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Polk County News - Breakout

GISD approves lower proposed tax rate

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082122 goodirch isdSchool taxes have fallen for the fifth consecutive year.

By Brian Besch
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The Goodrich ISD School Board approved a proposed tax rate and operating budget in their regular gathering for the month of August Thursday in the administration building.

There is good news for those looking to pay a little less in taxes, as a proposed rate of 1.0315 was accepted. That would be down a bit from the 2021-22 number of 1.0656. 

This would mark the fifth consecutive year school taxes have decreased. A combination of higher appraisals and an increase in population have contributed to the tumbling numbers.

Goodrich ISD will work with a budget of just under $3.5 million this academic year. A little over two-thirds of that will go toward payroll, and 17% to contracted services. Another 8% will go to miscellaneous operating fees, 5% to supplies and the final 3% to capital outlay.

In the recent Texas Education Agency report card, each of the schools were scored on three different criteria. 
Student achievement measures whether the students met expectations on the STAAR test. It also measures graduation rates and how prepared students are for success after high school. School progress shows how students perform over time and how the districts performance compares to other districts with similar economically disadvantaged student populations. Closing the gaps tells how well a district is ensuring that all student groups are successful.

Goodrich ISD graded a 74 overall out of 100. They were not rated (campuses were not given a failing mark for the first graded year from Covid) for student achievement, given a 69 in that area, while school progress scored a 79 and closing the gaps was not rated, but graded a 61. Goodrich High School has a score of 77, the middle school a 78, and the elementary a 54. 

“Something that is very exciting about the high school, we did get distinctions in math and social studies,” high school principal Aubrey Vaughan said. “That is very good. I am happy to see that math distinction because that is a tough one to get.”

A distinction is a comparison of 20 schools similar to Goodrich in size. Those schools that are top performing receive a distinction.

“We’ve got some areas to work on,” Vaughan said of the elementary school. “We are fully staffed this year and the increase in students this year at the elementary has hit a little bit harder than the high school and middle school. We are full down there, but the teachers are super excited. I talked to them today and I am excited about this year. I think we have a lot of good things coming.”

With school beginning on Thursday, maintenance has been working diligently to finish projects. The air conditioning on buses have been reserviced. The restrooms are finished and functional and just awaiting a punch list to be opened. Final walk-throughs are getting scheduled.

Around 13 windows are left to be installed as of Thursday morning. The windows will still need to be trimmed with some painting on the inside. Work on the weekends will help in finishing that goal. The district has had five air conditioning units repaired over the past week and two more will soon undergo repairs. There are around 35 units in the district, with six that have been replaced.

The facilities have been toured with Constable Scott Hughes’ deputies for tactical planning. Gas line tests have been performed and are in working condition.

Recently, school lunches were increased for staff to $3.50 per lunch and $1.50 per entree. On Thursday, school lunches were raised from $3.50 to $4.00 per lunch and $1.50 to $2.00 per entree for visitors. 

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Council to review, consider budget

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082122 council reviews budget

The proposed budget for fiscal year 2022-2023 will be reviewed and considered for approval by the Onalaska City Council during a special called meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.

Council will review and consider approval to authorize a service provider, to be named, to provide administrative services for the Community Development Block Grant Mitigation funding from the Texas General Land Office.

Also on the agenda is review and approval to fill a full-time police officer position with the standard six-month probationary period.

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LISD hoops coach dies

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082122 lion hoops coach dies

By Brian Besch
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Livingston basketball coach Calvin Phillips died Tuesday night following medical complications.
Phillips resigned for the 2022-23 school year in order to have hip areplacement surgery on both legs. The process was supposed to take around nine months before he could return on light duty.

Just before the surgery, blood work was performed and the surgery was canceled after it was found there were issues. A few weeks later Phillips was diagnosed with bone cancer. He took injections for treatment in his hips.
He died Tuesday night in his sleep at his home.

Livingston athletic director Finis Vanover hired Phillips in 2006 at Angleton to become his head basketball coach. The two met when he was head coach and athletic director at West Columbia. Phillips there was the athletic director, head football coach and head basketball at different points in time. He took over Lion hoops in July of 2020.

The coach had stops at Cleveland, Wharton, Columbia, Stafford, Brazoswood, Angleton, Dickinson, Brazosport and Livingston since 1978.

“He was a great, great family guy,” Vanover said of his friend. “He loved his kids. He and Rodney were close. He raised his grandson, who just graduated from Manvel year before last and he plays basketball at Sam Houston.

“He was very family-oriented and a deeply religious guy. He was a tremendous mentor for his family and the kids around him. He went around and did tons of stuff quietly in the background for kids in the community and families everywhere he had ever been. He was a down-to-earth and caring type of guy. He was passionate about his profession and coaching. He was hard-nosed when he had to be and just as fun loving and genuinely kind all at the same time — whatever mask he had to wear to get to each individual kid.”

Funeral arrangements are set for E. Viola & Sons Funeral Home in West Columbia, Texas. The funeral will be Saturday, Aug. 27 at 11 a.m. A viewing and memorial service will be 5-7 p.m. the day before at Life Foursquare Church in Angleton, Texas.

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Texas ISDs rated by TEA

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report card epsThe Texas Education Agency’s report cards for public schools in the state of Texas were revealed this week, and Polk County school districts brought home an A and four B’s. Some of the individual campuses earned high marks, but a few schools will need improvement to bring up a low score, according to the TEA.

Each of the schools were scored on three different criteria. Student achievement measures whether the students met expectations on the STAAR test. It also measures graduation rates and how prepared students are for success after high school. School progress shows how students perform over time and how the districts performance compares to other districts with similar economically disadvantaged student populations. Closing the gaps tells how well a district is ensuring that all student groups are successful.

Grades are similar to report cards issued by some schools, with an A ranging 90-100, B 80-89, C 70-79, and a “not rated” score is anything below 70.

Corrigan Camden ISD performed the best of Polk County schools with a score of 90 to receive an A. The district received 89 out of 100 for student achievement, 91 out of 100 for school progress and 88 out of 100 for closing the gaps. Corrigan-Camden High School was given an 88, while the junior high scored 83 and the elementary received a 90. 

Onalaska ISD was a point away from the coveted A, scoring 89 for the district. Student achievement received an 86, school progress was 90, and closing the gaps was given a mark of 85. Onalaska Junior/Senior High School scored a B with an 85, and the elementary notched an 89.

Big Sandy ISD missed an A by two points with an 88. They received a 90 for student achievement, 92 in school progress, and a 79 for closing the gaps. They were scored for grades K-12.

Leggett ISD received a B with 82 out of 100. Student achievement was a 71, school progress scored 89, and closing the gaps was not rated with a score of 64. The high school just missed a B with a 79, while the elementary was also not rated, scoring 59.

Livingston ISD received a B grade, scoring 81 out of 100. In student achievement, Livingston scored a 78. An 81 was given for school progress and an 80 was scored for closing the gaps. Livingston High took a C score of 78. The Livingston Academy received a “not rated” scored a 69. Livingston Junior High produced a 72, Creekside Elementary a 91, Cedar Grove Elementary 87, Timber Creek Elementary 91, and Pine Ridge Primary a 91.

Goodrich ISD graded a 74 overall. They were not rated for student achievement, given a 69 in that area, while school progress scored a 79 and closing the gaps graded a 61. Goodrich High School has a score of 77, the middle school a 78, and the elementary a 54. 

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County VFDs fight multiple blazes, receive donations

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Georgia-Pacific invests $16,000 in local firefighters

FireFighter 200pxGeorgia-Pacific is hoping to give some relief to area firefighters as they continue to battle an active fire season in Texas. The extreme hot weather has resulted in fire departments seeing a significant spike in brush fires — and with limited resources — most volunteer fire departments are feeling the heat when it comes to keeping operations running smoothly during one of the driest seasons in the state’s history.

“Georgia-Pacific understands the vital role volunteer firefighters have in East Texas communities,” said Yana Ogletree, Georgia-Pacific Public Affairs Manager. “For many years Georgia-Pacific has invested in area volunteer fire departments, whether it is helping to purchase new tankers and life-saving equipment or funding training and operations.” 

Polk County volunteer fire departments have busied themselves fighting blazes caused by lightning strikes and individuals burning illegally during a county ban. Livingston Fire Chief Corky Cochran said all departments have trekked north to battle fires in Corrigan and Camden over the past 10 days. Many have been in wooded areas and difficult to locate, according to Cochran. The department recently purchased a drone that has aided in that process.

‘Lightning strikes are causing it,” Cochran said. “We may get a little shower, but it is so dry. Then, we’ll get a call or two for an illegal burn. The burn ban is in effect until the county lifts the ban. All they have to do is make a phone call. (If they burn during a ban), it is going to be a fine, and maybe a trip to jail.”

Recently, the local building products company donated $16,000 to volunteer fire departments in Corrigan, Livingston, and Onalaska. 

Receiving $10,000 from Georgia-Pacific, The Corrigan Volunteer Fire Department will use the money to upgrade their trucks. 

“These funds come at a time when we have been inundated with brush fires,” Corrigan Volunteer Fire Chief Jimmy McDonald said. “With limited equipment, high fuel costs, and outfitting firefighters with the appropriate equipment, we can use all of the donations we can get.” 

Despite the financial challenges small volunteer fire departments face on a regular basis, Corrigan is planning for the future and is raising funds for a new facility. According to McDonald, the department has secured land which will eventually be home to a new fire department.

Georgia-Pacific is also donating $5,000 to the Livingston Volunteer Fire Department. With a 37-member force, Livingston firefighters cover not only the city of Livingston, but approximately 250 square miles of Polk County. 

“We actively work more than 500 calls each year while also providing backup to the other ten departments located within the county,” said John Haynes, Livingston Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief. “Georgia-Pacific’s contribution is significant and greatly appreciated. The funds will help us obtain more rescue equipment and they will provide additional capital to purchase a new pumper unit.” Haynes says the new pumper truck, which will be used to take the pressure off an aging fleet, is scheduled to arrive in the fall.

Serving the Lake Livingston area, the Onalaska Fire Department is receiving a $1,000 donation from Georgia-Pacific to purchase equipment and training. 

“Georgia-Pacific is a continuous supporter of local volunteer fire departments in Polk, Angelina, and Sabine counties. Georgia-Pacific is proud to partner with local firefighters who dedicate their lives to keeping our families, homes, and property safe. Thanks to their bravery and tireless efforts, we can all rest easier knowing help is only a phone call away,” said Ogletree. 

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