By Jackie Stone
The Cove Herald
Looking ahead as 2010 begins, Copperas Cove Independent School District has plans for a new school to ease the pressure of a growing student population and a spring that will include legislated changes to end of course exams and grade promotion tests.
The district is also looking back on a year that included high recognition for district administrators, teachers and programs; the loss of its deputy superintendent and a drop in rankings; and legislative changes that put drivers with cell phones on notice.
Board OKs new elementary school
This year the school board and Superintendent Rose Cameron identified the district's No. 1 goal - getting rid of CCISD's aging, overflow portable buildings.
In early discussions, the cost of a new school to accomplish that was estimated at around $15 million.
In October, the school board approved the design of an 800-student elementary school to be built at the corner of Coy Drive and Lutheran Church Road near Farm-to-Market 116 in north Copperas Cove.
Cameron said the school would be built entirely from funds the district has set aside over several years. Cameron and the school board have said they hope to approve construction bids in February 2010 so the school can be
constructed and ready for classes in fall 2011.
The bulk of construction costs are still unknown and will be set when a bid is accepted.
At its December meeting, the school board discussed the first round of bids for a construction manager at-risk. The item will likely come up at the January board meeting.
Superintendent state finalist
At the end of June, CCISD's Superintendent Rose Cameron was named the region's top superintendent by the Texas Association of School Boards. In August, she was announced as one of five finalists under consideration to be state superintendent of the year.
The 16 regional winners were first nominated for the award by their district school boards. Local nominees were submitted to a regional selection committee, which chose one nominee to send to the state selection committee.
The five finalists were chosen after interviews in August.
This was Cameron's first year to be eligible for the award. All candidates must serve as superintendent in their district for at least three years to qualify.
Though Cameron didn't win the state title, she came away with a $1,000 prize and statewide recognition for CCISD.
District's No. 2 leaves for KISD
CCISD lost its second in command in the spring.
Deputy Superintendent Robert Ott announced in April that he would be moving from CCISD to become deputy superintendent of Killeen Independent School District. Ott had been at CCISD since 2006.
Cameron said at the time she was aware Ott had applied for the KISD position, and was sad to see him leave.
"I think they're getting a great, great administrator and it's definitely our loss," she said.
CCISD has been without a deputy superintendent since Ott's departure.
TEA audits and appeals
While CCISD stayed above water with an academically acceptable rating when the Texas Education Agency announced accountability ratings last summer, it was a bump down from the district's previous recognized status.
At the same time, the district had three exemplary rated schools, up from two the year before. Those were C.R. Clements/Hollie Parsons Elementary School, Mae Stevens Elementary and Martin Walker Elementary. No schools were academically unacceptable.
Cameron attempted to appeal the rating of Copperas Cove High School in order to have the district bumped back up to recognized status, but was ultimately turned down.
TEA audit part 2
In addition to its annual audit from the state, this year CCISD responded to an audit conducted by the TEA in October 2008. The second audit resulted from a complaint within the community, Cameron said.
A preliminary report was released in March, which showed four areas that needed to be addressed, including a payment the district made that should have been paid for by Copperas Cove High School's athletic director.
The matter was resolved with TEA in the fall. Reimbursement was made along with changes in other areas. Those included wording on a local government officer conflict disclosure statement; how campus administrators report campus fundraising activities; and how the district codes student certain accounts.
Cell phones in school zones
When parents and students came back to campuses in August, they were greeted by new signs around Copperas Cove.
A new law passed by the Texas Legislature in the spring allowed cities to opt to put up signs warning drivers of an up to $200 fine for driving through and active school zone while using a cell phone.
Contact Jackie Stone at email@example.com or (254) 501-7474