The Commerce Independent School District Board of Trustees authorized a memorandum of understanding with the Texas A&M University-Commerce Psychology Department to provide low-cost counseling services to students at its regular November meeting Monday.
The agreement was not explained in great detail at the board meeting, but Alison Walker, the Family Services Coordinator for Commerce ISD spoke with the Herald-Banner on Tuesday to elaborate further.
Walker said that the agreement has been coordinated by herself and Dr. Sean Lauderdale, assistant professor of psychology at A&M-Commerce. She says that this agreement will open up mental health resources to CISD students and possibly their families as well.
“We are very excited about this partnership,” Walker said. “Being able to offer affordable mental health services is huge to our district.”
Walker said that counseling sessions will be facilitated through the A&M-Commerce Counseling Center and would come at a cost of $5 per session.Counseling would be provided by graduate-level students at A&M-Commerce under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. The details are still being ironed out, and it is possible that sessions could be held at the district’s Family and Community Engagement Center, located behind Commerce Middle School.
She added that these counseling sessions would be by referral only. School counselors, teachers, administrators and others would refer students to the program. She also said that there is a possibility that these services could be opened up to students’ families and even employees further down the road. There is not start date for the partnership yet.
“I am anxious to get this up and running,” Walker said.
Trustees also heard an update on the district’s accountability and school improvement process. The district is required to maintain a comprehensive improvement plan for A.C. Williams Elementary School and Commerce Middle School after those campuses scored a “D” and “F,” respectively, in the state’s A-F Accountability ratings system this year.
Hannah Farrell, the district coordinator of school improvement for CISD, along with Sheila DeMidio and Cari Sturch, site coordinators at A.C. Williams and Commerce Elementary School, gave an update of the progress of the improvement plans, which were approved by the board in October.
“Our small group intervention is up and running at Commerce Middle School and has been working great so far,” Farrell said. “We have been working not just with struggling students, but students that are “on the bubble” from making it to the next level of proficiency.”
DeMidio also added that A.C.Williams is using the Euphoria platform to track student growth after each unit test, and are adjusting the small group learning sessions according as the data changes.
Several recognitions were doled out at the meeting. Both the Commerce High School boys and girls cross country teams were honored for reaching the UIL 3A state meet earlier this month. The boys finished 15th overall and the girls finished 14th in their first-ever trip to the state competition.
The CHS Roaring Tiger Band was honored for finishing seventh at the UIL Area C marching competition. This was the first time in at least a decade that the CHS marching band reached the Area level.
On top of that, CHS sophomore Michael McWhorter was recognized for being selected to the Association of Texas Small School Bands All-State Jazz Band, being one of only 25 students in the state across all 1A through 4A schools selected.
In addition, the board voted to renew the district’s membership in to Walsh Gallegos Legal Services Retainer Program, which provides over-the-phone legal counseling for just $1,000 per year.
Trustees approved measures casting votes for candidates on both the Delta County and Hunt County Appraisal District Board of Directors. The board voted unanimously to cast ballots in favor of Allen Beeler in Delta County and John Sands in Hunt County.
Also passed was an update to the Texas Association of School Boards Local Policy, which included changes to public participation in board meetings, student crisis intervention and student records.
Enrollment was down for the first time in a while, being listed at 1,519 students, down 15 from last month.
The next regular meeting of the Commerce ISD Board of Trustees is scheduled for Dec. 16, with public session beginning at 7 p.m.