Sherman Independent School District’s Board of Trustees started looking at the nuts and bolts of its own policies at a workshop during its regular meeting on Monday evening.

Sherman Independent School District’s Board of Trustees started looking at the nuts and bolts of its own policies at a workshop during its regular meeting on Monday evening.

Trustees discussed several policies with one another over the course of the hour-long workshop, clarifying terms and phrases and offering suggestions for changes to the district’s policies. After reviewing several policies, the Board acted to change only one of the standing policies by adding a sentence of clarification.

Trustee Kiki Osterman raised some concerns with a policy that allows members of the SISD Board to receive cash reimbursement for district-related expenses like travel and training. Several other Board members objected to changing the language, saying that the district has never had a reason to be suspicious of expenses claimed by Board members.

Trustee Tim Millerick took issue with the vague language in one policy that outlines the district’s responsibilities in hiring or retaining legal counsel. The Board decided that more research into the policy was necessary before making a motion to change it.

At the end of the workshop, the Board decided to make the workshop a bi-monthly part of its regular meetings until the policy is reviewed in its entirety by the trustees. The Board briefly adjourned into an executive session after the policy workshop to finalize the district’s decision to hire a new special education teacher and accept the retirement of four SISD educators.

During the regular public meeting, Assistant Superintendent of Finance Randy Reid facilitated a public hearing on the district’s School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas, an annual assessment of the District by the Texas Education Agency.

Reid reported that SISD received 70 out of 70 possible points on the rating system, highlighting the district’s responsible use of its own funds. Reid said that full copies of the report are available on the SISD Finance Department’s website. Millerick said, "There are in fact districts that fail (this assessment), so I commend all the people that are a part of the district."

The Board also received its independent financial audit from accounting firm Adami, Lindsey and Co. A representative from the company, Brian Grisham, presented the audit to the Board. Grisham said that the District is "in sound financial condition," with a net worth of around $21 million and about $12 million in liquid assets.

Grisham also said the district’s finances appeared to be free of corruption. "There were no findings of non-compliance to report," he said. "The financial records are kept in good order, and, as always, district personnel were helpful."

Assistant Superintendent Tyson Bennett presented the Board with a brief summary of the District’s improvement plan and each individual campus’ improvement plan. The plans are designed to help the District meet the state of Texas’ requirements for student test scores.

The trustees each had copies of the full report, which occupied a large binder. The only school to present its individualized improvement plan to the Board was Fairview Elementary, because the Falcons’ campus failed to meet one of the TEA’s standards for test scores during the last year of testing.

Bennett explained that the TEA standard Fairview failed to meet is called "Index 2," one of three metrics designed by the state as a new method of evaluating public campus’ performance. Bennett said Index 2 measures student improvement from one year to the next.

Bennett said that Index 2 was complex but "the state did a good job," since the index can help districts identify students early who may have problems with standardized testing.

Fairview Elementary Principal Michelle Eackles presented her school’s "targeted improvement plan" and answered several questions for the trustees. Eackles was accompanied to the meeting by about a dozen educators and parents. "I’d also like to thank Team Fairview for coming out here," Eackles said.

Eackles said in her presentation that the school planned to use staff development and data assessment to improve their Index 2 performance. The principal said that the Falcons’ administrators will work to identify teachers who may need assistance in a certain area of education, and give those teachers the chance to observe other educators who are more successful in that area.

Among other specific plans to improve the elementary school students’ performance, Eackles said that the school plans to assess and evaluate reading-level data every three to four weeks schoolwide. "We feel like our focus is on student instruction," Eackles said. "We know a lot about Index 2, which we didn’t know anything about before."

Eackles’ frank admission drew laughter from the Board. The trustees voted unanimously to accept the improvement plans presented by Bennett and Eackles.

The trustees also voted on how the District would distribute its 1,066 votes for the Grayson Central Appraisal District Board. After a long debate between Board members, the trustees moved to give Trustee Lynn Mitchusson 834 votes and split the remaining 232 votes between two other candidates.

The District moved to accept three gifts: $30 from Douglass Distributing for after-school programs, $1,500 from Bob Utter Ford for a ninth grade English field trip, and $2,000 from the Fairview Parent-Teacher Association for multimedia equipment at the school.