needs, such as the demolition of existing buildings or stipends for employees that was also on the agenda.

Dr. Lamb told the Trustees that he believed that the district needed two if not three activity buses in the future but he was only comfortable with buying only one activity bus right now.

The Trustees agreed and approved the purchase of one activity bus from Longhorn Bus Sales in the amount of $125,139 that includes a wrap.

They also approved the pre-demolition asbestos abatement and demolition of the Central Achievement Center buildings A and B of approximately $150,000.

The administration requested that the Trustees approve a stipend for the 515 employees in the district. According to Amanda Wallace there was approximately $230,000 remaining in the 2020-2021 Budget for an unused stipend fund and offered four options to the Board.

Option one was for $500, option two was for $750, option three was for $1,250 and option 4 was for $1,500. The Board after much discussion agreed to option four in the amount of $1,500 per employee with a budget impact of $606,000 with $376,000 coming from the fund balance.

Also approved were several items presented by Dr. Stephanie Bonneau. She presented the need for a professional development waiver, Instructional Materials Adoption Committee for Pre-K adoption and the academic calendar for 2021-2022.

After the regular session the Board of Trustees went into executive session to discuss personnel recommendations. After the session a decision was made by the Trustees to approve a 10-month probationary contract for the remainder of the 2020-2021 school year.

Debbie Trujillio, Instructional Technology Coordinator has been employed with HISD since August 2020. She came to the district from Duncanville ISD where she served as the Instructional Technology Coordinator for 15 years. She holds a Master’s Degree in Elementary Education and has 23 years of experience.

Stephanie Gatlin, Health & Wellness Coordinator has served as a school nurse for HISD for 14 years. She is a registered nurse and has a Bachelor of Nursing Degree.

The Trustees also approved the resignation of Ellie Ebanks, a teacher at Henderson High School. The Trustees found that her resignation gave no valid reason as good cause and believed that Ebanks abandoned her contract. The Board further stated that her choice to abandon her contract has caused hardship on the district due to the difficulty of finding a certified replacement and chose to pursue sanctions against her certification with the State Board of Educator Certification.

The next regular meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, February 9 at 5:30 p.m. in the HISD Boardroom.

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