At its regular meeting Nov. 12, the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved the rezoning plans surrounding the closures of Hedrick and College Street elementary schools, which the school district has been presenting to the public periodically over the past month.
The closure of these two elementary schools was part of the 2017 bond package — Hedrick is being closed to make room for expanding the adjoined Hedrick Middle School, while College Street will be replaced by a new elementary school being built at the corner of Mill and Purnell. Questions about how students would be rezoned from Hedrick Elementary school date back to the bond package election, but the first public discussion of the nuts and bolts of rezoning didn’t take place until Sept. 24, and the public didn’t get a look at the maps until October.
The rezoning maps will see Hedrick students split between Degan, Vickery and Parkway elementary schools, as well as send several students currently zoned for College Street and Central elementary schools to the new school on Mill Street and shift a wedge of students currently zoned for Lewisville Elementary School up to Central. You can find a more detailed look at the maps here.
Faculty and staff from the schools that will take in Hedrick Elementary students were on-hand to cheer the decision and symbolically welcome the new students. The trustees moved the action item to earlier in the agenda on their behalf.
At the beginning of the meeting, the board heard public commentary from five community members, four of whom had come do discourage them from naming the new elementary school Mill Street Elementary, as had been proposed and discussed at length at the last meeting, which one speaker referred to as “a joke.” The speakers pointed out that far too many nearby businesses are already called “Mill Street,” and suggested other options, such as Lone Star Elementary and Kealy Elementary after former Lewisville mayor L.M. Kealy.
At its Nov. 5 work session, the board got its first look at several facilities being designed in accordance with the 2017 Bond package, including the new elementary school on Mill Street and Hedrick Middle School. We’ve got some of the key images from those designs in the article, but you can see the full presentation here.
Also discussed at the Sept. 24 meeting were further-out considerations about elementary schools in rapidly growing areas in central and southern Flower Mound. Schools administrator Joseph Coburn, who oversaw the process of informing parents about the Hedrick and Old Town area changes, talked the board through proposed boundary changes in those areas and said the process of informing parents would be much the same.
The board also approved contracts to refresh its data storage infrastructure and renovations to schools’ security vestibules at a combined cost of almost $12 million, with almost $10 million of that being the vestibules, and assigned Stantec to repair damage from a hailstorm in June. District CFO Mike Ball explained that insurance had not yet sorted out the final damage assessment, but having a firm already assigned meant the repairs will come faster once the money is sorted out. The district has worked with Stantec on several projects in recent months.
The board passed its consent agenda unanimously and without discussion. The consent agenda included a 2015 property values audit to be conducted by the Ray & Wood law firm while, within the same item, providing written intent to terminate the district’s contact with the firm.
This item was the subject of heated discussion at the Nov. 5 work session, when board members were first made aware of the firm’s desire to perform the audit, putting the district in an uncomfortable position. Ray & Wood has been under contract with the school district to provide audits every few years since 2001. The contract is structured such that Ray & Wood only get paid when they are able to somehow find savings for the school district, so they only perform the audit when they think they can find those savings. As such, the firm hadn’t been in contact with the district for several years, and nobody still on the board seemed to be aware the contract existed.
According to background material, the district is kind of backed into a corner on this decision. An audit could lead to additional state funding or reductions in recapture payments, but it would have to be performed by Ray & Wood and it would have to be performed right now. The statute of limitations to perform an audit on the 2015 tax year expires next July, and the district isn’t able to terminate their agreement with Ray & Wood until then. If they went with a different firm to perform the same audit, Ray & Wood could sue.
With the consent agenda item, the district bit the bullet and authorized Ray & Wood to perform that audit, but provide written notice to end the relationship.
At the beginning of the meeting, district CFO Mike Ball delivered the Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas report, which is annually required. The district received an “A” rating, as it has for several years running. For context, out of 1,247 school districts overseen by the Texas Education Agency, only 176 of them are rated less than an “A,” according to TEA data. You can see the full financial presentation here.
The Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees meets once monthly at 6 p.m. at the LISD Administrative Center in Lewisville, usually with several informational sessions in between. These meetings are open to the public.