BY EMILY GUEVARA, email@example.com
The Tyler ISD board of trustees approved the guaranteed maximum prices for upcoming renovations at Rice and Dixie elementary schools.
The prices are $12.27 million for Rice and $11.72 million for Dixie. TISD spokeswoman Dawn Parnell said the projects came in under the expected budget. The combined total is almost $24 million.
The work is a part of the $160.5 million bond package approved in May by school districts voters. Three middle schools and a career and technical education center also will be built with the funds.
Work is slated to begin on Rice over the winter break and Dixie will follow after that. Both schools are slated to open in fall 2015.
At both campuses, existing buildings will be renovated to like-new condition while new wings will provide new gym, classroom, cafeteria and administrative facilities.
Ms. Parnell said construction on the foundation for the district's career and technical education center is slightly behind because of the poor weather.
However, she said, the district expects construction workers to catch up. That project is being built off Earl Campbell Parkway near the Tyler Junior College West Campus.
In other business, the board also heard a report from Chief Academic Officer Dr. Christy Hanson about improvement plans related to special education and bilingual/English as a second language programs in the district.
The Texas Education Agency flagged those district programs because of certain data that falls outside of state-prescribed boundaries.
TISD has an overrepresentation of African-American students in special education. It also has too many incidents of special education students being assigned to out-of-school and in-school suspension.
With the English as a second language students, they are not performing as well as they need to be as a whole on standardize tests at the middle and high school levels.
Dr. Hanson said the district is addressing the issues in several ways. For special education, they are trying to create a better intervention system to meet struggling students' needs, as well as make sure that students who have medical reasons for their behavior receive accommodations, but are not categorized as special education.
As far as ESL students, the district has provided teachers with special strategies for instructing these students, made sure all teachers are certified in English language proficiency standards and provided incentives to encourage existing TISD teachers to become ESL certified.
They're also working with teachers to help them learn how to better differentiate instruction for different student learning levels and styles.
And finally, campuses now have access to data that can help them see how their campus is doing in certain struggling areas.
Dr. Hanson said the focus through all of this is on the students and that's where it will remain.
"We have a culture of doing what's right for each individual kid," she said.
In other business, the board:
n Approved a $66,800 proposal from Garrett General Contractors to remodel and modify the upstairs restrooms in the district Administration Building.
The upgrades will bring the facilities up to building code and compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The work will be paid for with money from the special projects fund.
n Approved upgrades for the audio and visual systems in the Dr. Jack L. Davidson Conference Center where they have their meetings.
The $32,000 upgrades will include adding 10-inch HDMI flat-panel monitors and upgraded microphones for each board member, along with new PA amplifier systems, a 5,500-lumens high-definition projector, wireless microphones, new connections to the TISD TV studio and a touch panel control system.
The price includes materials and labor. The project's funding will come from the Superintendent's Allotment, according to the district information.