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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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September 17, 2014     Hays Free Press
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September 17, 2014
 

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9-11 A day of remembrance in Hays County. - Page 1C Hays Free Press September 17, 2014 A Page 3B BY ANDY SEVILLA andy@haysfreepress.com Hays CISD officials are look- ing into Lehman High School's cheerleading activity fund after a uniform vendor complained that money was owed, accord- ing to district officials. The so far in-house investiga- tion of the Lobo cheerleading activity fund covers many years where several people were involved with its bookkeeping, district spokesman Tim Savoy said Monday. Savoy declined to identify the uniform provider so as not to single-out any one vendor. An anonymous tipster told the Hays Free Press that school officials met with parents of cheerleaders informing them that tens of thousands of dollars were unaccounted for from the activity fund. In an Aug. 14 email from Hays CISD Superintendent Mike McKie to the school board, obtained through an open records request, McKie said, in part, "Due to the amount of funds in question, it is essential that this remain confidential." Savoy said the amount of funds owed could range from $20,000 to $50,000 and once the investigation is complete the district will determine the total dollar amount in question. A phone call to a mother of a Lehman High varsity cheer- leader Friday ended with the woman saying she did not want to comment on the meeting or the issues. Savoy said the investigation has not turned up any evidence of theft or misappropriation of funds, but the district is looking at all possibilites. He said the investigation includes an audit of the account's financial re- cords over a period of time, and the district could not specu- Hays CISD officials are auditing the Lehman High School Lobo Cheerleaders' "If any criminal activity is discovered, we will certainly promptly report that to local law enforcement." -Tim Savoy, Hays CISD spokesperson late on any potential findings until the monetary probe was complete. Savoy said the investigation, which began in August after a new person took over manag- ing the account, could take several months. Club sponsors and campus bookkeepers manage campus activity funds, according to Savoy. The former sponsor and cheerleading head coach, Stacy Martinez, reslgned from her post this summer, Savoy said. The resignation was not related to the investigation nor the audit, he said. "We won't know for sure what happened with the account until we can audit all of the records and the investigation is completed," Savoy said. "If any criminal activity is discov- ered, we will certainly promptly report that to local law enforce- ment." Savoy said the owed money activity fund after a vendor said it was appears to be related to cheer- leading uniform purchases made through the activity fund under the expectation of reim- bursement by parents. Savoy said in years past, the district purchased the uniforms and parents were expected to pay the program back for the purchase, thereby reimbursing the activity fund. Lehman High School ended that practice this year and parents ordered the uniforms directly from the vendor, he said. The tipster told the Hays Free Press that cheefleading parents were asked this year to pay for uniforms at a cost ranging between $1,400 and $2,200. Or- ders could differ based on what items each girl needed. For example, a second year varsity PHOTO BY MOSES LEOS III owed money for uniforms. cheerleader probably would not order a warm up suit or shoes, as she likely would already have those items. Some parents were asked to pay in cash, the tipster said, though that remains uncon- firmed. "Once the audit and inves- tigation is finished, we will be able to say for sure what hap- pened and make any neces- sary changes in practice and procedure," Savoy said. The tipster also said parents were told proceeds from a can- dy fundraiser held by Lehman cheerleaders also was report- edly missing, but Savoy said the candy fundraiser orders were placed and those who partici- pated should soon receive their merchandise. ers waivers BY ANDY SEVILLA andy@haysfreepress.com Within thirty days of surpass- ing 22 students in any class with one teacher, school boards are to request classroom waivers, per state rules. Three weeks into the school year and with 18 classes across four campuses over the state recommended student-teacher ratios, Hays CISD board mem- bers are preparing to approve requests for waivers, though some voiced interest in hiring more teachers. "By my math it seems pretty reasonable to hire a third grade teacher and a fourth grade teach- er for (Elm Grove Elementary)," trustee member Meredith Keller said at the Sept. 15 meeting. Four of the five fourth grade classes at Elm Grove Elemen- tary are over the 22:1 student to teacher ratio called for by the state, with one classroom hous- ing 25 students. The remaining overcrowded classroom sit with 24 students each. One fourth grade classroom at Elm Grove is at the 22:1 ratio, but officials said a student would be moved into that classroom to help alleviate the one with 25 students. The move would effec- tively require classroom waivers for all fourth grade classes at Elm Grove Elementary. Hays CISD Superintendent Mike McKie said classroom sizes are ever-changing as students enter and leave the district daily. Officialssaid if students are shuffled around from over- crowded rooms to those within targeted numbers, that balancing would only require requesting 13 classroom waivers, as opposed to 18. "Why wouldn't they be bal- anced already?" asked board vice president Holly Smith-Raymond. "I would think that the admin- istration's approach would be to come to us asking for the least amount of waivers possible." Last year, Hays CISD request- ed eight waivers, officials said. VWlth the impending residential growth expected soon in the district, some board members questioned why not hire teachers now, as opposed to later in the school year. Deputy Superintendent Carter Scherff said it's difficult to gauge what grade level children will be in who take up residence in sub- divisions that are building out. "I don't know whether we're going to grow in first grade, sec- ond grade, third grade or what," Scherff said. "So I think the purpose of doing waivers is for us not to spend the money. But I think probably that based on the housing, that we're going to see additional growth at Elm Grove (Elementary) and probably a number of our other schools, too." Raymond pointed out that if an additional fourth grade teacher was hired at Ell Grove Elementary;, the student to teacher ratio could be lowered to between 19 and 20 students per classroom. Dr. Kim Pool, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, said the district established thresholds for when to hire a new teacher, adding that when a grade level reaches that threshold in every class, then a teacher would be added. "I would have to do that before that happened, because I think there are several cases where we could be adding a teacher arbitrarily without hitting that threshold that we already estab- Class Size Waiver Information as of 2:00 PM on Monday, September 15, 2104 Grade # of Classrooms at # of Classrooms Campus Level Grade Level over 22:1 Blanco Vista I 3rd Grade [ 6 3rd grade classrooms 12 @ 23 students I nd Elm Grove 12" Grade I s 2 grade classrooms 1 2 @ 23 students I Elm Grove t 3rd Grade I 5 3rd grade classrooms 14 @ 23 students 1 Elm Grove 4th Grade 5 4th grade classrooms 3 @ 24 students 1 @ 25 students Kyle Elementary 3rd Grade t 5 3rd grade classrooms 2 @ 23 students J 1 @ 24 students I Science Hall [ 4th Grade ] 5 4t" grade classrooms 12@ 23 students I fished," Pool said. McKie said the district's self-imposed "hard cap" is 24 students per a one-teacher classroom. On the Facebook page of the Hays Educators Association, the local branch of the Texas State Teachers Association, a posting about the issue appeared around 10:20 Monday night, saying, "Parents and teachers need to let the Board know that following the state mandate (or even hav- ing smaller class sizes) should be a priofityF' Board members also discussed the possibility of including blended classes, where a teacher could instruct second and third graders or third and fourth grad- ers in the same classroom, as a way of alleviating overcrowding. The district has utilized that method in the past. The board will take action on classroom waiver requests at its Sept. 22 meeting. El Camino Real Trade Days November 8th & 9th, 2014 the "El Camino Real de Io,,s Tejas National Historic Trail A Milam County committee based/non-profit event Apache Pass near Rockdale, Cameron and Thorndale, Texas "Tradin' on the trail" Bi9 Consignment Auction 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday_times and info TBA VENDORS REQUESTED Participating ECR certified vendors list coming soon! Visit our website for more information: www.elcaminorealtradedays.com If you have additional questions, please email: tradedays2014@outlook.com All vendors, please print vendor application, complete and mail with. payment to PO Box 643, Rockdale, TX 76567. 4 II ':i ill ir i I I I