Rusk ISD to consider adding ‘Dean of Instruction’

RUSK – Two unused portable classrooms will soon find new homes at Alto ISD, thanks to a generous decision by the Rusk school board, which recently voted to sell the buildings to the neighboring district for a dollar each.

“We own two portable classrooms that are not being utilized, and Alto ISD is in desperate need of classroom space for their high school students, due to the (April 13) tornado that destroyed their high school building,” said Rusk ISD Superintendent Gray Burton. “The board adopted a resolution to sell both portables for $1 each, while Alto ISD will pay for the transporting and setup of the buildings.”

Trustees kicked off their May 13 meeting with the canvassing of results from its May 4 election, swearing in incumbents Tracy Session and Jake Ocker, along with newcomer James Sanchez. New board officers are president Britt Patterson, vice president Tracy Session and Martin Pepin, board secretary.

Among the action items on the agenda was a name change for Rusk Primary School.

According to Burton, trustees “approved to change (it) back to its original campus name of G. W. Bradford School,” named for George Washington Bradford, principal of the 'Rusk Colored School' from 1936 to 1948.

The historic school was named for Bradford following his retirement in 1952, and housed a desegregated program until the 1968 school year. In following years, the campus housed a Head Start Preschool program; in 1980, Rusk began its Kindergarten program at the location.

By 1984, Burton said, the school was renamed Rusk Primary, but that decision “was not well received by members of the community who lived around the campus or attended high school at the location.”

A request was made earlier this year by Rusk City Councilman Walter Session to “consider changing the name of Rusk Primary back to its original name of G. W. Bradford School,” Burton said. “We visited about the history of the campus, the significance it held for many of our community members, and the circumstances of the prior decision to change the name in 1984.

“After several months of research and discussions with our board of trustees, I decided to recommend changing Rusk Primary back to its original name of G.W. Bradford School. The foundation of this decision is our district's desire to promote the Rusk ISD 'brand.' We want our students, staff and community to invest and identify with something greater than themselves. To realize, regardless of who we are individually, there is one thing we all share, WE are Rusk ISD. We will embrace OUR history, honor those who were here before us, and build a legacy for those that come next,” Burton said.

In other action, RISD trustees:

• Approved a design build contract with TASB/E3 for $1,156,491 to replace all interior and exterior lights district wide to LED, including Eagle stadium. The contract also will cover the installation of a network thermostat system at the intermediate school as well as a direct digital control system with variable speed to control the humidity levels in the coliseum.

“These projects will save the district $85,727 a year in utility and maintenance cost. All interior lights have 10 year free replacement warranty, the exterior lights have 5- to 10-year replacement warranty and the stadium lights have a 25-year parts and labor warranty,” he said.

• Approved the installation of video message boards at all campuses, as a means of providing “better communication to parents and community members,” he said. The double-sided, 16-mm resolution full video message boards, will be purchased from Leon Signs at a total cost of $187,855. The boards will be installed this summer.

• Voted to extend its current depository contract with Citizens 1st Bank for two more years;

• Approved engaging Alexander, Lankford and Hiers to conduct the districts auditing services;

• Approved TMT Maintenance services to provide the district janitorial service; and

• Approved the employment of Jan Evans as principal of the local intermediate school, where she has been serving as interim principal since January, as well as the employment of nine other faculty/staff members and two non-chapter 21 contracts. A total of eight resignations and one retirement also were accepted during the meeting.