By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE — Michelle McNutt is retiring, then going right back to work for her replacement.
Stephenville ISD trustees officially named Jennifer Ryan the new executive director of curriculum and instruction for the district during their regular meeting at Bond Auditorium Monday. Ryan, the wife of Three Way ISD superintendent Paul Ryan, gained curriculum experience at the elementary and junior high levels in Granbury.
The transition to K-12 curriculum for Ryan will be eased by the presence of McNutt, a 32-year veteran who will take her retirement from full-time work and return to the department in a part-time role. McNutt said popular retiring Stephenville High School teacher Dr. Rick Sherrod, also an author, is doing the same, returning to the classroom on a part-time basis.
The hiring of Ryan and classroom teachers following a closed session highlighted a meeting mostly full of formalities after the recognition of state qualifiers and champions in UIL journalism and theatrical design competitions.
Trustees heard reports from McNutt regarding STARR testing results, from SISD executive director of human resources and student services Kathy Haynes concerning the district’s Student and Community Engagement Ratings Report and from Kenneth Stokes, the SISD representative to the Erath County Appraisal District.
McNutt reported the district meets or exceeds state averages in all STARR testing with the exception of fourth grade writing. Stephenville had 65 percent of students pass fourth-grade writing requirements while the average was 70 percent statewide.
“We’re focusing on fourth-grade writing beginning with the writing process and working in all the things the state requires,” said McNutt. “You have to teach the test. It’s not about test-taking strategies anymore, it’s about really teaching the curriculum.”
McNutt noted STARR testing is so new that districts are still trying to better understand the expectations of state officials.
“I would say we have a fuzzy understanding of that right now, but I believe we’re right on par with the rest of the state in that regard.”
Haynes informed trustees all Stephenville campuses are classified as “acceptable” or “exemplary” when it comes to student and community engagement. The results are based on a survey of district parents, to which only 19 percent of those asked replied. Trustees discussed suggestions, some jokingly, to increase returns on such surveys in the future.
Stokes updated trustees on ECAD news and shared the proposed 2016 ECAD budget. He informed the board that Stephenville ISD would not be impacted by a recent settlement with Rough Creek Lodge regarding its appraisal and taxes in 2006. He also reminded trustees the ECAD is in final negotiations to purchase the old AgTexas building on the South Loop, saying its listing price was $450,000.
Trustees unanimously designated contract hiring authority to superintendent Matt Underwood during the summer months. They were also unanimous in nominating board president Dr. Ann Calahan to the Texas Association of School Boards Board of Directors and in appointing Cole Gilliam Parks as delegate and Sherrie Evans as alternate to the Texas Association of School Administrators/Texas Association of School Boards convention.
SISD graduation is part of Memorial Day weekend in 2016, and trustees verbally and informally agreed to have graduation on Friday rather than Saturday. The matter was part of the superintendent’s report and was not an action item, therefore trustees were unable to set the date.
The board was set to adopt district goals for 2015-16, but due to minor discrepancies in verbiage, the matter was tabled until the next regular meeting, set for July 20.