The Midlothian ISD board of trustees agreed on Tuesday night to keep the status quo as far as live-streaming of meetings is concerned, by continuing to provide streaming video of regular monthly meetings only, and audio only of special meetings and workshops.
MISD technology director Leslie Garakani said that as MISD approaches 10,000 students, state law requires video streaming and archiving of all board meetings when a district exceeds that enrollment. However, Garakani added, the district still will have the option of choosing audio only for special meetings and workshops.
Garakani said such additional meetings can still be streamed as long as they are held in the boardroom at the L.A. Mills Administration Building. But if any meetings were held elsewhere and video-streamed, it would require an outlay of up to $30,000 in additional video equipment. Therefore, Garakani recommended that all additional meetings continue to be audio-archived.
Trustee Tami Tobey said she supports holding all meetings in the boardroom for the sake of transparency. To her point, Garakani said with the current contract with Swagit Productions, the district can live-stream up to 25 meetings a year and right now is only using 12, so streaming could be done at no additional cost — as long as the meetings are held in the boardroom.
However, trustee Heather Prather demurred, saying she did not want to have meetings constrained to the boardroom, where other events take place such as teacher training.
Tobey made a motion and trustee Andrea Walton seconded to live-stream all meetings, but the motion failed 2-5. Prather made the motion to audio record all special meetings and workshops, and that motion carried 6-1, with Tobey voting against.
• After a long discussion, the board voted 5-2 to extend the contract of superintendent Dr. Lane Ledbetter by five years, with Tobey and Walton voting against. Tobey said she wasn’t comfortable with such a long extension, and Walton added that the board was making a long-term commitment that businesses don’t do. However, others spoke in support of Ledbetter’s extension, with board president Matt Sanders calling it “an investment in our vision going forward.”
• Members of the Midlothian High and Heritage High swimming teams were recognized by the board for qualifying for the UIL state swimming and diving championships. Athletic director Todd York said the MISD swimming program is only in its third year, and this year six individuals competed at state.
• The board heard a presentation by assistant superintendent Judy Walling on the Texas Academic Performance Report, which pulls together a number of measurements. Walling said the district was performing well in most areas, but that seventh-grade reading scores was one of the challenges the district faces.
• The board approved three new administrative positions: Brian Blackwell as executive director of financial operations; Carly Woolery as principal of Walnut Grove Middle School; and Dr. Courtney Carpenter as chief adminstrative officer.
• VLK Architects was selected from among six selected bidders to design the new elementary school on 14th Street, the district’s eighth. The board last month convened twice in special sessions to interview architects. Assistant superintendent Jim Norris said he was able to rank the presentations and VLK ranked the highest. VLK has worked with MISD before on designs for Heritage High School and McClatchey Elementary.
• Becky Wiginton, director of college/career readiness for MISD, gave an overview of mental health services that are available to students. The presentation was made at the request of trustee Walton during a previous meeting. In a related item, Wiginton said Next Steps Consulting, an East Texas-based firm, is expanding into Ellis County and is offering its mental health services at no cost to the district through August.
• The board agreed to join the North Texas Association of School Boards at an annual fee of $100. Trustee Tobey said she attended a recent meeting, met a number of superintendents from other districts and found it very informative.