School board makes up for lost time

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After school board officials agreed to not meet in December due to the holidays, the board room in the Sealy ISD Administration building was home once again to a school board meeting with plenty to catch up on from the two-month break.

It started with a public presentation of the Texas Academic Performance Report where Assistant Superintendent Doug Young presented charts and graphs noting how Sealy ISD compared to other districts in their region as well as the rest of the state in subject proficiencies and demographic diversity.

To kick off the rest of the public meeting, Sealy Elementary Principal Mary Gajewski spoke on behalf of the rest of the Sealy ISD teaching staff in thanking the school board for the thankless job that they do. Each board member received a wooden cutting board and Sealy ISD stemless glasses as a token of their appreciation.

Superintendent Sheryl Moore retained the gift-giving mood and provided a token of the board’s appreciation of the work that Jim Obermeier has done over his 11-year stint as the district’s chief financial officer.

Obermeier’s tenure will come to a close as the calendar switches to February where former junior high Principal Lisa Svoboda, will take over.

Although a little unexpected, Obermeier mentioned he felt as though he didn’t deserve the praise as he was just doing his job, albeit a very important one.

To kick off the rest of the consent agenda, Moore provided an update to the board’s goals in regards to school safety in the wake of the threat at the junior high school the week prior.

Although a completely new facet to the overall board goals, Moore updated the safety part of things by informing the public that they will execute “the best practices” in order to keep students safe.

In aiding her quest to do that is a safety committee comprised of 25 members including staff and faculty as well as parents and regular community members.

The committee has already met twice and will meet again in February to continue deliberation on the best ways to keep students safe.

On top of that, first responders who will be the ones providing support to specific campuses will receive training at those individual campuses in order to be prepared on where to go and how to get there once inside a school building.

The teachers already inside those buildings will receive training of their own under the ALICE umbrella, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.

Another training regimen they receive is the stop the bleed, which guides bystanders on how and where exactly to apply a tourniquet in order to possibly save a life.

In hopes of extending that possibility, the Selman Trust donated $10,000 to provide stop the bleed kits in every school across Sealy ISD.

Moore thanked the committee members in the audience, and school board president Ryan Reichardt extended his appreciation as well, noting, “Nothing else matters if we fail on this.”

Moving into the meat of the agenda, Sealy High School Principal Megan Oliver, along with counselor Laura Osborne and career and technical education director Jeff Koch provided an update on the College, Career and Military Readiness program at the high school.

To gauge the college readiness levels, specific scores need to be reached on standardized testing in both math and English subjects in order to tell whether or not a student is ready to jump right to a four-year college or if a two-year college is a better option first.

As far as the military part goes, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) is a multiple-choice test that gauges students’ interest and commitment to joining a branch of the military and can help determine their qualifications.

Dr. Koch took over when transitioning into the career readiness aspect and included that although the Sealy CTE curriculum provides only two industry-based certified classes for this school year, that number could possibly skyrocket for the next school year.

He mentioned that his students made a list of 1,300 classes that could be offered to allow students to participate in that program in high school and graduate with a certification in their discipline and immediately join the workforce following the culmination of school.

Welding and Pharmacy Tech are the only two industry-based certified classes currently being offered at Sealy High School but Koch will continue to refine the list and eventually propose a more feasible number to extend the program's reach.

After that, it was project manager Michael Zapalac’s turn to take the floor and he had some help presenting information about the new sign that has already been approved to be created.

Billy Norris and Becky Mills explained how they wanted to honor all of the state champions that have passed through Sealy in hopes of inspiring younger generations to strive for the same recognition.

Although there is no expected finish date yet, all of the materials have been donated and nearly $24,000 have already been provided and Norris and Mills were given permission to proceed once finalizing their budget and receiving the rest of the funds needing only to provide evidence of such funds before officially getting underway.

Zapalac went on to seek funds to improve audio and visual components to the high school auditorium, add audio and visual surveillance to the bus barn as well as change a multitude of lights that have gone out at the Sealy High School parking lot.

In addition, he sought approval for construction delivery methods for the new ag barn and culinary facilities, use of R.L. Thompson to audit 2016 bond funds and to demolish the old junior high cosmetology building after he finalizes bids for the work.

The conclusion of the meeting was emphasized with a cake in celebration of Obermeier’s final board meeting; however he had already made his exit before the culmination.

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