McCutchen cites attendance concerns

Alpine High School FFA Skills Team members Raelynn Macias, Gloria Skinner, Katy Jahn, and Amory Aranda presented their livestock vaccination project to Alpine ISD trustees on Dec.16. The team placed first in District competition and fourth in Area during the FFA Leadership Development Events held in November.

Alpine ISD Board of Trustees held its regularly scheduled meeting on Dec. 16, and Superintendent Becky McCutchen addressed the topic of lower student attendance across the district, which stood at 940 as of Dec. 11. School districts receive funding based on average daily attendance calculations.

McCutchen said average daily attendance was down to 875 students due to COVID-19, and that was hurting the district financially. She told trustees she addressed the topic of ADA funding with Texas Education Agency Commissioner of Education Mike Morath, and further information would be forthcoming.

“Our ADA is hurting financially, and causing a bit of a problem with our funding coming in,” said McCutchen. “TEA needs data, and so much of our accountability is based on growth. They need to know how much COVID has affected students,” said McCutchen.

Furthermore, TEA will not issue A-F accountability ratings for the 2020-2021 school year, but state mandated standardized tests would remain in place, along with end-of-course exams for the high school.

District CFO Tucker Durham then discussed Alpine ISD’s rating on the financial integrity system of Texas, the state’s school district financial accountability system. Durham said Alpine ISD received a superior financial rating of A.

In other business, architect Les Burke of Midland architectural firm Parkhill provided an update on the high school construction project. He said Weatherford-based Imperial Construction was making good progress on the site, and construction was moving forward as scheduled. Trustees then reviewed three bid proposals received for the asbestos abatement project. The contractors under consideration were RL Abatement out of Weslaco, Midland-based Vanco Abatement, and American Abatement out of San Antonio. Commissioners unanimously approved the lowest cost option, Vanco Abatement, at an approximate cost of $85,000, with a 20-day completion date. The first phase of the abatement will take place over the Christmas break when no students or staff are in the building.

Burke later told the Avalanche the second phase would be worked on over the summer break, with a final phase in Dec. 2021.

Finally, high school PrincipalJustin Gonzales praised the achievements of football players Blake Billings, Brady Crump, Isaiah Nunez, and Ryelan McBride, who had earned Texas High School Coaches Association Academic All-State Honors.

The next regularly scheduled Board of Trustees meeting is set for Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at the high school library and via Zoom videoconference.

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