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School supplies to be provided for younger students

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062622 school supplies livingstonThe Livingston ISD School Board recognizes the All-American cheerleaders, which include Shelby Flannery, Ashley Moore, Ja’Nayah Pickens, Savannah Ruiz, Lilly Haynes, Maci Hill, Mallory Lester, Jaxson Potter, and All-American Mascot is Jayson Potter. Courtesy photo

By Brian Besch
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The Livingston School Board approved purchases from the 2022-2023 school supply list for Pre-Kindergarten through eighth grades, highlighting the regular meeting for June.

Livingston ISD Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins closed Monday’s meeting expressing his appreciation.

“Our students will continue to need backpacks, and we will work to get the word out in our community,” he said. “Each year, many churches, community-based organizations, and individuals give out hundreds upon hundreds of backpacks to our students. Livingston High School does not have a school supply list, but their supplies are extremely dependent on what classes they take and minimal in volume. We appreciate the board approving this purchase to help our families.”

The meeting opened with student recognition. The Parade of Champions extended into Monday to include the Livingston baseball team on their successful season. Not only were the Lions district champions, they also earned bi-district and area championships, advancing to the regional quarterfinals. Team members include Chevy Peters, Caden Vickery, Damian Ruiz, Lane Ward, Ta McNeal, Gage Morris, Luke Jones, Blyson Vallejos, J.T. Smith, Kolton Clack, Stephen Scott, Jordan Bush, Kason Nelson, Josh Smith, Mitchell Hathaway, Jordan Huson, Cody Patranella and Copeland Bush.

Also recognized was Livingston All-American cheerleaders Shelby Flannery, Ashley Moore, Ja’Nayah Pickens, Savannah Ruiz, Lilly Haynes, Maci Hill, Mallory Lester, Jaxson Potter, and All-American mascot Jayson Potter. The cheer coach is Casey Fleming.

The board recognized Maci Hill for winning National History Day first place in Senior Division Individual Documentary. Leading up to the national competition, Hill earned first place at the regional history day event and at Texas History Day in Austin with her documentary titled “Communist in the Cornfields: Roswell Garst’s Citizen Diplomacy.”

The board approved an amendment to the 2022-2023 LISD School Calendar, which will eliminate flex days and add a five-day break in the month of October. Bad weather days are scheduled for the end of the school year, with a tentative graduation date of May 20, 2023.

“We will include semester final exams with an opportunity for students to earn an exemption based on good attendance and other factors,” Hawkins said. “Wehave always offered Saturday school, but students will need to make up attendance and credit as they fall below the threshold and not wait until the end of the year. We will have to be more proactive, and it will take the school, students, and parents to make this more effective. This new calendar will give much-needed breaks, allowing for recovery time for students and staff during the school year. The pandemic stresses have made an impact collaterally on all of us, and we must acknowledge this in how we operate.”

The quarterly investment report was presented by Ben Davidson, LISD Chief Financial Officer. The beginning balance on Feb. 28, was $41,015,391, and the ending balance on May 31 was $37,811,347. The interest earned in March was $9,592.64, April was $15,606.94, and May was $28,376.83. The board approved the quarterly investment report. The board also approved the adoption of an order authorizing and providing for the defeasance and redemption of certain outstanding obligations of LISD, authorizing the execution of an escrow agreement and containing other related provisions. The adoption will include redeeming the last maturity of the series 2017 bonds and saving $30,000.

Hawkins presented the personnel report, sharing a recent survey from a state teacher organization.

“Fifty percent of the members surveyed are either looking at retirement or walking away from the profession,” Hawkins said of the survey. “In February of 2022, the Bureau of Labor and Statics noted there were 380,000 educational jobs open. The Texas Association of School Boards noted after two years of uncertainty due to the pandemic, coupled with the ongoing challenges in the current educational environment, teachers are at a breaking point.”

The data observed by the Texas Teacher Shortage Task Force found compensation, student behavior, lack of institutional support, and lack of respect from community and parents were main causes for leaving the profession.

According to Texas Education Agency’s Commissioner Mike Morath, 69% of Texas teachers in classrooms that were certified for the 2021-2022 school year were alternative certified. Twenty percent of the teachers were certified through traditional means, entering college with plans to become a certified teacher.Morath presented data that teachers with four or more years of experience yielded students that performed better. Teachers with less than five years of experience and those alternatively certified make up a large portion of those leaving the field.

Over the past three years, the district turnover rate has been below or at the state average. At LISD, there have been 87 professional positions hired over the summer, which is an increase from the average of 50 normally hired. The teacher turnover rate this year is 31.6%, and paraprofessionals are at 28.5%.
“As a school board, you have done everything that is necessary to keep the district competitive,” Hawkins told members present. “Our employee salary schedule is competitive. You gave the district the flexibility to hire employee pools. If these things were not in place, we would have been like many of the districts in other counties with pages of openings and no pool to draw from, and unfortunately, they will open school with vacancies.

“This morning, we had three professional openings. We have more new teachers who are buying houses and investing in our community, and the vast majority of this group that we welcome are experienced teachers. We have a small group of new teachers that are LHS graduates, which is a reflection of hard work by everyone to recruit Lions back to Lion Country. It’s important to hire students that we ‘grow.’

“We have had turnover, but we have fortunately hired staff that we feel will be a good fit with our current staff. You have to take great pride that we are part of the most recruited school district in a 60-mile radius. Folks want our staff as teachers and administrators. This is a huge compliment, as I see it as the ultimate flattery of Lion Country. Our results speak for themselves, and we are only getting better each year.”

Under the consent agenda, the board approved an articulation agreementby Culinary Institute LeNotre and Livingston High School.

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Burn ban in effect for Polk County

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062322 polk co burn banCounty Judge Sydney Murphy signed a local disaster declaration Tuesday including an order prohibiting outdoor burning for the unincorporated areas of the county due to dry weather conditions and threat of wildfire. The purpose of the order is to mitigate the hazard posed by wildfires by curtailing the practice of outdoor burning.

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Low impact insecticides

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061922 low impact insecticidesTo ensure that you are selecting a product that will be effective for your insect pests, always read and follow the label.

By Matthew R. March, MNRD

Polk County Extension Agent

Managing insect pests in your garden, landscape or around the house can be very frustrating. What is more frustrating than a garden full of vegetables nearing harvest just to be destroyed in a matter of days by a pesky little insect? Insecticides should be your last option for control, and you should rely on non-chemical methods such as crop rotation. However, sometimes insect pest numbers grow to unmanageable levels and use of insecticides is justified.  Any insecticide you can purchase has been proven safe if you handle and apply the insecticide in accordance with the label. However, as good environmental stewards we should always resort to using insecticides only when it is necessary and if insecticides must be utilized first selecting a low impact (least toxic) insecticide that will control your pest. Lastly, some homeowners prefer organic insecticides, but it should be noted that not all low impact insecticides are classified as organic.

Insecticide soaps and horticultural oils kill small soft-bodied arthropods like mites, aphids and scales. Horticultural oils may be called dormant oil, volck oil, summer oil or ultrafine spray oils. These products are classified as being one of the safest insecticides, however it is recommended you apply store-bought products as they are generally safer to plants than homemade versions.

Microbes such as bacteria are everywhere in the landscape from the soil to the leaves. Many of these bacteria can be harmful to insects such as Bacillus thuringiensis, Bt, and spinosad. When Bt is consumed by insects a toxin is released that destroy cells in the gut. Spinosad is a natural toxin made by soil borne bacterium that affects the nervous system of insects. Both products are generally safe for people, however spinosad can be harmful to bees and other pollinators.

Insect growth regulators are copies of natural hormones that affect the growth of insects and such, affecting growth or preventing egg-laying. They are considered harmless to people and pets and can be very effective in stopping the life cycle of certain insect pests. Insect growth regulators can be found in products to control fleas, fire ants, mosquitos and caterpillars.

Cockroach bait stations, fire ant baits, and some slug and rodent baits are considered low impact because the pest feed directly on the bait requiring very little insecticide. Plus, baits can reduce the need to use potentially more hazardous sprays.

Boric acid is good for cockroach control and can be found in some cockroach control products. Boric acid is not toxic to the touch but can be toxic in high doses if swallowed by kids or pets.

Diatomaceous earth is a very popular low impact insecticide. Diatomaceous earth is fossilized diatoms that are abrasive. Diatoms are microscopic aquatic algae. The abrasive nature of diatomaceous earth cuts the exoskeleton of insects causing insects to dry out. Diatomaceous earth works best in dry conditions.

Botanical insecticides are derived from plants that make their own insecticides. Not all botanical insecticides are low impact and some can be very toxic. Popular products include pyrethrins, neem extract, mint oils and citrus oils. Botanical insecticides break down quickly after application so they are relatively safe for many beneficial insects that are not being targeted.

Selecting an insecticide can be very confusing. To ensure that you are selecting a product that will be effective for your insect pests, always read and follow the label. And when in doubt about what insecticide to apply or its toxicity, don’t hesitate to call the extension office.

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061922 student recognizedAlicia Coburn, a second grade homeschool student from Goodrich, was recently recognized by members of the Polk County Garden Club for her winning entry in a youth poetry contest sponsored by the local club. Coburn’s poem, entitled “Hours of the Daytime Choir,” placed first in the local club’s contest; placed first in the South Central Garden Club contest which includes Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas; and received honorable mention in the National Garden Clubs Inc. contest. Polk County Garden Club members Sharon Pollard and Andee Shaffer present certificates of achievement to Alicia as other club members watch – Heidi Newton, Patti Meyer, Paulette Stinson, Mary Ingram and Sherry Everitt. Also there were Alicia’s mother, Sarah Coburn, and her brothers, John, Lewis and Zeke. Alicia’s poem, “Hours of the Daytime Choir,” reads, As the morning dew drops fall, Birds sing a song of praise, I listen and listen till I see the sun, Going, going gone, And there right in front of me, Is the night black. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

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061922 summer library program“Bugs on Wheels,” a program from the Houston Museum of Natural Science, was recently presented at the Livingston Municipal Library and children were able to touch each of the specimens if they wanted to. Nehemiah, Analeigh and Noah Herridge look at one of the bugs that was brought. Penelope Jones enjoys petting one of the bugs. The children also got to see a beetle and a tarantula. This was one of six programs that will be presented at the library this summer. The next program will be June 20 at 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. and will feature Sue Kuentz, a storyteller. Another storyteller, Bernadette Nason, will be there at 11 a.m. on June 21. A third storyteller, Kim Lehman, will be there at 10:30 a.m. on July 6. The Museum of Natural Science will return on July 13 with docents and “Go with the Oceans” will be the topic. The Houston Museum of Natural Science on Wheels will return at 1:30 p.m. on July 15 and present a program called “Dinosaur Discovery.” All children are welcome to participate in the summer programs. Several weekly events are offered at the library. These include baby time on Tuesdays, story time for older children on Wednesdays and toddler time on Thursdays. The events begin at 10:30 a.m. The library is located at 707 N. Tyler Ave. in Livingston. Courtesy photos

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