Henderson ISD is in an “elite group” of districts receiving an “A” rating by state’s accountability assessment. Assistant Superintendent Dr. Stephanie Bonneau presented the rating during her presentation to the school board during their regular monthly meeting Tuesday evening. 

“It’s just outstanding,” said Bonneau. “There aren’t very many districts that can publish that.”

Lindale and Bullard also received “A” ratings while Carthage and Kilgore received “B” ratings.

Bonneau explained to the board in great detail exactly how the rating was calculated for both the district and each individual campus. She noted that the district’s score benefitted by a nine percent increase in its ability to “close the gaps” in achievements across a variety of different student groups.

“It’s designed to be compliance with the federal Every Student Succeeds act,” said Bonneau as she explained the meaning of the phrase “closing the gap”. “If we meet the target, we’re closing the gap.”

The metric is just one of four separate areas taken into consideration when calculating the final rating. Bonneau said the district saw improvement in every area. 

On the campus level, Bonneau said she the high school received a “B”, the middle school a “C”, Northside Elementary a “B” and Wylie Elementary a “B”. Wylie Primary is not rated since the measurements begin with the third grade. 

Board Trustee Mary Sue Wolfe praised the newly refined system.

“Two things I like about it,” said Wolfe. “It includes [a measurement of] growth and it compares us to other similar districts.”

The board also got a first look at the upcoming school year’s budget, which the boars is expected to approve at the end of this month. Director of Finance Kristin Byrd presented a balanced budget of just over $32 million. Byrd said the revenues are based on estimates of the yet-to-be-released property valuations of $1.5 billion.

Byrd also explained the state has changed funding formula, now using tax assessments approved at the end of the budget year.

Board Chairman Jamey Holmes, somewhat rhetorically, asked why the state would switch from using known numbers to numbers that will not be known until after most of the funding has been paid. Previously the state used valuation from the prior year. 

“We’re going to propose a tax rate of $0.97 for maintenance of operations and $0.23 for interest and sinking,” said Byrd. The rate is seven cents less than last require, fulfilling a requirement by the state legislature to reduce school property tax.

According to Superintendent Dr. Thurston Lamb, the district’s budget for debt service initially shows a deficit of more than $1 million. However, after closer review, Lamb said they discovered that the 2017-2018 audit was wrong.

“She had to contact the audit firm and the financial advisor for the invest,” said Lamb. Byrd explained that the audit firm had not listed the last debt payment. After correcting the error, the district showed a $164,000 surplus in the debt service fund. 

In other business the board:

Approved an unchanged Student Code of Conduct for the coming year.

Approved a list of teacher appraisers and a calendar outlining when the appraisals will be completed. 

Approved Ted Beard as its choice to serve on the Texas Association of School Board’s (TASB) Board of Directors.

Reviewed the campus handbooks for the new school year. Following a brief discussion, Lamb said that his staff would be looking at tying the handbooks closer to the Code of Conduct for the next school year.

Heard a report by Lamb detailing recent administrative training and new teacher orientation events.

“Research has told us that we lose more new teachers in the first three year in the profession than any other time,” explained Lamb. “And it’s not because of the pay, it because they didn’t get the support. So we want to ensure we are supporting our new staff members.”

Heard a first reading of TASB recommended changes to district policy. Assistant Superintendent Shannon Bennett highlighted the changes in the policy resulting from the recent legislative session and other recommendations. 

Set a special called meeting for Wednesday, August 28th, at 5:30pm. The board is expected to approve the current budget at that meeting.

Set the next regular board meeting for Tuesday, September 10th, at 5:30pm.

Held a closed door session to discuss the hiring of several new employees.

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