First day of school

LISD prepares for another year

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That loud noise you heard in the early morning hours a few days ago just might have been the collective sigh of relief from parents across East Texas as another school year has gotten under way.

In Lindale, traffic was thick along all the major roadways with moms and dads toting their youngsters to the first day of classes.

Lindale ISD Superintendent Stan Surratt said no major snags were reported, traffic-wise, from the first day other than the normal problems associated with the new school year.

“It usually takes about a week or two weeks to get everything ironed out,’’ he said. “Parents, kids and school officials are learning new procedures and getting to know the new kids’ names, so it’s going to take a while to get smoother.’’

Adding to the smoothing out process, Surratt said, is having experienced leaders at each of the six campuses.

“All our principals are back and this creates stable leadership at each campus,’’ he said.

Principals and their schools are:

--Valerie Payne, Lindale High School

-- Jeremy Chilek, Lindale Junior High School

-- Kyle Wright, E.J. Moss Intermediate School

-- Dana Sustaire, College Street Elementary

-- Monica Moore, Velma Penny Elementary

-- Kaela Deslatte, Early Childhood Center

The district hired 46 new teachers for 2017-18 and during a recent school board meeting trustees approved raises for the district’s educators and support staff.

Teachers received a 4.4 percent increase and support staff got a 5 percent raise. The increase in teacher and support staff salaries across the district are a result of the need to stay competitive with nearby districts, Surratt said.

LISD Board President Kelly Cox praised the teachers and staff of the district and felt the pay hike was more than justified.

“We feel that we have one of the best school districts in the state of Texas,” said Cox. “Our great staff is one of the biggest reasons for that, therefore we as a board, want to support our employees as much as possible.”

Taxpayers also received some good news on the financial front, as the board lowered the tax rate by 1 cent and managed to save $875,000 by refinancing bonds at a favorable, lower rate.

“The timing was perfect for refinancing that bond,’’ Surratt said. “(The rate) was the lowest it had been for several months.’’

Surratt said that when official attendance figures are tabulated soon, the district will have just over 4,000 students, an increase of several hundred from last year.

“Every year we look forward to welcoming our new families to the district,’’ said Surratt. “We’ll probably have in the neighborhood of 300 new families this year and we’ll make sure they are acclimated to our culture and traditions.’’

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