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'Latexo ISD Will Carry On,' Superintendent Says


By Alton Porter
News Reporter

Fresh on the heels of the election two days before in which voters narrowly turned down their tax ratification proposition, members of the Latexo Independent School District Board of Trustees convened a regular meeting Thursday, Nov. 9. And little was said about the election lost. The only comments on the matter were made near the end of the meeting when Board Vice President Kelly Nicol brought it up, asking Stacy Easterly, LISD superintendent, "Do we have anything about the election results?" as Easterly was wrapping up her monthly report to the trustees. "That was on my report, too," Easterly said. "The TRE (tax ratification election) did not pass. I have stated that our community has spoken. "Latexo ISD will carry on and we will do for our students as we normally always do, which is to do the very best we can in providing the very best education in Houston County, which I think we do. "And we have the best teachers in Houston County. And we will pick up and carry on and move forward from here." Asked if district officials will request a recount of the votes cast in the election, the superintendent answered, "We can't talk about that. That was on my report that it did not pass by a very, very, very, very small margin." The proposal was Proposition A on Houston County election ballots cast in the LISD. It was defeated by 17 votes, 151 electors casting ballots "For" the proposition and 168 balloters voting "Against" it. LISD's ad valorem (or property) tax rate is $1.204 per $100 of assessed property valuation. That rate is made up of a $1.04 maintenance and operations (M&O) rate and a $0.164 interest and sinking (I&S) rate. Had the proposition on the Nov. 7 ballot passed, it would have permitted district officials to reduce the I&S rate by about 13 cents and to add that amount to the M&O rate. That would have reduced the I&S rate to about three cents while raising the M&O rate to about $1.17. Easterly has said those changes in the M&O and I&S rates initially would have brought about an increase of about $140,000 in state funding to the LISD over the period of a school year. A matter discussed at greater length by Easterly, the trustees, Athletic Director Ray Stanfield and other administrators at the meeting is the district's proposed athletic drug screening program introduced by Stanfield at the board's October meeting. After agreeing with Nicol's suggestion to broaden the program to cover the all the district's University Interscholastic League (UIL) participants—athletic and academic—and other discussion, the trustees declined to take action to approve and implement the planned program until after changes to it are made and it is reviewed by a Texas Association of School Boards staff member. Once approved, the program would be projected to take effect next school year. As Stanfield did at the Oct. 12 meeting, he initiated discussion on the matter Thursday, noting changes that have been suggested. "Tammy (Luce, superintendent secretary,) and I updated, through the company that we're using, the things that we had talked about in here before— things that are in red or what we changed or updated or reworded to get it to the point where it is right now that it's what we want," Stanfield said, referring to a marked-up copy of the program he had placed in the trustees' meeting packets. The part of the program that covers consequences of testing positive for drug use is one in which adjustments were made, Stanfield said. In the changed document, the penalty for the first offense is suspension from participation in athletics or other UIL activities for 20 school days, the athletic director said. Punishment for a second offense is a 30-school-days ban from all UIL athletic and academic participation, and sanction for the third offense is suspension from UIL activities for a calendar year, Stanfield said. In their revisit of the program, Stanfield said, they decided to hold two mandatory meetings instead of one at the beginning of each school year, one of which each student athlete or UIL participant and his/ her parents must attend to learn about the screening and drug use before initial testing would be conducted the week after Labor Day each school year. Random tests would be conducted on at least 25 percent and no more than 50 percent of student athletes and other UIL participants after Thanksgiving and before Christmas each fall semester, and probably during February during the spring semester. After a test reveals a student has drugs in his/her system, he/ she would be required to undergo screening each time a test is given—scheduled or random— until three tests show the student is free of drugs before his/her name will be taken off a list of offenders.


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