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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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April 17, 2013     Hays Free Press
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April 17, 2013
 

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Hays Free Press April 17, 2013 PROM Students celebrate - Manchaca style. - Page 1C prom Page 3B + A rash of rodents at Kyle Elementary raises concerns BY KIM HILSENBECK news@haysfreepress.com Concerned parents, teach- ers and staffat Kyie Elementa- ry School in Hays CISD want the district to step up efforts to remove mice and roof ratsfrom the school, saying the problem has gotten out of hand in recent months. Evidence of rodent fe- ces, chewed electrical wiring and gnawed ceiling tiles prompted concerned parents and employ- ees to talk to the Hays Free Press about the situation. No employ- ees would speak on the record, saying they were told in staff meet- ings the situation was under control and not to discuss it. Parents were hesitant to go on record as well; one mother said she loves the school and the role it plays in the com- munity and she is not looking to stir up trouble - her main concern is to ensure the dis- trict is effectively dealing with the problem. On Thursday evening, Principal Ann Conlee sent an email to parents explaining the situation and asking for their understanding as the ad- ministration works to remove the pests that have taken up residence. Her email explained the steps the district is taking to mitigate the problem, includ- ing exclusion (blocking entry points), humanely extermi- nating the rodents with traps, and increased custodial and sanitation practices. District officials say no rat poison has been used to kill the unwanted guests, in part because of the presence of children but also because there is no way to predict where the rodents will die - which means they could die in the walls, creating an even worse situation. Hays CISD spokesperson Tim Savoy said the situation flared up in December during a cold and dry winter. He said the rodents are mostly in the older part of the school, some of which dates back to 1939. "There have been four sightings of rodents since De- cember," Savoy said. "Much of the other evidence, including chewed ceiling tiles and elec- trical wires on the clocks is concentrated in the old Kim- bro building." Savoy said the traps have caught about 24 rats or mice since November. He added there have been some is- sues in the teachers "There have been lounge and in a class- four sightings room cabi- net as well. of rodents since One par- ent said December, her fourth- grader has Much of the seen mice tails. Sever- other evidence, al teachers said they including chewed found rat droppings ceiling tiles and electrical wires on the clocks is concentrated in the old Kimbro building." -Tim Savoy, Hays CISD spokesperson and forced among s o, m e handouts in a class- room cabi- net. Several parentsand staff won- der if the new roof put on the school last summer stirred up the pesky residents them down into the walls of the buildings. An additional concern is that the courtyard animals - beloved by the children and staff- that grace the campus could be attracting mice and rats. One deceased rooster was found in the ceiling near the library. The theory is that a rat killed it and drug it up there where it began to smell bad. Monica Malone, general manager of J&J Pest Control in Austin, said rodents can get in older building much easier than in new ones. "Roof rats can fit into the space the size of a quarter," Malone said. "They enter through various kinds of vents - gables, soffits, ridge - plus weep holes and other Spots where age has broken down the barrier between the out- side and the vent shaft." She also said the prolonged drought in Central Texas makes a situation like the one at Kyle Elementary worse. Hays CISD Director of Main- tenance R.C. Herrin agrees. "Rodents really need three things - a place to live, water and food," he said. "We are working to eliminate as many of those conditions as pos- sible." However, Malone said if it was her job to deal with the situation, she would take her chances with using poison because rat urine and feces is well known for carrying dis- eases. She suggested using a black light to see the bodily fluids left from the rodents to A rodent is seen here taking up residence at Kyle Elementary School. COURTESY PHOTO get a handle on their location ing that schools are inspected integrated pest management and patterns, twice ayear, team continues to monitor To deal with the rodents, Some quick research on the campus buildings daily. Herrin's integrated pest roof rats shows that it is not "No rats have turned up in management team has been surprising to see an increase our traps in the last two days, sealing off as many open- in the number ofrodents, par- which means we're making ings as they can find at the ticularly roof rats, at this time great progress," she wrote. school, creating more exclu- of year. She added, "It probably sions to limit the number of AccordingtotheTexasParks goes without saying, but it's rodents entering. They also andW'fldlife Department, roof always a good idea to remind use traps to humanely exter- rats breed throughout the your children never to touch minate the rodents. He said year but more so in February anywild animal, including ro- the team monitors the situ- and March and again in May dents, they may come across. ation daily, and June. A rat's gestation pe- Also, if they do see a rodent - Hays CountyHealth Inspec- riod is about three weeks; the tell an adult." tor Eric VanGaasbeek said in female can have up to seven Conlee said in her letter his experience with schools, baby rats per litter. Females to parents that the school is the older ones tend to have begin reproduction at three "probably going to always more of these types of prob- months old. have some rodents who take lems than newer ones. One parent said she feels up residence with us." VanGaasbeek has not re- the rapid reproduction is And while she acknowl- ceived any complaints against more than the district can edged the problem has been the school for the rodent is- handle; she said the rodents higher-than-normal recently, sue. He may consider moving breed faster than they can be she concluded, "We don't the school up in the rotation exterminated, consider it anything to cause for it spring inspection, not- Coulee told parents that the alarm." PHOTO BYJULIATUcKER Student wins Chapa 5K brealdng badition A student at Chapa Middle School student David Gallo (center) managed to accomplish a feat no student at the school had done before. The seventh-grader outran two of the school's fastest teachers in the recent Chapa 5K run with a time of 23:43. Teachers, marathon runner Josh Martinez (23:57), left, and multiple 5K age-group winner Jason Younts (24-51), were just as shocked - yet proud of David's triumph. COURTESY PHOTO Inspiring ideas at Fuentes After reading about "The Jacob Project" in the Hays Free Press, mem- bers of the Fuentes Elementary Student Council decided to create a service project of their own. Their idea was Easter baskets for children at the Hays Caldwell Women's Center in San Marcos. The inspira- tion for the group's project came from fellow Fuentes student Sa- mantha Hamill, 9, who along with her brother Waylon, started "The Jacob Project" in memory of their baby brother who was lost at birth. The student council collected stuffed animals and Easter baskets - enough for 20 children - under the direction of grandparent volunteer Sellie Moore and student council sponsor Michelle Velasquez. In this photo, student council members (I-r) Valerie De La Rosa, fifth-grade treasurer, Grace Hammond, fifth-grade secretary and Maddie Ham- mond, fourth-grade class representative, show off their hard work. Hays ClSD search soldiers on The Hays CISD Board of Trustees is on schedule to name a new superintendent of schools in May, according to board president Willie Tenorio who spoke at a special meeting of the board April 9. The job posting closed April 5, with 111 applications submitted for the opening. More than half are candidates from Texas. The board hired Proact Search to facilitate the executive search for a new superintendent following the January departure of Jeremy Lyon. On April 15, board members began the process of narrowing the candidate pool and selecting the people they want to interview. Tenofio said the public input survey, which received more than 800 responses, played a role in the search process. The board plans to hbld the first round of interview~ by mid-next week and then Call the top choices back for a second round of interviews the following week. Trustees hope to announce a lone-finalist or finalists for the position on May 1. In Texas, the law requires a 21-day waiting period before the Board can offer a contract to the person they select to be superintendent. Hays CISD spokesperson Tim Savoy said that could happen as soon as May 22. National Library Week April 14-20 Hays CISD joins other libraries in schools, campuses and communities nationwide in celebrating National Library Week, a time to highlight the value of libraries, librarians and library workers. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American LibraryAssociation (ALA) and libraries across the country eachApril. It's not too early to sign up for summer camps Art Camp - Students in kindergarten through fifth grade can explore the world of art through watercolors, clay, mosaic, paper mache, shrinky dlnks and more. Sign up by May 15. Classes take place 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. June 17-21 at Negley Elementary in Plum Creek. Students must bring a sack lunch. Contact Amy Cigainero, cigaineroa@hayscisd.net, to register. Fitness Camp - Hays CISD is again sponsoring fitness camps for kindergarten through eight graders. The camps, led by district staff, will focus on fitness and conditioning not skill or ability and students will enjoy a variety of activities. Students should dress comfortably, Each camper receives a t-shirt, water and daily snacks. The registration fee is $75 per camp and each is limited to 100 students. Camps run 8 a.m.-noon Monday- Thursday June 17-27 at Chapa Middle School and July 8-18 at Dahlstrom Middle School. Visit www.hayscisd.revtrak.net and select the Community Ed button for more information and to register. French Camp - Campers ages seven to 13 can sign up ~or French Camp where they'll learn French conversation, culture, games, stories, music and more. To o register, contact retired Hays teacher Marjie Kelley at marjiekC,~ahoo.com. Buda 4-H offers vaccination clinic for pets The Buda 4-H Club will host a rabies/vaccination clinic for both dogs and cats flmn 1-3 p.m. this Saturday at the Buda VoAg complex on FM 2770. All proceeds will benefit the Buda 4-H Club and graduating senoirs. Bring your pets out and get them ready for spring and summer.