By Alton Porter
Engineers and architects hired to draw up plans for the proposed new Grapeland Elementary School are on schedule in their planning, according to President Eddie Childress of the Grapeland Independent School District Board of Trustees.
Childress reported that news to the rest of the trustees and others present during an update and discussion on the elementary school building project at a regular meeting of the board Monday, Aug. 21.
In answer to a question from trustee Melissa Cobb, asking how plans are coming with the new elementary, Childress said, "As far as they (Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong architects) are concerned, they're on schedule. They said it would be mid-November before we have final plans."
After plans are completed, bids for construction of school facilities will be solicited by district administrators from then through mid-January, Childress said. Then, construction would begin in mid-January or February, he explained. "Everything that they're showing us, I'm excited about. I think it's where it's supposed to be."
Most of the update and related discussion about the elementary school project centered around efforts being made for the drainage of rainwater on and around the site of the proposed school during heavy rainstorms that produce accumulations of six or more inches of water in a short period of time.
GISD Superintendent Don Jackson said he, Childress, Grapeland Mayor Balis Dailey and Grapeland City Councilmembers George R. Pierson and Will Watson met last week with Larry Lasiter, Goodwin-Lasiter-Strong (GLS) vice president, and Jed Morris, one of the corporation's engineers, to discuss the drainage matter.
"I guess the main thing I want everybody to know is we're making an effort (to address a potential problem) because we know the issues we have with drainage in this part of town," Childress said.
"We're making an effort to do everything we can to keep water off other people's property. We wanted to make sure everybody is on the same page as far as that we recapture as much of the water that's coming off our property and that it stays on our property."
He said Grapeland school district and city officials will meet again with GLS representatives to discuss the matter further, and Texas Department of Transportation staffers will get involved in the drainage planning process after the planning proceeds further along.
On a related matter, trustee Mitchell Huff said progress is being made in relocating the district's baseball field from property near the current elementary school and where part of the new school will be erected to a site that includes the football and softball fields and will be named the Athletic Complex.
Huff said he is hopeful the new baseball field will be ready in time for school children and youth to play on it next spring.
In other business, the trustees:
• Heard a report given by Ginger Arbuckle, GISD director of instruction, on the 2016-2017 accountability ratings for the district and its campuses, noting the district, and the elementary, junior high and high schools all received "met standard" ratings from the Texas Education Agency, based on most of four indices – student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and post-secondary readiness;
• Passed, on a unanimous vote, a motion offered by Board Secretary Paul Oliver and seconded by trustee Allen Cheatham, approving sealed bids for three tax-delinquent properties – two half-acre tracts and a 10.5-acre tract – that are listed by the Houston County Appraisal District;
• All voted passage of a Cheatham motion – seconded by trustee Josh Goolsby – increasing incentive pay for teachers with exemplary (or perfect) attendance from $100 per semester to $150 a semester;
• Unanimously voted to pass a motion made by Cobb – seconded by Huff – approving slightly revised student and faculty handbooks for the 2017-2018 school year;
• All agreed to an Oliver motion – seconded by Board Vice President James Martin – delegating contractual authority to obligate the district under Texas Education Code (TEC) 11.1511(c)(4) to Jackson as superintendent, solely for obligating the district under TEC Chapter 41, Subchapters A and D, and related rules;
• Heard reports from new elementary school Principal Cassie Satterwhite and grounds supervisor Jed Mobley; and
•Welcomed new teacher Krystal Burleson and teacher-coach Tyler Terry.
Jackson noted that total attendance on opening day of the 2017-2018 GISD school year Monday was 512 students – 246 elementary pupils, 120 junior high school students and 146 high school youths.