Swearing in

Commerce ISD Superintendent Charlie Alderman administered the oaths of office to Kathleen Hooten, Dr. Ray Green and Gabe Wittkopf following the canvassing of votes from last weekend’s election at a special meeting Tuesday. Hooten and Green had run unopposed, while Wittkopf defeated challenger Elva Resendez with more than 60-percent of the vote.

An approval was made to award a contract for renovations and a study session was held regarding the upcoming district budget at a special meeting of the Commerce ISD Board of Trustees Tuesday.

The meeting had a short agenda with just a handful of items, but with large sums of money up for discussion.

The trustees voted to award a contract to North Texas Fab to undergo renovations at the district’s Family and Community Engagement, or FACE, Center. A proposal was first heard in December 2018 and approved by the board in January to install a school-based healthy facility housed in the FACE Center and provided by Carevide. The district then voted to pledge up to $60,000 toward the renovation work at that January meeting.

The contract that was approved not only includes the Carevide facility, but also showering facilities and hookups for washers and dryers, an undertaking spurred on by a fundraising campaign started by Leadership Hunt County. North Texas Fab will perform all renovations, and their bid of $60,746.41 was approved. While this is more than $700 over the $60,000 pledged in January, this includes both projects, and $30,000 of that would be coming from the Leadership Hunt County fundraiser.

The vote passed 5-1, with trustee Dr. LaVelle Hendricks opposed and trustee Gabe Wittkopf abstaining.

Also held was a study session on the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1. Superintendent Charlie Alderman gave a presentation that went over some highlights of the proposed budget.

The budget being put forth later this summer for board approval shows that preliminary property tax appraisals are $433,762 higher than last year. Alderman, however, was quick to mention that this does not mean a huge increase in revenue for the district, as the contribution from the state is expected to be down more than $300,000 due to lower average daily attendance numbers in CISD the year prior.

Alderman explained that this means the district is budgeting for a net increase in revenues of just $113,861.

The new revenues will be put to good use, as the new budget will include teacher step raises, a two-percent raise for all administrators and non-teacher personnel, and an increase of five-percent to the band budget.

Alderman stated that the first priority is to return one teaching position to first through third grade, as a teaching position had been phased out from each grade level in recent years in leaner budget seasons. He explained that student numbers have increased to the level that an extra teacher is needed at these grade levels.

The much talked-about teacher raises being discussed in the Texas Legislature were not included in the proposed budget, as no official teacher raise bill has been signed into law yet. The district will amend the budget to account for the raises if legislation is passed in the future.

The board is expected to approve the budget in an upcoming meeting.

The results for the May 4 trustee election were canvassed and made official, with Kathleen Hooten, Gabe Wittkopf and Ray Green retaining their seats. The three took the oath of office at the meeting Tuesday.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the CISD Board of Trustees is scheduled for May 20, with public session beginning at 7 p.m.