BSISD: Construction continues, dress code stalls

Work is moving along at the four Big Spring Independent School District elementaries under construction, trustees were told Thursday, but a proposal to implement a standardized dress code has stalled completely — at least for now.Thursday, board members took a tour of Goliad Elementary to see just how far the construction has progressed. “All four of the new campuses will look exactly alike as far as layout,” Maintenance and Transportation Director Wayland Pierce said. “The only difference will be each school will have its own color scheme as far as the awning and the trim around the outside.”Pierce also delivered a report regarding the redistricting of bus routes for students kindergarten through fifth grade. Unforeseen issues caused the board to push back discussion on proposed bus routes. However, Pierce did deliver an update on other issues surrounding bus routes. including a lack of drivers. At the beginning of the school year the ISD was short six drivers and was able to cut two positions, leaving four drivers. Recently, two more drivers have been lost and maintenance personnel have been filling in for those routes. “Right now we are having an issue finding bus drivers because we are in strict competition with the oilfield for that CDL (commercial drivers license) certification,” Pierce said. He reported bus drivers aren’t the only workers hard to find. Maintenance, groundskeepers and several other areas in different departments are also hard to staff at this point. There is no way the school district can compete with the booming oilfield industry in regards to pay scale, he told the board.“We will continue to get the kids there regardless,” Pierce said. “We will figure it out, but it‘s not easy right now.”Standardized dress code was a hot discussion topic Thursday night. High School Principal Mike Ritchey and Junior High Principal George Bancroft reported their findings on standardized dress code after having met with a committee and speaking with several students and parents. “The first thing I did was go to the students,” Ritchey said. There was not an overwhelming positive response from either the parents or students, according to Ritchey. He raised the question, which he deemed to be of most importance: does BSISD have a dress code problem? The conclusion from Ritchey’s findings — after speaking with other faculty members — was the problem does not exist enough to implement a standardized dress code.“With all the new changes and all that is going on academically, with everything new we are doing with our students and pushing on them to think creatively and think outside the box and then to put a standardized dress code … is kind of pulling against the direction we are wanting to go as far as freedom to think,” Ritchey said.Ritchey’s recommendation was to put the idea on hold until the need for the dress code arises. He said if he could see proof of a need or how it improved academic success then it might be something to consider. “At the high school level I think maybe we ought to slow it down, think on it some more,” Ritchey said Trustee Ken McIntosh agreed with Ritchey’s recommendation. “My feelings were it would bring on a layer of resentment we just don’t need right now,” he said.“We don’t have a large percentage of dress code issues,” Bancroft said. “If we do it, it should be about providing a very visible message and not necessarily one of discipline, but instead, sending the message that we are here for school. We are throwing a lot at a lot of people right now and to introduce that at this point is one more distraction.”According to Ritchey, when it comes to 90 percent of dress code violations at the high school level, the problems they see would not be solved with a standardized dress code. Most of the issues being dealt with in regards to dress code include saggy bottoms on the boys, piercings, hair issues and facial hair. “The standardized dress code would not solve the sagging. If they are going to sag they are going to sag,” Ritchey said. “Even if we implemented the standardized dress code we would still be dealing with 90 percent of the violations we are dealing with now.”From the beginning, several people expressed the possibility of pushing the proposal to the side for the time being. That way of thinking was reflected during Thursday night’s meeting, as well.“We want to be a school that values our students’ voice and parents’ voice. It’s important the direction we are going is a direction where we are sensitive to the needs of our community and cognizant of those things we are trying to get accomplished and that is to be very aware of the academic needs of our kids,” Superintendent Steven Saldivar said. “We don’t need to implement a dress code that wouldn’t take care of the 90 percent of the problems we have. We need to take care of the 90 percent we do have instead of putting something else on the faculty while trying to implement a more engaged student population.”Athletic Director Philip Ritchey reported on the progress of installation of turf at Memorial Stadium. According to Philip Ritchey, dirt should start being moved and rocks brought in for the laying of the astroturf within the next week or so. A design for the field has been decided upon. The project is estimated to be completed around the middle of May.The other big item up for discussion was designation as an Early College High School. A meeting was recently had with the TEA representative and several members of the design team. In the upcoming year, Saldivar said information provided shows an additional six to eight designations being added to the 54 currently in existence for the 2012-13 school year. “At this point our chances seem pretty good and our relationship with Howard College is a plus for us,” Saldivar said. The application for designation of Early College High School is expected to be released at the end of this month, according to Saldivar. Action items turning out decisions included the renaming and approval of a resolution to rename the ATC (athletic training center) to the Dorothy Garrett Athletic Training Center. Approval was also given to a proposed hazardous bus area map, which was brought up for discussion at last month’s meeting. Contact Staff Writer Amanda Moreno at 263-7331 ext. 234 or by e-mail at