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VISD board of trustees discusses texting, cell phones

Vernon ISD Superintendent Jeff Byrd reported to the VISD board that the district needed to change its use of texting. The discussion was part of Monday’s regular meeting of the VISD board for November.

Byrd said a new state law will require that the district needs to archive all school-related texts sent or received and save them.

“For how long,” trustee Michael Ruhl asked.

“Indefinitely,” Byrd said. “I don’t think the legislature has thought this through on how much this is going to cost the districts. The cost will be astronomical.”

Byrd said VISD is looking at doing away with all use of texting for school business.

“After this month I don’t get to text you guys no more,” Byrd told the board. “I can call you or send you a school email. Administrators

Byrd said the district also uses texts to remind students of homework, reminding, school announcements and notes as well as to communicate with parents. That will need to end, he said.

Trustee Kevin Young asked if the district would still be able to communicate with parents via text. Byrd said probably not.

“It’s going to be a train wreck,” Byrd said. “I don’t have an answer for you yet. We’re working on it.”

Byrd also reported that the district would be creating a new digital social media policy. He said state law requires that school posts on sites like Facebook also have to be digitally archived.

He said the district will be looking in to curtailing the number of district Facebook sites and what gets posted by the various organizations, such as the Tie Club.

Byrd also recommended going from district owned cell phones to offering a stipend of $50 for authorized individuals to use their own personal cell phones. He said data on district phones was subject to the open records act while he believed individual phones were exempt. He said this would also save the district money and allow double the number of people to be able to use cell phones. He said only one of the current cell phone users objected to the change. The board unanimously approved the recommendation.

The board approved the Wilbarger County Child Fatality Review Team. Board member JJ Oznick, who serves on the team as City of Vernon Fire Chief, said that board reviews child deaths when hey occur and makes recommendations to prevent them. He said for instance, that there were a number of deaths from 4-wheelers and Wise County, and their board recommended a campaign advocating wearing safety helmets.

The board agreed to cast the districts five votes for the Foard County Appraisal District board of directors evenly between the five nominees. The nominees are Michael Bowman, Fred Gray Jr., Mollye Hatfield, Duane Johnson, and Eldon Whitman.

The board approved the sale of a tax property at 1130 Houston Street to Skyline real Estate Services for $76.



In her Curriculum and Instruction Report, Assistant Superintendent Hope Appel stated: “The campuses have been working on intentional lesson plan and PLC formats. The new formats cause the teacher and teams to be intentional in their questions, activities for Tier 1 Instruction and for reteaching. All common formative assessments are on a calendar at each campus with their PLC to analyze the data and determine reteach areas. Parent Teacher Conferences will be held November 24 from 12:45 to 7:00 pm. Students will have a 3-hour early release on Monday and Tuesday.”

Appel discussed ways that the district is working to improve student success at Central.

Board president Emory Byars asked about student truancy at the schools. He was told the schools are working with the local law enforcement and prosecutors.

The High School report included a note that “VHS will be rolling out some new technology in the form of a drone class and club. Students will learn python coding and be able to earn a drone pilot license down the road. Students are excited.”

The Shive report noted: “TIE Club/Girls with Grace are continuing to meet weekly and are going strong. The Girls with Grace participated in the city Trunk for Treats, in which they took a school bus, and it was a big hit. The girls had a great time passing out candy. The TIE Club is starting a can food drive, and it will conclude by Thanksgiving. Both clubs are planning the etiquette class and several service projects.”

The maintenance report included that Bus 566 was still being repaired, following its collision with a cow on a return from a football game. Suburban 531 was still being repaired following a collision with a dog. Cleanup was in progress behind McCord with removal of small trees

In his report Byrd discussed: upgrading entrance and building exits at the Middle School and McCord Elementary parking lots to prevent current bottlenecking

He reported the district’s Security Camera System is no longer in compliance.

“They can be hacked and others can have access. They were all built in China. They are also obsolete, as are all of our door entrances. This will be an enormous cost to the district. We have $32,000 for security. We can use federal funding and we have requested this be part of the donation that Lincoln Energy makes,” he said

As an example, Byrd said that just the high school, which would have the most cameras, will cost close to $66.000.

Byrd and Appel reported that the district, with assistance from Wilbarger General Hospital and United Regional, trained every employee in the “Stop the Bleed” training, which is required by law. Byrd said the district will have to spend close to $5,500 to $6,000 on kits for every bus, hallway, vehicle, and sporting venue.


Three individuals were hired: Ashley Leschez and Keeley Gonzales as para-professional aides at Central Elementary; and Crystal Kieschnick as secretary maintenance.

Byrd also gave the board members their superintendent evaluation forms to fill out.

A closed session with no action was also held.

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