Lumberton ISD School Board convened for a regular meeting on Thursday, February 9. The presentation of a special award and the story shared by the recipient captured the Board’s and attendees’ attention and hearts.
Lumberton Middle School Principal Leanna Stringer and LMS Counselor, Cynthia Smith talked about one parent who they say over the past five years has truly been a difference maker. Leigh Peaster has been working alongside with Smith to talk to LMS students regarding bullying and the effects of the behavior on victims.
Peaster’s brother had been subjected to cruel bullying and humiliation during his teenage years. She said he was tormented simply because he was seen as different; dressed differently and was not a typical athlete. Although, as Peaster says, he had a safe place at home; he could not take it anymore. In 1987, the high school senior had experienced his last humiliation. Peaster said it was easier for her brother end his life than to continue to live with the bullying.
Peaster shares her brother’s story to help students understand that “it’s up to the kids to make that difference in schools.”
Principal Stringer and Smith presented the “Making a Difference” award to Peaster for her dedication to spreading awareness about bullying in schools.
The meeting continued with the discussion and decision regarding which audit firm would be used by the district for the year ending August 2017. At the previous meeting, Board Member Kenny Burkhalter expressed that it may be wise to change auditors every few years as a good business practice; the Board determined that they would consider that option. The Mitchell Fontenote firm is an auditor that was considered by the Board and the motion to use that firm was approved.
The upcoming general election will take place May 6, 2017. Superintendent John Valastro recommended that voting take place at Lumberton Middle School on May 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Lumberton ISD 2017/2018 school calendar was the next item up for approval. Two calendars had been presented to the Board and calendar #2 was preferred. Some of the differences in this year’s calendar and the calendar approved for next year are that the school day would be extended by ten minutes and the school year would be 170 days rather than 174 days as it is this year. Superintendent Valastro said that the calendar can be adopted but they may have to go back and adjust it. Transportation and logistics issues will have to be considered.
Superintendent Valastro brought up high school graduation and said they are looking at Ford Park as the facility in which to host the ceremony.
Texas school districts have seen the preview of the new A-F School Rating System that is to be implemented in the 2017/2018 school year; and many of those districts are not pleased with the preview.
The Board discussed a resolution to join other Texas school districts in asking the Texas Legislature to repeal this system. The resolution offers an alternative to the A-F Ratings System. Regarding the current system, Valastro said that it’s fine to have accountability but they want something fair. The Board passed the motion to approve the resolution to repeal the rating system.
Valastro said, “They try to fit a square peg in a round hole. It just doesn’t fit for everybody.”
The Big Thicket Adaptive Behavior Center focuses on providing for students with special needs. The areas currently participating are Silsbee, Kountze, Lumberton, and W. Hardin. “It’s very nice to have a place for students who have difficulty in regular classrooms,” said Valastro. Sonia Cain, Special Education Director, was in attendance and mentioned that it is a therapeutic unit and not punitive and the cost is split four ways among the participating districts.
The Board went into executive session and then the meeting was adjourned.