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The Royal Brigade band received an award for their recent appearance on a news station. COURTESY PHOTOThe Royal Brigade band received an award for their recent appearance on a news station. COURTESY PHOTO

From Enterprise Staff

The Livingston band was awarded and updates on emergency management and construction were given at November’s Livingston ISD Board of Trustees meeting Monday.

Chuck Kramer and Jason Haden with Kramer Autoplex opened the meeting by presenting the Livingston Royal Brigade with the Chevy Spotlight Award. The band was recently spotlighted during a news segment on KHOU Channel 11, Inside High School Sports. Band director Emily Albert and assistant directors Jesse Albert, Daniel Munson, and Candice Cozart, along with members of band leadership accepted the award.

Dr. Brent Hawkins reported on the district logistics of the emergency management plan. The superintendent said he was proud of how district employees reacted to the recent shelter in place due to a chemical fire in Shepherd.

“When districts go into a lockdown, hold, or shelter in place, it inherently makes the job of the staff in that building exponentially more difficult. There are things that have to continue and go on, but there are also additional duties and responsibilities that go above and beyond the regular school day. I appreciate the outcome that we had in the chemical fire, and that outcome is because a team pulled together and executed the emergency management plan. Lana Smith is our director who is responsible for ensuring the plan is of quality by meeting state compliance, that our stakeholders are communicated the plan via training, and that it is practiced.

“The plan includes best practices put out by the Texas School Safety Center, but Lana Smith ensures that the plan works for us here in Livingston. Mrs. (Jennifer) Birdwell and the communications department disperse information on the website and communicate it to our stakeholders. I sent an email to the district and gave appreciation to the Polk County Emergency Management staff. If there wasn’t clear communication between the county emergency staff and the LISD staff, we simply would not be successful.  Our staff act as loco parentis, which means “in place of parents,” and they do not take that responsibility lightly in these situations. They treat the students as their own children. That’s what public servants do, as evidenced by such emergencies as Sandy Hook.”

Hawkins said there are contingency plans for everything imaginable, including evacuation of the facilities. If the chemical fire had dictated different circumstances, the district would have had to evacuate 4,060 students and 600 employees.

“This would, in essence, be an evacuation of the entire city the size of Livingston, which doesn’t happen without proper planning, training and practice. We continue to train with the hopes that it never happens, but we are ready. Our families have been through several emergency scenarios, and they are to be applauded as the vast majority understand the language and terminology involved in these situations. We execute the plan based on each unique situation and the facts that we have. We have an inordinate number of parents who are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing. I want to assure the community that the staff is protecting their children. During these situations, it is crucial that we continue the successful implementation of our plans or chaos develops. For example, if 4,000 people call into our phone lines, we do not have 4,000 phone lines to receive that many calls. Another example would be when we go into a “hold” or a “shelter in place,” no one can come into or exit the building, as this could put someone in danger and, at minimum, distract staff from focusing on their job at hand. Our staff continues to show leadership at every level of our organization during these times, and I’m thankful we have good people in our district who can be depended on.”

Board member Mandi Pipes said, “I wanted to reiterate how well all of our staff did, that our leadership was excellent, and everyone did a fantastic job. I know the teachers are in the classrooms with students a lot longer than normal.”

Hawkins later gave the board a construction update on the new football stadium.

“Our facility committee met, and Mrs. (Lisa) Pearson has enacted the survey. The geostudy signed off on Wednesday. The board facility committee discussed the pre-schematic design with the architect. We anticipate the schematic design will be at the January meeting. We will need to approve a timeline and a timeline with the construction manager at risk and will go out for bids and bring back a guaranteed price in late spring. This facility will be something the students and our whole community will be proud of. It has been a long time since the district has had this opportunity. We have seen districts even close to us have bonds that fail or districts that have bonds that pass for athletic purposes, and we haven’t had to go down either of those roads. The 2015 tax ratification election set the district up for a sound financial future, and since that time, the school boards have all operated fiscally conservatively to make this happen. My best description is that this is a miracle of school finance in the pines, as you just do not see districts fortunate enough to operate and make these moves without raising taxes.”

Included in approved items under the consent agenda were the purchase of transfinder bus software for $91,822, campus and district plans, and a budget amendment.

The board approved casting 834 votes each for Mike Nettles and Dan Ellis for the Polk County Appraisal District Board of Directors. The remaining 96 votes were split, distributing 32 votes each to Pam Pierce, James Arnett, and Tom Curran. 

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