Sunday, July 23, 2006

KISD okays top assistant
By Barbara Gartman

Monitor Staff Writer
KEMP–Board members, principals and teachers at the Tuesday regular board meeting met their new assistant superintendent.
Dr. Peter Running, who was just hired in May as the new Kemp Independent School District superintendent, introduced his assistant, Sam Swierc.
Swierc was principal at Seguin High School until he was hired by KISD (see related story on page 4A).
“He is bringing a great deal of administrative experience with him,” Running said.
“I have met all the administration and I am looking forward to meeting teachers and other staff,” Swierc said.
“I feel like I am the luckiest man on earth,” he added.
High gasoline prices are causing school districts and businesses to increase their mileage allowances for their employees.
However, it has become a guessing game for those trying to set rates.
“I recommend we allow our rate to fluctuate with the state rate,” Running said, explaining if a flat rate was set and the price per gallon of gasoline dropped, the district could end up over-paying.
“I recommend we reimburse at whatever the state rate is, and not lock ourselves into a set amount,” he said.
Trustees agreed and approved paying the fluctuating state rate.
The state rate is currently 44.5 cents a mile and could go as high as 48 cents a mile soon, trustees were told.
In other business, trustees:
• approved the student code of conduct, which will be in the student handbook.
Running said he considered “zero tolerance” a dangerous concept.
He said he would like to take a student’s background into account.
• did not adopt the student handbook as a whole.
“TASB (Texas Association of School Boards) is not recommending the board adopt the handbook, but rather leave it to administrative policy,” Running said.
• heard a presentation on state-mandated teacher salary increases from Running.
The subject will be discussed further at a budget workshop, set for 6 p.m. Friday, July 28.
Running said the approximate $3,000 raise designated by the state includes $500 formerly used for insurance, plus $500 matched by the district.
The actual paycheck increase teachers will see is $2,000.
Step increases already scheduled will also be paid.
• heard the superintendent’s report.
Trustees were informed that five candidates are seeking the vacant TASB board of directors seat, including KISD board president Keith Foisey.
“No one candidate can expect the 50 plus one number of votes (needed for an automatic win),” Running said.
The five candidates will be interviewed by the TASB committee, and they will make the decision, he explained.
• heard the team of eights training will be scheduled on a Saturday in September or October.
• heard Running and seven administrators will be out of town attending a leadership training session Tuesday through Thursday, Sept. 19-21.
• changed the September board meeting to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, to accommodate the leadership session.
• will have their pictures taken prior to the Tuesday, Aug. 15, board meeting.
• heard the list of new hires as presented by Swierc.

GBCEDC amends SO Sportsplex pact
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Gun Barrel City Economic Development Corporation board members slightly revised the EDC’s performance agreement with S.O. Sportsplex and approved a new fiscal year (FY) 2007 budget Tuesday.
Board member Todd Hogan asked for the revision, which would give the EDC a continuing option to repurchase a portion of the five-acre tract it bought from the city to serve as the Sportsplex site.
Sportsplex developers Mark Spahlinger and Steven Orsak will be developing three acres of the site in Phase 1 of their project, an indoor soccer complex.
Hogan said the EDC should be able to buy back the undeveloped two acres – at its original cost – if S.O. Sportsplex wants to sell that portion of the tract prior to the end of its 10-year performance agreement.
The option would allow the EDC to control the eventual development of that two-acre portion, if the Sportsplex project does not expand to develop the entire tract, Hogan said.
Once the terms of the performance agreement have been met, Spahlinger and Orsak will be able to sell the undeveloped property, which is likely to have increased in value by that time, Hogan said.
“If it’s 10 years and one day, they can sell,” he said. “I just want to protect the taxpayers.”
“Once he’s met his performance agreement obligations, he can do what he damn well pleases (with the property),” board member Lloyd McCarly agreed.
Later, Spahlinger told the directors he’s been having difficulty getting his site plan before the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission, saying building inspector John Moseley had been requesting eight complete sets of blueprints, not just a site plan.
Other projects have not had to provide such detailed documents so early in the building process, Spahlinger said.
“We’re having to pay $7,500 for an architect to draw the inside of a building and put a stamp on it,” he said.
Board member Patsy Black, who also sits on the city council, said she had previously asked Moseley to take her through the building approval process, step by step.
Hogan said the situation illustrated a need for a written step-by-step process that could be given to any developer who asked for that information.
“We’ll see if we can do something about this tomorrow,” Black told Spahlinger, and the board unanimously agreed to have Black to pursue the issue with the city, and lead the effort to come up with a developer’s outline.
Board members unanimously approved an FY 2007 budget, which estimated just under $1.6 million in revenues and approximately $800,000 in expenditures.
The budget included a 6 percent salary/benefits increase for administrative assistant Rita Evans, and also reflected a $50,000 grant provided earlier in the meeting to Heritage Cove developer Ken Landers.
During the discussion, Hogan said he would like to see some funds set aside for marketing purposes.
The fund could be used for events to draw visitors to Gun Barrel City, such as a commercial fireworks show, Hogan suggested.
Board members agreed to put in $5,000 for marketing and another $2,000 for office equipment.
In other business, the directors:
• met with developer Frank Aaron, accompanied by former EDC board member Curtis Webster, who complained their project was being delayed because the storm runoff from the Lowe’s Home Improvements Center parking lot was being diverted into their property.
Runoff water was supposed to be diverted into storm drains along State Highway 198, but the actual site work doesn’t match the plans Lowe’s presented to the city, Aaron charged.
“They’re supposed to have a settlement basin there, but they don’t,” Aaron said. Water running off the parking lot is coming across four of eight lots in the development, he added.
Lowe’s, based in North Carolina, has not responded to their requests for action, Webster said.
“Sounds to me like you need to get somebody who can get Lowe’s’ attention,” McCarly said.