By Brian Besch
LIVINGSTON -- The Livingston ISD school board decided on a venue for graduation and amended its school calendar in its monthly meeting for January.
By a vote of 4-3, the board approved holding 2018 high school graduation on campus in the Competition Gymnasium. An option to hold the event in Lufkin was first rejected by the same vote. Graduates will park at Livingston Junior High and take buses to the LHS campus to help alleviate parking congestion and the sound system will be upgraded for the ceremony.
High school principal Dr. Paul Drake held multiple meetings with parents through the year to discuss graduation ceremonies and the district placed a survey on its website to seek feedback on the graduation. Drake formed a committee of parents to bring a recommendation of the graduation venue. Two options were made available.
The first option had each student receiving eight tickets that allow for the ticket holder to enter an hour earlier than those without tickets. It ensures that closest family members will be in the gym for graduation. This option would be supported by satellite parking and busing students and staff to the high school campus.
The second option was to hold graduation in Lufkin at a price that would have likely exceeded $12,000. It would increase parking and the number of people who can attend. However, it would take students to graduate in another community and away from local businesses. Students would also have to bus to the Lufkin location.
“I appreciate the effort of the committee,” Livingston Superintendent Dr. Brent Hawkins said. “It is obviously a very close split as to what they wanted to do. I think at the end of the day, from the folks that I heard from and talking to Dr. Drake, there was a sense of community pride and the kids went to school here and want to graduate here. Those parents on the committee echoed that. I totally respect that and get that.”
Hawkins said churches in the area and the Polk County Commerce Center were both smaller venues then the gym, which holds just over 2,000 people. The football stadium also presented problems.
“The football stadium will obviously hold more, but there were so many complaints about parking,” Hawkins said. “That is the time of year you have afternoon thundershowers and you run the risk of having to move from one location to another there. The committee, things I heard back from them, was just the heat and that it was equally as hard to hear in aluminum bleachers.”
The board approved the 2017-2018 school calendar amendments to allow for two days missed during the winter storm on Jan. 16-17. Students will make up missed days on Monday, Feb. 5, and Monday, March 5. The days were originally scheduled as professional development or teacher workdays, but will now be regular school days.
Teachers are contracted for 187 days and will also have to make up the missed days. Saturday, March 3 will be a professional development day and the second make-up day will be offered online.
Citing a need to review its business plan, the district approved a previous notice given to GCA Services to terminate its agreement. The district is looking at all options to ensure that the operations department is best serving the students of the district in the most efficient manner possible.
Feeling the current plan does not match its needs, this will trigger district administration to arrange the presentation of proposal and a new model for delivery of services in the operations department. The board will consider GCA and other vendors that best serves the district goals.
District curriculum and instruction updates were presented by representatives of each campus. Comparisons of reading levels at the beginning of the year to the beginning of the second semester were reviewed by each campus principal. Interventions were outlined for students needed extra help. Tutoring is offered before, during and after school and outside tutors are provided for additional help.
January’s meeting opened with honoring Elaine Wood with the Apple Corps award. The Livingston High School Career and Technical Education programs were spotlighted in a video outlining the certifications offered in the vocational areas. Members of Livingston FFA presented metal art to the board members in honor of School Board Recognition Month to show their appreciation for the agriculture barn improvements made to house the animals. Jarett Smith, Brian Riddle and Dane Young created the plaques in their Ag Mechanics class.