There was plenty of business to attend to at the last session of the Van Alstyne ISD Board of Trustees before the end of the school year. Teachers of the year were announced, board officers took the Oath of Office, budgets and employee pay scales were discussed and there was even a stirring performance from the Van Alstyne High School french horn quartet.
VAHS Band Director Tim Fulton presented the quartet of Tanner Callies, Brianna Chapman, Alex Roddy and Hailey O’Hanlon who performed for the trustees and assembled staff and audience members.
Dr. David Brown then introduced Amina Chaghani as the VAHS Teacher of the Year, citing the first-year teacher’s strong work in the Spanish department. Middle School principal Ryan Coleman introduced Keri Leinart as the Middle School Teacher of the Year and the District Teacher of the Year (see related story elsewhere in the Leader.) Lanette Dyer announced Sharon Evans as the Elementary School Teacher of the Year. It was a sweet moment for Evans who, after teaching for 36 years, is retiring.
There were two other deserving souls in the meeting room this night. Morgan Welch and Evan McQuirk were brought forth and "certificated" as certain trustees might say. Welch was presented with a certificate commemorating an amazing streak — she has not missed one day of school from kindergarten through 12th grade. McQuirk was presented with a certificate honoring his bronze medal-winning effort at the UIL State Track & Field Meet in Austin.
Before the rest of the night’s agenda could be tackled VAISD Administrative Assistant Lawana Merriman needed to administer the Oath of Office to returning trustees Debbie Nance and Randall Morgan. Nance and Morgan were unopposed and there was no VAISD election in 2014.
Budget numbers for 2014-15 were discussed. One notable number that popped up was an overall increase of $453,355 in payroll while revenues are also up. Tied into that, then, was a discussion of the 2014-15 pay scale for teachers and para-professionals. VAISD Superintendent Dr. John Spies told trustees that in 2010-13 the starting salary for a teacher was $34,000, in 2013-14 it was $38,000 and for 2014-15 it will be $40,000, a marketable number in the district’s effort to secure top-quality teaching professionals.
"We’re by far the highest starting salary in Grayson County," said Spies.
Pay bumps were also discussed. Those with less than 30 years on the job will get a minimum $1,000 bump in pay (salary increase and step included) while those with 30-plus years will see a $650 minimum salary increase. Spies said that he would like to see more for 30-plus year employees in the future.
Para-professionals will also get an increase in pay. The lowest-paid employees will get a $1.05 per hour total increase in pay, a move that will cost the district $30,000 overall.
The motion to approve the pay scale passed unanimously, 6-0 (Trustee Dennis Smith was not in attendance.)
The board approved a motion to wave user fees so that the City of Van Alstyne can host its July 4th Celebration at Van Alstyne High School. The event was held there last year and was well-received.
Trustees voted 6-0 to adopt K-12 science textbooks and K-8 math textbooks.
A technology purchase of $35,000 was approved as was an instructional materials allotment of $153,402. The latter includes the cost for the adopted textbooks and the purchase of 125 Chromebooks with sleeves.
Trustees voted unanimously to approve a budget amendment applying various donations received to the budget. Those donations totaled $5,850.
Personnel matters were discussed and action taken. Katie Plyler was renewed to teach Spanish, Coleen Jones is returning to the district to teach eighth grade math and Michelle Morse is coming from Lone Oak to teach high school English. Priscilla Shaner, Devin Hill, and Jennifer McClellan were hired as elementary teachers.
In the final vote of the night, trustees voted 6-0 to enter into a five-year contract with GCEC for phone and internet service, both of which, according to Spies, will be a major upgrade over the current systems. The district will lock in rates for five years and will see a savings over its current plan by year three.
BOARD NOTES: Kurt Himmelreich was elected board president, Randall Morgan was elected board vice-president and Debbie Nance was elected secretary…Superintendent Spies stated that enrollment was up by six students, a good trend and said that projections point to the largest group of students ever at the elementary and high schools for next year…Graduation is set for June 6 at 7:30 p.m. at Panther Stadium…