As Millsap ISD prepares to move elementary students and staff into its new school, the school board on Monday addressed the move and several options for older school buildings next school year.
The actual move is slated for May 10, with a health fair and parent “come see your kid’s classroom” evening scheduled for May 6, beginning at 6 p.m.
This week, Superintendent Jerry Lee Hunkapiller said he was working with crews moving in the new furniture. As of Tuesday afternoon, eight truckloads of furniture arrived and A. Bargas and Associates employees, Hunkapiller and volunteers were piecing the desks and other furniture together.
While it’s clear they have set plans for the new school, board members heard options for the current (soon to be old) elementary. At Monday’s meeting, Hunkapiller presented some options with “pros and cons,” with one being moving the junior high into the elementary. While he said there were advantages, the end result would cost the district over $200,000 to upgrade the elementary for middle school use.
He said the science lab in the junior high is nice, but they would have to add a new lab to the elementary. In addition, he said the special education area is a “huge issue. The life-skills in the annex (middle school) is perfect.”
“I’m not sure how the community would react if we decide now to switch the middle school to the elementary,” added.
Hunkapiller said they will move the central administration offices to the old elementary library and hallway off the library.
He presented two other options that could become reality — both housed in the old elementary.
“We needs to find ways to use the elementary and find ways to replenish our [maintenance and operations revenue],” the superintendent said.
One option is potentially housing a day-care facility “if the state says the building can house a day care,” said Hunkapiller, “and provided the district could lease it to a certified day-care operator.”
“With our staff alone, there’s a great need,” he said. “If we had a place in the district to drop kids off, it would be a great benefit for our staff and also for our community.”
Another plan is to house a proposed MISD charter campus in one of the old elementary hallways. The district has applied for approximately $134,000 in a state grant to establish a charter school that is part of the district.
The grant is in phase II and, if approved, could result in a small campus starting with about 20 students a day — 10 in the morning and 10 in the afternoon. The purpose would be to recapture students who have left the district prior to graduation and to be proactive in meeting the needs of students who need an alternate instructional environment, Hunkapiller shared with board members.
“It’s a fully grant-funded option for MISD to take care of students and families that wish for an alternate choice than the traditional high school,” he said.
“The state is big on charters,” Hunkapiller told board members. “It’s one alternative source of revenue to keep trying to help our kids. It would add more WADA [weighted average daily attendance] and keep kids we could lose.”
In addition, he cited between $56,000 to $85,000 in lost revenue over the past three schools years related to high school students leaving for home schooling or private school.
An informational handout he gave board members — also available in MISD’s online “Board Book” — states that the charter campus would “provide a different and innovative learning academy that will allow students to re-enter the educational setting in a risk-free environment and to improve students learning to close the academic achievement gap and increase the graduation rate for all students.”
Millsap High School Principal Darla Henry would oversee the campus. Hunkapiller said admission would be by application and the charter campus would consider transfers from other districts if there is room.
This all hinges on the state accepting the grant. Hunkapiller said the district should hear in the next couple of weeks. If accepted, he said the district could one full-time teaching position “at no cost.”
The school board agreed that the middle school should stay where it is, at least for the next school year.
In other business, the MISD board:
n Received a report on two donations from the Federal Building in Fort Worth. According to Brandon Thomas, technology coordinator, this came about through the efforts of Donna Edwards, a MISD parent who works in the building.
The first contribution of Dell computers and flat-screen monitors helped the district complete a “much-needed upgrade to the middle school computer lab,” Thomas stated in a note to board members. A second donation of 75 flat-screen monitors “has allowed us a very sizable savings in our efforts to will help the district with its goal of having one computer to every five students in elementary school.
“It would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, to complete these two projects within the allotted time frame and budget without this much appreciated donation,” wrote Thomas.
Hunkapiller said he estimated the value of the lightly used, “free” equipment around $75,000.
n Heard that the district’s most recent enrollment was 760 and the district’s refined average daily attendance was 709.91. Hunkapiller told board members the district wants to have a refined ADA of 730 or more.
n Discussed the district’s scorecard, which is a way to set district goals and measure performance, explained MISD Federal Programs Coordinator Lois Johnson. This is a way to “set goals and action steps and tell you what you want and how you want to get there,” she said.
“We want to create a culture of a partnership between parents and the school — to work together so children will grow up mature and healthy,” suggested Vice President Jerry Walker. He added that one of his goals would be “customer satisfaction.”
Other suggestions were to have focus groups with graduated seniors and assess how the district is developing core academics, character and work ethic in students.