By CHERIL VERNON
The Palestine Independent School District is in the preliminary stages to form a partnership with the Palestine YMCA to build a soccer complex using land donated to the district.
Local attorney Jim Parsons donated close to 9 acres three to four years ago to the school district, PISD Superintendents Jason Marshall said during the meeting.
“Parsons asked for the school district to use it for a recreational area for students,” Marshall said.
The land is located in a long strip in front of Story Elementary School on North Loop 256, going almost to the intersection of the Loop and U.S. 79.
Palestine ISD is planning to draw up papers for an interlocal agreement between the school district and the Palestine YMCA as no agreement has been finalized, Marshall said.
“We are really excited about the idea of a soccer complex. It’s a great feature for us and a great partnership with the school district,” Palestine YMCA CEO David Hendricks said during the meeting, noting it will add to the soccer fields already in place. “We have about 400 kids who play soccer and we are looking forward to raising money and donations to make it happen.”
The school district’s part in the agreement would mainly be the donation of the land, with the YMCA spearheading the fund-raising process.
PISD Board of Trustees also heard a report from Director of Business Services/Chief Financial Officer David Atkeisson about the increase for the second year in health insurance plans for district employees, including a large increase for employees enrolled in the TRS ActiveCare 2 plan.
“I encourage every educator to contact their elected officials about the return of state funds. We lost $1.5 million in state aid this year and we’re going to need more back to be able to address this issue for our employees,” Marshall said.
Marshall said he believes that legislators will be able to provide at least one-third of the state funds back, roughly $50,000.
“If we could get the state funding back that we lost, we would be able to keep a throttle on this healthcare issue and possibly help our employees,” Marshall said.
In other business, the board:
• APPROVED renewals, non-renewals and terminations of contracts for professional personnel
• APPROVED the 2013-2015 Technology Plan. In summary, there was a significant increase in technology at Palestine High School due to grant funding while hardware coming out of grant control and no longer needed at the high school is being dispersed to other campuses to attempt to fill their technology needs.
• APPROVED Internet Safety Guidelines for the district, as required by the Texas Education Agency
• RECOGNIZED A.M. Story Intermediate fourth grade language arts teachers
• RECOGNIZED Junior Rotarians for the month, including Caitlyn Morrow and Walter Sheridan for February and Emily Salas and Tyler Perkins for March
• RECOGNIZED Palestine High School Students of the Month, including Elizabeth Ruiz and Caleb Ellison for February and Gabrielle Dantin and Caleb Lawson for March
• APPROVED nominating KYYK and the Palestine Herald-Press for the Texas Association of School Boards’ Media Honor Roll
• APPROVED Policy Update 96, affecting local policies: DEA (Local) Compensation and Benefits — Leave and Absences; EFAA (Local): Instructional Material — Selection and Adoption; FEB (Local): Attendance — Attendance Accounting
• HEARD construction update
• HEARD financial report and discussed bank depository
• HEARD Superintendent’s Report
• APPROVED consent items which included: minutes of the Feb. 18 regular board meeting; bills paid for February; financial report; monthly investment report; tax collection report; budget amendments; donations; expedited waiver for foreign exchange students; staff development waiver for 2013-14; certification of EMAT System for 2013-14 textbook order.