Louise ISD trustees addressed facility renovations, the upcoming school year and learning materials for in-class and at-home education Thursday.

During his report, Superintendent Garth Oliver addressed the current COVID-19 situation and planning ahead for the 2020-2021 school year.

The Texas Education Agency released guidance on June 23 for Texas schools to follow for in-person education in the fall. Districts cannot require students to attend in-person and must decide whether they will provide remote learning opportunities to students.

The situation “is evolving minute-by-minute, day-by-day,” Oliver said. “We’re getting more direction, more ideas.”

LISD is waiting on Wharton County Central Appraisal District information before trustees discuss the 2020-2021 budget. Tax rates will likely be discussed in August. The district’s current maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rate is $1.06835 per $100 valuation, and the district does not have an interest and sinking (I&S) rate.

A tentative date of Aug. 3 was set for a budget workshop, and July 20 was set as the date for a preliminary evaluation for Oliver. Trustees discussed holding Oliver’s full annual evaluation once the district has data on student test scores.

For the first time in about 10 years, LISD will purchase new English Language Arts textbooks. Trustees opted in a 5-0 vote, with Amanda Cox and Alfred Ochoa absent, to purchase 45 textbooks for about $24,200.

English class sizes at Louise High School are typically no more than 23 students, according to LHS Principal Donna Kutac, so there should be enough books for each student to keep one at home.

“If we just have a class set, it would be very difficult to let students who don’t come to school during this unusual year to … do the work if they don’t have internet or wifi,” Kutac said. “That was a huge thing this past year.”

The books come with accompanying online materials that could be used in the case of a district COVID-19 closure.

The Texas Education Agency released a list of waivers on June 25 that school districts can apply for due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These waivers include extending the due date of the annual financial audit, CPR Instruction requirements, and faculty appraisals.

LISD trustees voted 5-0 for Oliver to apply for all of the COVID-19 waivers as needed. The district already submitted a waiver from the instructional days requirement due to days missed because of the pandemic.

Other meeting decisions include:

The board opted to delay a decision about paying employee insurance premiums until more information about the 2020-2021 budget is available.

A unanimous motion passed to purchase a new tractor for the district at an estimated $29,000 to $32,000, with a possible discount if the district trades in its current tractor.

Trustees voted 5-0 to renew the district’s building and vehicle insurance contract with Property Casualty Alliance of Texas.

The board unanimously approved the replacement of concrete next to the campus clinic and band hall for a maximum amount of $18,000.

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