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Posts published in “Day: April 29, 2008”

TEA to NF: “No money for hires”

NORTH FOREST– State representatives and board trustees continued to clash at last Monday night’s regular NFISD board meeting. The issue was primarily the financial condition of the district, but it was manifested in two actions: the board voted to rehire the former chief of police, Tyrone Walker, and staff member Edward Durant; and the second issue was changing the days of the month when employees are paid.
Many audience members, some of them employees, protested vehemently that changing the pay dates on short notice would create a hardship that might result in credit problems and evictions. The motion being considered, was to change pay dates from the 5th and 20th of the months, to the 15th and last workday of the month, starting in May. After listening to the objections, the board indicated that they thought they might not change these dates, at least until much later. But TEA representative Ron Powell told them in must be done, because the district had no money available to meet payroll, and an alternative might be to issue worthless checks. Finally a compromise was reached, that the first paycheck in May can still be issued on May 5th.
On the issue of rehiring and reinstating two employees, Walker and Durant, Rowell and Boening issued a similar ruling. Citing authority to overrule the local school board, as stated in the Texas Education Code Section 39.135 (c)(2), they said that the board vote to hire the two employees was “revoked and overturned.”
When pressed for the reason for this action by Trustee Allen Provost, Rowell said that it was a financial decision, not a personnel decision, and that the board simply cannot hire anyone at this time because “You’re Broke. There’s no money in the bank for pay day. You need every penny that we will send you on April 25th (to meet existing payroll).”
TAKS Results Good

Not all the news was bad at the meeting, however. Dr. Sharp and mr. Louis reported that TAKS test results at the elementary and middle school levels had shown vast improvement, with Reading tests at 5th grade showing an overall 72% passing and 3rd grade 80%. At middle school, overall Reading tests at 8th grade were at 82% passing, and Math at 65%. The passing level must be above 50%.
Questioned by Trustee about improving high school graduation rates, they said that resources available to improve the rate include tutors, Saturday classes, specific student packages, and on-line TAKS study guides.
Copper Theft problem
Facilities head Paul Johnson reported to the board that 5 chillers at three schools had been vandalized, and all the copper wiring and piping was gone. The schools are Learning Academy, Fonwood Elementary, and Kirby Middle school. Johnson reported that an estimate of repairs and replacement had been made by Johnson Controls, for $75,000. He noted that the insurance had a deductible of $100,000.

Water Company challenges Aldine Ratepayers’ petitions

By ARELENE NICHOLS Special to Northeast News
Texas American Water Company (TWAC) has responded to the emergency motion filed by Aldine Ratepayers Association (ARA). The company is challenging the signatures on the petitions that ARA filed with the emergency motion to suspend the proposed rate increase for 150 days.
Unless petitions are received from 10% of the water utilities customers, their legal challenge to the rate increase will not be scheduled for a hearing.
“Last year we surprised the company when we challenged their rate increase and then showed up at the public hearing with an attorney representing our folks,” said Rep. Kevin Bailey. “It appears that this year the company is preparing to fight us every step of the way. We anticipated their challenge to our petitions and consequently we have been working to collect as many signatures as possible.”

According to Texas American Water’s response, the signatures submitted by ARA appear to fall short of the 10% of customers required to mandate a hearing. TWAC contends that 185 of the 460 signatures are invalid because the name, address or phone number is illegible; the address is not listed as a TWAC customer; the name is a duplicate on another petition; or the name is not a customer of record at the service address.
“Many of the signatures they are challenging are simply a case of the family member who signed the petition not being the family member whose name appears on the water bill, “said Bailey. “ We do not have a list of customers so it puts us at a disadvantage when collecting signatures, but we are certain that we will meet the threshold criteria to move forward with a legal challenge. Since the company listed the signatures they were challenging, volunteers have been able to go back to those households and make sure we have the signature of the person whose name appears on the water bill.”
Bailey went on to explain that petitions are still be collected in three neighborhoods. If you have any questions regarding the petition drive or the contested rate case, please contact the Bailey’s district office of at 281-847-9000.