School board begins considering bond measure

Border Patrol agent Florencio Bermudez was sworn in as the newest CCAISD board member during the July 22 meeting. (VHA-Photo/SC)
Border Patrol agent Florencio Bermudez was sworn in as the newest CCAISD board member during the July 22 meeting. (VHA-Photo/SC)

First day of school is Aug. 23

By Shanna Cummings

The Culberson County-Allamoore school board welcomed a new member during their July 22 meeting. Border Patrol agent Florencio Bermudez takes the seat left by Eddie Seyffert.

The evening’s business didn’t focus on what was happening so much as what could happen. The board discussed a number of important potential ventures presented for consideration by Superintendent Ken Baugh during his Superintendent’s Report in preparation for the new budget cycle. Topics addressed in the Superintendent’s report are not listed on the meeting agenda, and are for information and discussion only. They may be presented for action in future meetings, should board members advise.

Baugh said he would soon present a possible bond package for the board to consider and discuss in order to take advantage of oil and gas and property values while possible. The bond would include a tax cut in Interest and Sinking for county residents. Funds provided by the bond would allow the school district to address a number of issues, including additional play areas and student gathering spaces at the school, as well as buildings to protect transportation fleet vehicles and renovations to the homes owned by the district.

Baugh said the district has applied for and may receive $1.4 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) 3 fund to be used very specifically over three years. This would allow the district $400,000 each of the three years to target issues identified by the grant. Baugh suggested the board focus on bolstering district employee salary and new technology and software, as well as retaining a qualified full time emotional needs counselor and a teacher to head credit recovery.

Baugh also mentioned other projects the board has identified in the past that they may address as funding is available, including upgrading the transportation fleet and installing an ion filtration system in the school to protect against Covid-19. 

Baugh spoke at length about the school district possibly funding the daycare and Boys and Girls Club and allotting $400,000 for it in the next budget should the board desire. The board has considered this action in the past. Baugh said he wants to develop a “high quality daycare,” to start developing students early on to succeed in the early college and dual credit environment at the school, he explained, while keeping enrollment fees as low as possible, potentially based on income. The Boys and Girls Club next to the daycare would be part of the package, and would be useful for hosting tournaments.

Also in this meeting:

The board tabled election of officers, since they did not have every board member present at the time.

Board members approved a budget amendment presented by Baugh reflecting relocated funds to cover expenses.

The board approved the CCAISD 2021-2022 school year calendar, including a waiver allowing the district to count a number of teacher training hours as student classroom hours. The calendar includes time built in to address the possibility of closures. Baugh reiterated that remote school will not be offered this year except in extreme individual cases.

Board members approved allowing Baugh to take the next steps in paying back excess tax collections due to oil and gas in the state. Baugh said the district usually opts to return the funds to the state. They also learned of the receipt of a $2,000 donation from the Communities Foundation on behalf of Miles Schultz in honor of State Trooper Mike Schultz. The memorial for Trooper Schultz was held in the Van Horn school auditorium. “We didn’t expect anything,” Baugh said. “We’re just so happy to be of service.”

Baugh also spoke about the possibility of renovating the Board Room building, which was damaged during February’s extreme winter weather. Renovations, if completed at current price of materials, would cost around $720,000. Baugh asked board members to consider if they would like to complete renovations now, since the building fund still has $600,000, or if they would like to wait to see if the price of materials goes down. The building will also undergo asbestos removal. Baugh said the board room building once renovated could also be used as a conference center and a space to host professional development and training events, as well as provide storage.