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Malakoff ISD celebrates a stellar year

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Renews special education agreement, considers strategic plan

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MALAKOFF–Along with many athletic and UIL achievements, Malakoff ISD celebrated the success of the Tiger Troupe’s journey to state competition where they placed second with their play “The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tip.” This is the third year in a row that the group has advanced to state.
Director Jessica Bentley told the board how proud she was, not only of the kids’ performances but the character they show when they are out in the public, “You here in Malakoff have kids that exhibit that (character) not only onstage, but everywhere they go. We have true winners and I am blessed and proud to be the director.”
Of the 1,100 schools that entered the contest in the 3A division, Malakoff placed second, winning silver. Bentley told the group that the students represent the whole student body, not only being theater kids, but athletes, band members and FFA members. Bentley thanked the board, along with the community and the parents for supporting the theater group.
Trustees also lauded Tool Elementary School Principal Christal Calhoun for her designation as NAESP National Distinguished Principal. Calhoun will travel to Austin to receive her award and on to Washington D.C. to represent Texas. Board President Rick Vieregge told Calhoun, “We are so proud of you and all you have accomplished.”
The Board of Trustees also approved the interlocal agreement with Murchison ISD and Trinidad ISD for special education services. This is the second year for the agreement, since Malakoff ISD created its own Special Education Department. For the shared services, Trinidad ISD pays Malakoff ISD $65,000 and Murchison ISD pays $77,000. The amounts are paid in monthly installments with the first payment due no later than July 30, 2019 and the last payment no later than June 1, 2020.
Malakoff ISD Special Education Director Laurie Holcombe and Assistant Director Donna Morgan presented the Special Education Strategic Plan for the next school year.
Holcombe told the board that she and Morgan completed 109 evaluations this past school year. Holcombe said she wants to move the focus from “me” to “we” as a district. She has streamlined processes so that all campuses are generating paperwork in the same format.
Holcombe proposed a reorganization of personnel with herself as the special population director. She said the department currently has 210 students, 166 of which are Malakoff ISD students, the rest from Trinidad and Murchison ISDs. “We did a significant amount of evaluations and 30 re-evaluations,” she said. Holcombe said she personally carried a caseload of 50 students along with her other duties.
Morgan said her caseload was 130 along with training, attending every ARD meeting. Morgan said the focus right now is on transition, positioning the students for what comes after graduation and compliance, preparing for a state audit on paperwork which could come at any time. “We have to get them on track to graduate and be productive citizens. That’s our goal,” she said.
Holcombe has also proposed adding one position to her department, a behavior specialist which she said would be able to “drop and go” when a student was in need. The reorganization plan is needed to ensure manageable caseloads, good staff retention and compliance with all requirements, she added. Holcombe also thanked the board for their continued support, saying, “We have a good district and we have a good program.”
Since this was a preliminary proposal, it will likely be discussed and possibly voted on at a later meeting.

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