The Longview Independent School District Board of Trustees approved pursuing a COVID-19 testing protocol for both students and staff, during a special meeting Wednesday, Aug. 26th.

Trustees approve COVID-19 testing partnership

Wed Aug 26, 2020

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The Longview Independent School District Board of Trustees approved pursuing a COVID-19 testing protocol for both students and staff, during a special meeting Wednesday, Aug. 26th.

US-Med-Test-logoBoard members approved a preliminary agreement with U.S. MedTest Affirmative Solutions Group, a premier provider of testing, tracing, and tracking products and technologies supporting the global pandemic response.

"This could be a big deal. Longview would be the only school district in the entire country undertaking something like this right now," said Dr. James Wilcox, LISD Superintendent of Schools.

Dr. Wilcox explained that the plan could include once- or twice-weekly testing of district students and staff, as well as any campus visitors, with results available "in minutes or hours, instead of days and weeks."

"This could enable Longview ISD to take action almost immediately to ensure that our campuses and district facilities are as safe from COVID-19 as possible," he said. "That includes the possibility of pre-game testing for extracurricular competitions."

Dr. Wilcox told trustees that more details would be available in the coming days, as the district leadership continues to discuss various aspects of the program with company officials, as well as government authorities.

"One of the main goals [of this program] is to provide customized, end-to-end protocols through a multi-system approach that allows us to balance the medical, ethical, legal, and financial scales as we continue to battle this pandemic," he said. "We are focused on applying every available resource at our disposal to ensure a consistently safe environment and comprehensive plan for our students, our staff, our parents, and our entire community."
 

GearBox Curriculum

Board members also approved the adoption of the GBX Creative Computing Curriculum.

Gearbox-Software-logoThe program, designed by Frisco-based video game studio Gearbox Software, incorporates International Baccalaureate (IB), Science Technology Engineering & Math (STEAM), and Project-Based Learning (PBL).

"By 2022, experts forecast the gaming industry will produce $196 billion in revenue," said Ms. Shalona McCray, District STEAM & Community Engagement Coordinator. "It's no wonder then that tech giants like Apple and Google are trying to cash in by launching gaming streaming services"

The approval will allow Gearbox Software pilot their video game design and production program on Foster, Judson, and Longview High campuses.

McCray explained that a full third of the world's population — 2.6 billion people — play video games, "plugging into massive networks of interaction that have opened up opportunities well beyond entertainment."

"Gearbox’s training materials are designed for teachers to customize curriculum according to their class needs and capabilities," she added.

Click here to download the resolution and related documentation.
 

Balanced Budget

Board members also held a public hearing before unanimously voting to approve the Proposed 2020-2021 Budget and Tax Rate.

LISD Chief Financial Officer Mr. Joey Jones is projecting a balanced General Operating budget of $90.2 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year, which calls for property tax cuts and significant state revenue from their public school charter partnerships.

Mr. Jones said the total proposed budget revenue is about $90.2 million, which is about an $8.3 million increase from the 2019-20 budget. The total proposed expenses are about $90.2 million.

The revenues are a mix of local, state, and federal funds for operations during the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Jones said the budget as currently presented to the board "is a complete picture of next year" and that potential disruptions related to COVID-19 "will be handled as they present themselves".

The proposed maintenance and operations tax rate is $.9664 and the interest and sinking tax rate is .4730 cents for a total tax rate of $1.4394 per $100 valuation. The tax rate is a decrease from the current rate, which is $1.4431 per $100 valuation.

Jones explained that the district is adopting a tax rate that will raise more taxes for Maintenance & Operations than last year's rate. 

"The tax rate will effectively be raised by .478 percent, and will raise taxes on a $100,000 home by approximately negative -$4," he said. 

Click here to download the 2020-21 district budget and tax rate.
 

SSC Contract Extension

SSC-services-logoThe board approved a contract extension for custodial services with SSC Services. The cost for the district is $2,951,131, with a 1.7 percent Consumer Price Index increase.

Mr. Jones told board members that the partnership "provides us with additional resources in our changing environment and together we address the needs of the district."

The Dallas-based company handles janitorial services throughout the district.

Click here to download the resolution and related documentation.
 

In other business...

During the course of the meeting, the LISD Board of Trustees also approved Career and Technology Courses and Pathways for the 2020-21 Longview High School Course Selection Guide; funding for the administration of the Iowa and CogAT AssessmentsCommunities in Schools contracts for 2020-21; Local At-Risk Criterion for 2020-21; and official minutes of the Aug. 10th Regular Meeting.
 

For more info

Trustees usually meet in the boardroom of the LISD Education Support Center (1301 E. Young Street), but often set special-called meetings at various locations around the district.

The next regular meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. Sept. 14th.

Due to public health protocols currently in place, the public will not be admitted into the trustees' boardroom. The meeting will be streamed online at LISD.org/BoardroomLive.

For more information about the Longview ISD Board of Trustees please click here.