By Brian Besch
The Livingston School Board heard a presentation on a new dual credit program and update on a plumbing issue at an elementary campus in Monday’s regular meeting for March.
Monday became a vacation day for Cedar Grove Elementary students, as a plumbing issue led to difficulties opening for classes. Livingston Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins expressed his appreciation to Brian Crossin and his team for their quick response in helping resolve the problem.
“The SSC Maintenance and Custodial, as well as campus staff, were phenomenal in mitigating the situation. We also appreciate Mr. (Nicholas) Glaeser for discovering and responding so quickly, or the water damage would have been much worse.” During spring break, new refill water stations were installed on the Cedar Grove campus. A capped waterline had malfunctioned, which led to a water leak. The campus was closed for students on Monday for cleanup and reopened Tuesday.
LISD Chief Curriculum Officer Lisa Cagle presented a “Pathways in Technology” and grant update to the board.
“Pathways in Technology, referred to as P-Tech, is an open enrollment program in high school allowing students to earn a certificate or associate degree,” Cagle said. “The difference between traditional career and tech courses is the partnership with local industry, ensuring our students are exposed to work-based learning all through their high school years. Local businesses have agreed to serve on the advisory board and give feedback on their needs for future employment.
“The program begins with ninth graders and will offer work-based learning with the goal of getting students a step ahead of traditional Career & Technical Education. Counselors will begin conferences with students and parents on their future high school plans. Lamar State College-Orange and Port Arthur, and Lamar Institute of Technology, will be partnering with Livingston High School in addition to Angelina College and Stephen F. Austin State University to provide credentials. Our teachers will be credentialed to be dual credit CTE providers through Lamar, and Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills will continue to be taught in our classes, with an emphasis on certain criteria as noted by Lamar’s syllabus.
“Because of the way the program is designed and accredited, ninth grade students will be the first to enter the program.” Cagle added. “The Texas Education Agency released the second blueprint of CTE P-TECH since 2019, so we do expect more future changes. We want to meet the outcome expectations of TEA, while also meeting the needs of our students. This particular grant for P-TECH is $400,000.”
Hawkins shared that the grant is mostly used for planning and capital investments.
“It will help cover our start-up expenses, and then the operational costs will be included in our budget,” he said. “We will continue to apply for grants through Workforce. We are doing a good job with budgeting and pushing the money out to the CTE programs, while meeting the needs of our students. We have a relationship with Stephen F. Austin, and we have a relationship with Angelina College, we are excited about our future relationship with Lamar College.
“This will allow us to shift our faculty to adjunct professors through the CTE realm. We have future plans for a grow-your-own program to earn a master’s degree in academics. Lamar needs our students in their program, and we need their syllabus and accreditation. This plan will dramatically increase our students’ attending college. We are getting college for our students without having to pay for it, we only have to get our faculty accredited. This is huge for our kids and our community. When we talk about vision, this whole piece is transformational for what we are trying to do and offering next-level opportunities for our students by allowing them to be a step ahead.”
The board approved the superintendent’s hiring authority during the spring and summer as an action item.
“We have to wait and see the outcome of the legislative session before altering the employee salary schedule,” Hawkins said. “One thing we can do is give a retention stipend to our staff members that are with us now upon their return in August. We know that compensation is important to our faculty and staff, and we do the best we can. When we find out what the legislature does, we will know how much of a salary increase we will recommend for the next school year.”
The board approved a 4% retention stipend for returning LISD staff as an action item.
Also approved was the consent agenda, which included minutes from previous board meetings, the financial statement, the quarterly investment report, and the payment of bills. Continuing under the consent agenda was the renewal of the student athletic insurance, a memorandum of understanding with Lamar College, and the purchase of four commercial ovens in the amount of $102,559. The ovens will be used at the Pine Ridge Primary, Timber Creek, and Cedar Grove Elementary campuses.