It’s hard to believe another school year has come and gone. It has been a great one for Mason ISD! The accomplishments of our students have been truly amazing. Just to name a few of the highlights of our year—
· State championship in football
· Band advanced to area marching contest
· Regional finalist in girls’ basketball
· Regional quarterfinalist in boys’ basketball
· District champions in UIL academics at the high school and elementary campuses with junior high placing second. Twenty-three students qualified for the regional academic meet and four students advanced to the state competition which takes place in Austin during the last week of school
· Mason Elementary has been recognized as a Title I Distinguished School
· One Act Play advanced from the zone competition to the district competition
· Tenth consecutive state championship in team tennis
· Both boys’ and girls’ golf teams placed second in district and advanced to regionals
· In individual tennis our students walked away three additional state championships, a 2nd place and a 3rd place. Twelve players advanced from district to regional and ten advanced to state
· District and area championships in boys’ track, with 14 male athletes qualifying for regionals and the mile relay team qualifying for the state track meet
· Girls’ track team placed 3rd in district with 11 female athletes qualifying for regionals
· District and area champions in baseball. Still playing.
Many of you have asked about the amount of money received as a result of the football post-season games including the championship game. The net income from all of the playoff games totaled approximately $25,000. Just over $17,000 of that was from the championship game. This has helped tremendously with post-district expenses and will allow Coach Burns to purchase some much needed equipment for the athletic department. Mason ISD has received three grants from the Texas Comptroller’s State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) to replace HVAC units on the elementary and high school campuses. The first two SECO grants received were for classroom units totaling $67,406 and required MISD to contribute 20% of the funds. The third Cool Schools grant was to replace the 18 large units on the high school campus in areas such as the auditorium, gymnasium, etc. The Cool Schools grant was a 100% funded grant meaning MISD was not required to match any funds. This grant was for $105,575. These new units should greatly reduce our energy consumption and utility and maintenance costs.
Other grants received are the Fine Arts Instructional Support Program (FAISP) grant for $10,000 to buy new instruments for the Jr. High and High School band programs. The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) grant provided a mobile distance learning lab for the elementary campus for $39,000. We also received a grant for a new Pole Vault Projector for the Jr. High science lab for $5,000.
I continue to be very concerned about school finance in our state. Periodically I read another article somewhere where some politician or state agency states public education funding was not cut. This is simply not true. Under the school finance bill of the past biennium (2009-2011) HB3646, MISD would have received in combined local and state revenue $6,819,285 for the 2011-12 school year. Under the current school finance bill, SB1, MISD received $6,435,142 for the 2011-12 school year. For the 2012-13 school year MISD would have received $6,819,285 (assuming enrollment stays approximately the same) and we are expecting to receive only $6,598,482 under SB1. Over the two year period, that is a difference of $604,947. In my book, that is a significant decrease.
Due to the late date of the passing of the school finance bill last year and the uncertainty brought about by that, the board and I decided to be proactive and make drastic cuts in the first year to be on the safe side. That decision has served us well as we now have a small amount of leeway and will be able to continue to maintain the facilities and transportation fleet as needed. We will resurface the high school parking lot, repair the bleachers in the elementary/jr. high gym and make some improvements to handicap accessibility at the stadium to name a few of the projects slated for the summer.
The cuts made to personnel last year have presented some significant challenges. I am so grateful to have a staff who has simply “pulled up their boot straps” and made the best of the situation at hand without complaining (too much J). We will continue to try to reassign current staff to meet the needs of our students, but sometimes because of enrollment or existing staff certification areas it is not possible. Any added positions will be carefully considered and deemed absolutely necessary.
Changes are being made in the cafeteria aimed at improving food quality and nutritional value, menu choices for students, cost effectiveness and efficiency. The Student Health Advisory Committee (SHAC) has played an integral role in identifying the need for improvement in the nutritional value of meals served to our students. For many years the cafeteria has averaged approximately $30,000 “in the red.” In prosperous financial times, that may not be a significant amount, but in our current financial situation, that amount could pay for another classroom teacher in an over-crowded grade or two paraprofessionals to assist in classrooms. The board and I have done extensive research and toured many facilities similar in size and enrollment to ours. The cafeterias we visited served three or four entrees daily using four to six employees. The average meals served per labor hour ratio was approxi