Copperas Cove ISD recognizes teachers and employees of the year
By BRITTANY FHOLER
The Copperas Cove Independent School District announced its employees of the year during the recognition portion of Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting.
Auxiliary staff as well as paraprofessionals, rookie teachers, elementary teachers and secondary teachers from each campus were recognized prior to the awarding of a crystal apple to the recipients.
Each CCISD Employee/Teacher of the Year received a crystal apple and a cash award for $250. The winners for Elementary Teacher of the Year and Secondary Teacher of the Year will advance to the Region 12 Teacher of the Year competition in June, and regional winners will be announced in August.
Auxiliary Employee of the Year went to Mary Sanchez, who works in the Warehouse. Sanchez serves as the Records, Instructional Materials and Textbook Specialist.
The Paraprofessional of the Year for 2020-2021 is Crystal Curras, who has been with the district for four years and works as an ESL instructional paraprofessional at Clements/Parsons Elementary.
The Rookie Teacher of the Year for 2020-2021 is Olivia Polsgrove, a first-year 1st-grade teacher at Fairview/Jewell Elementary.
Elementary Teacher of the Year is Lessly Titas, from Clements/Parsons Elementary. Titas is a bilingual kindergarten teacher and has been teaching for six years.
The Secondary Teacher of the Year for 2020-2021 is Sandra Perry, who is a registered nurse and has been teaching for 22 years. Perry is also the head of the Career/Technology Education Department and serves as the mentor coordinator for experienced teachers who are mentoring teachers new to the education field and school district.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the board voted to adopt the recommendation of the Independent Hearing Examiner in the matter of Copperas Cove ISD versus Alex Gonzalez, to terminate the Gonzalez’ probationary contract, effective immediately. The board had held a special meeting on Monday afternoon in closed session to discuss the matter with the district’s attorney.
The Independent Hearing Examiner is an individual assigned by the Commissioner of Education, under the Texas Education Agency, upon the request of educators who have received a notice from their school board that their contract has been proposed for termination, non-renewal or suspended without pay.
Gonzales has been a teacher for 26 years and was in his first year of teaching for CCISD at Copperas Cove High School.
The board also approved the consent agenda which included approval of 14 new employees/staff members for 2021-2022 School Year and three faculty/staff members for 2020-2021 School Year and several purchases exceeding $25,000. The purchases include the purchase of 410 student laptop devices using budgeted funds in the amount of $135,447.60. Other purchases include the Learning A-Z License to support sustainability of DoDEA II Grant for $37,368.86. This will provide teachers with print and digital decodable readers and phonic resources, which align with the Reading Academy initiative. Another purchase was for the IXL Learning Site License for Grades K-5 for $35,455 and Grades 6-8 for $27,648. The license includes site licenses in grades K-5 (up to 3,425 students) and grades 6-8 (up to 1,900 students) in Mathematics.
Another purchase was for the Fixed Asset Scan and Tag Update for $29,500. The district has been working with RCI to scan, tag and update its fixed assets for several years through the Fixed Asset Management Program. The cost includes the scanning and tagging of all fixed assets new to the district, updating the software with accurate information on current fixed assets, and adding any new fixed assets to the software.
The board of trustees’ consent agenda also included accepting donations from Altrusa International of Copperas Cove for a library book order at House Creek Elementary Library in the amount of $1,887.78 and donations from the Miss Five Hills Scholarship Pageant Program for CCISD Sensory Classroom Equipment, for $1,975.14; for the Clements/Parsons Elementary Weekend Meals program, for $1,220.14; and for the Hettie Halstead Elementary Weekend Meals program, for $1,807.29.
The board also approved the renewal of annual agreements with Central Texas College for the Dual Credit Agreement, the CTE Agreement for Welding and the Contract for Use of CTC Premises; board approved the course guide and course offerings for Copperas Cove High School for the 2021-2022 School Year.
The board also approved selecting a Competitive Sealed Proposal (CSP) as the procurement method for the asbestos abatement projects at both Martin Walker Elementary and at Hettie Halstead Elementary. The board selected a proposal by Building Abatement Demolition for the asbestos abatement project at Mae Stevens Early Learning Academy, for a total package cost of $110,700. The board also approved selecting a CSP as the procurement method for the Martin Walker Drainage Improvement Project, which has an expected cost of $73,000.
“This really is an outgrowth of a bigger drainage issue that we’re working on with LAN Consultants and Engineers out of Austin, and the bigger project is really trying to get rid of all of those ditches and drainage ditches at the high school, so we can create a more useable surface over there, but we do have an issue at Martin Walker that’s a smaller project the engineers are able to get that done relatively quickly, and that will take care of some water that runs through the back side of that campus that exits that campus and actually enters a neighborhood and enters into a creek down there,” said CCISD Superintendent Joseph Burns.
The board also approved the Ideal Impact Services Agreement for a district-wide energy conservation project as well as an Ideal Impact Payment Plan Agreement for the same project.
CCISD has been working with Ideal Impact, Inc. to assist the district in energy management, especially related to the district’s HVAC units. Bethany Detrich and Wes McDaniel from Ideal Impact provided an overview of the service provided and the cost savings for the district during the board’s workshop meeting on Monday.
The district will pay Ideal Impact a total project fee of $1,411,314, to be paid in quarterly payments of $44,103.56 for a maximum of 32 quarters until the cost of the project is recovered.
Ideal Impact projected that there will be $310,451 in annual energy savings and recommended that the district set a savings goal of 32 percent per year or $354,802. In a 15-year period, the district is projected to save approximately $7.5 million in energy savings.
Resigning district teacher
periods in open forum
Copperas Cove resident Jim Maxwell spoke during the Open Forum portion of the Copperas Cove Independent School District Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday evening.
Maxwell said he has been a teacher for 26 years and had been with CCISD for two years. He said he wanted to talk about transparency with the district and about the district’s probationary period policy.
He said that CCISD is the only district he’s seen where the probationary period is for three years- most other districts follow the standard one-year period. He expressed concern over this probationary period being used in a negative way.
“It can be used in a way of running good teachers out of town,” Maxwell said.
He added that teachers and employees under a probationary contract can be let go, or not have their contract renewed, for any reason.
“A lot of good teachers get run out of town using that little, I don’t want to call it a loophole, but that waiver y’all got from the state or whatever, so I would encourage y’all to look into that,” Maxwell said. “I’ve got half a year before I can retire and get teacher retirement, and I’m not getting to do it here.”
Maxwell said he was not going to talk about his position or contract during his time speaking.
He said that he has tried getting people to talk, but they refuse to come forward. He added that he was told not to talk to district personnel.
“People need to know, but people in the district, especially young teachers in the first two, three years, they don’t want to talk about anything because they want the principal to re-sign them, give them a new contract,” Maxwell said. “It’s not fair to the kids. Now, if we were talking about running a referee out of town because he messed up a football game, y’all would be up in arms, the paper would be crazy, T.V. stations, everybody would be on it because that’s wrong. Well, lack of transparency in the school district is really wrong, and I’ve got some dirt: 26 years. I’ve got this much dirt in this town, and I’m not trying to get anybody in trouble. I’m trying to root out the corruption, so watch my Facebook- Jim Maxwell. Blue shirt, standing at a microphone. I’m not a preacher, but I will preach to you.”
According to the Texas Education Code, public school districts shall employ teachers, principals, librarians, nurses or school counselors under either a probationary contract, a continuing contract or a term contract. The code also says that “a person who is employed as a teacher by a school district for the first time, or who has not been employed by the district for two consecutive school years subsequent to August 28, 1967, shall be employed under a probationary contract. A person who previously was employed as a teacher by a district and, after at least a two-year lapse in district employment returns to district employment, may be employed under a probationary contract.”
A probationary contract may not be for a term exceeding one school year, but it may be renewed for two additional one-year periods, for a maximum permissible probationary contract period of three school years, with the exception that the probationary period may not exceed one year for a person who has been employed as a teacher in public education for at least five of the eight years preceding employment by the district.
If a school district’s board of trustees determines that it is doubtful whether the teacher under a probationary contract should be given a continuing contract or term contract, then the board may make the probationary contract for a term ending with the fourth consecutive school year of the teacher’s employment with the district, at which time the district shall either terminate the employment or offer a continuing or term contract.