BCISD board appoints Williams to vacancy

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

Burnet Bulletin

A former Burnet Consolidated Independent School District trustee will be returning to the board until the May election after he was appointed to replace trustee Jim Luther Jr. at Monday night's regular board meeting.

Charles Williams, who left the board earlier this year, was chosen in a 6-0 vote to replace Luther, who announced his resignation last month, effective Dec. 30, after he was elected the new Burnet County Precinct 1 commissioner.

Board President Andy Feild said Monday night due to the short timeframe between when the appointee is sworn in to the board and the May election, the board was only considering candidates with previous school board experience as replacements for Luther.

Williams, who was not present Monday night, served on the Board of Trustees from May 2013 to this past May and was on the board when it undertook its most recent bond issue and school renovations. He will be sworn in at the Jan. 16 regular board meeting. Feild said Williams indicated a willingness to serve on the board if chosen.

Luther was elected without opposition to the Precinct 1 Commissioner post in last month's general election after previously winning the Republican primary. He will be sworn in to his new position on Jan. 1. State law prohibits an individual from holding county office and serving on a school district board of trustees concurrently.

Superintendent Keith McBurnett and the Board of Trustees honored Luther for his six years of service on the board at Monday's meeting, with McBurnett presenting an engraved ballpoint pen and BCISD green polo shirt to Luther.

“As a Board Member, when Jim is presented with an issue, decision or problem he wants to know how the decision will impact students, staff and parents before he makes a decision,” McBurnett said. “He often seeks out the opinions of others or researches an issue before making a final decision. He has high expectations for himself as a board member and he has high expectations of the staff of Burnet CISD.

“He seems to always strike just the right balance of encouragement and accountability in providing oversight of the district. He is on my list as one of the best board members I have ever worked with and his leadership will be greatly missed.”

Luther was employed as deputy chief of fire operations for the City of Burnet through Nov. 30, when he retired after 25 years of servce with the department.

The board also announced that newly hired district Business and Finance Director Clay Goehring will be at the district office this Thursday to meet with staff. He will informally be meeting and working with the district until he formally begins work on Feb. 1. Goehring has been the business director at LaGrange ISD.

During Monday's meeting, trustees received a number of reports, including a presentation by Director of Elementary Curriculum Shelley Reavis about the Inspired Classrooms pilot program, which kicked off this October. The program uses technology and flexible furniture design to change the classroom learning environment, with a goal of engaging all students in learning.

Reavis said several classes participated in the pilot at the elementary schools as well as Burnet Middle School and Burnet High School. Classrooms received different furniture, including stools, upholstered chairs and couches, flip tables and stools with students allowed to choose where they wish to work. Some students even work at standing tables without a chair by choice.

Since the pilot began, Reavis and the teachers participating in the program said they have noticed greater collaboration among students, reduced paper use due to technology and better student engagement, with fewer discipline problems reported. Students view the classes as being more professional and collegiate and have indicated they are more accountable for listening and paying attention in class.

The district plans to gather more data about the pilot and could potentially expand it to other classrooms.

District officials also discussed becoming a “District of Innovation” as provided by House Bill 1842, which allows districts to pursue more local control by allowing waivers for the first day of class instruction and allowing the employment of teachers without specific certification using a permit process.

The District Advisory Committee (DAC) was being presented information about this proposal at a meeting Tuesday and the district will determine if it wishes to pursue becoming a district of innovation. If approved by TEA and the board of trustees, the designation would be good for a period of five years and can be renewed.

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