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Friday, August 18, 2000

TEA recognizes three P-B-T campuses

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 18, 2000 - Three Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD campuses received a "recognized" rating from the Texas Education Association's ratings for the state's school districts, which were released on Thursday.

Crockett Middle School eighth grade, Lamar Middle School sixth grade and Bessie Haynes Elementary School received a recognized rating while all the other campuses received an acceptable rating.

P-B-T ISD Superintendent Don Love was busy this morning passing out accountability ratings to all the schools and visiting with the principals of the respective campuses.

"They did an outstanding job," said Love. "There are some areas that we need to work on, but otherwise we're very pleased with how we did."

Love stated that the district had a principals meeting to work things out and talk about the trouble areas.

"We do need some work done at third grade and the high school, but they're doing real good," said Love. "They're already working on the problems and doing a lot better."

Love stated that math scores were up, the reading scores a little bit lower, but that the principals are already working on targeting the problem areas. "We're really pleased with our employees, they're doing an excellent job and it's tough, but we can improve ourselves," he said.

Balmorhea ISD and its only campus received acceptable ratings from the TEA. Area school districts receiving overall recognized ratings were the Alpine, Andrews, Buena Vista, Crane, Culberson County-Allamoore, Greenwood, Iraan-Sheffield, Monahans-Wickett-Pyote, Valentine and Wink-Loving ISDs.

The only area school district to receive an exemplary rating was Terrell County ISD (Sanderson).

No area school districts received a low performing rating. Area low-performing schools were Odessa and Permian high schools in the Ector County ISD, Goliad Elementary in the Big Spring ISD, Kermit Junior High School in the Kermit ISD and De Zavala Elementary in the Midland ISD.

In other school business, Love stated that the resignation of school board member Frank "Kokie" Apolinar, Jr. might be on the next school board agenda.

Apolinar turned in his resignation recently and his resignation will be discussed and action taken during the next board meeting. "He did an excellent job for us, we'll certainly miss him, but he did a great job for us," said Love.

"I think he really cares for the kids and he certainly did his best for them and the staff," he added.

Enrollment down for first week of year

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 18, 2000 - Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School District enrollment is down from the fourth day enrollments from last year.

Secretary to the Superintendent Jo Alligood said classes began earlier than previous years and usually enrollment does not pick up until after Labor Day.

"We always have kids that hold out till Labor Day," Alligood said.

Although enrollment is down by 69 students from last year, the district does expect to have enough students to receive its planned level of state funding.

Superintendent Don Love stated the dropout rate is lower, but the amount of students attending school is still lower than he anticipated. "I'd like to see more kids in here," said Love.

After Labor Day late students tend to drift in, and Love stated that he certainly hopes that is what will happen this year as well. "The number goes up after Labor Day and that's what we're hoping will happen," he said.

Love said in a recent school board meeting that the district is planning for state aid totaling $9.83 million for the upcoming year. The amount of funding the district receives however is based on an estimated district enrollment of 2,687.591 students.

Certain state funds also depend on the number of students in the special education, career and technology and gifted and talented programs, Love added.

As of yesterday, enrollment in the district is 2,770 students, compared with 2839 a year ago. When separated out by age, enrollment in not down in all grade levels.

The pre-kindergarten classes have 14 more students than the same time last year and the second grade classes are up by 30 students.

Sixth grade enrollment is up by four students while tenth grade enrollment is up by three students.

The senior class at Pecos High School is up by 35 students as opposed to last year's enrollment, while freshman enrollment is down by 31. Overall high school enrollment is 823 students, which includes alternative education students at Carver Center. That number is up three from last year.

Decreases are reported at Austin Elementary first grade, Pecos Elementary third grade, Bessie Haynes Elementary fourth and fifth grades and Crockett Middle School seventh and eighth grades.

Alligood said after today the schools would not be taking anymore enrollment until the day after Labor Day.

District closer to computer network goals

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 18, 2000 - The Pecos-Barstow-Toyah Independent School District has grown to meet the technological needs of the world.

The district's technology coordinator, Jodi Exum, said P-B-T has been working on a long-range technical plan since the early 90s to build up a technology system. Exum and her staff have been working to achieve the goals since started her job six years ago.

"For the last five years we've concentrated on networking the district," she said.

Exum said most of the district's schools are networked.

"We are about 95 percent finished with the networking," she said adding that her staff would be adding the PHS New Gym and Field House to the network this year.

Classrooms, libraries and offices all over the district are included in the network with the Lamar Alternative Center office in the process of completion into the network.

All campuses have Internet access and the computers with Internet access also contain a content filter that allows the district to screen out inappropriate material.

"That has helped us keep things educational minded," Exum said.

Exum and her staff are also in the process of finishing a district web page, where eventually teachers would post lesson plans and have e-mail for parents to contact them with questions.

Exum said she is currently waiting to hear if the school district has received a grant for $300,000 so she could order new computers to replace older ones. The money would also go towards buying more printers as well as other equipment.

"The grant money would go to mostly multimedia presentation equipment," she said.

In fact, all of the technology equipment purchased by the district has been with various sources of funding. Exum said local and state money has been used as well as numerous grants the district has applied for and more recently federal government money.

P-B-T has purchased a lot of equipment by using these different sources and Exum wants to assure the community that they are not just going out and spending a lot of money.

"We're pulling our pennies," she said.

By doing so over the years, the district has purchased 1,600 computers, 650 printers, 21 servers and an interactive video conferencing system that was free to the district through a grant.

Exum said by having so much equipment available to the students there has been advancements in allowing more students use the equipment. Years ago only a few select students where able to use the computers and software but all that is changing.

"We gear toward equal access to the technology," Exum said.

Exum also said the district is very fortunate to have so much technology within the district. She told of two men from New Jersey coming to Pecos to work on the district computers saying they were amazed at the number of computers in each school.

"They couldn't believe that we had so many computers," she said.

The men told her that up north most schools only had one computer lab. PHS alone has at least one computer in most of the classrooms. Exum said only 20 classrooms at PHS do not have a computer but hopes to bring that number to 100 percent with computers by the end of this year.

Eventually, Exum hopes to have enough computers in the district to allow for one computer for every three students and one computer for every member of the professional staff.

Exum explains what each grade level is able to use the computer equipment for.

Pecos Kindergarten and Austin Elementary first grade will soon be able to purchase new software called the Waterford Early Reading Program where the student would be able to work on their reading skills. This program would replace the program Writing to Read program the district has used for the past 10 years, making it more effective for the students.

"It's especially effective for the bilingual and ESL (English as a second language) students," Exum said.

Second through sixth grade students are able to go to the computer lab every day for a computer assisted instruction class to work on different areas of learning.

Every student in seventh grade spends one semester in a keyboarding class where they learn how to type and use the computer as well as get Internet training.

In eighth grade every student is enrolled in a computer application/career connection class where they learn different software such as power point presentations and how to navigate the Internet.

The high school offers many classes using computers ranging from keyboarding to business computer information systems I and II and computer science classes as well as business imaging management and multimedia. Core classes such as English, math and science also use computer labs as part of the curriculum. Agriculture and art classes also use computers.

Exum is also in charge of the Eagle TV (Cable Ch. 11) where announcements and sports schedules are displayed for the public. She said she and her staff are working on eventually displaying students' power point projects as well as taped projects or events for families and friends to see.

Exum said the district was able to add all the technology equipment through the long-range technological plan that a committee made up of members from each campus works to update each year.

She believes that this plan has made all the changes possible.

"I think the key is planning and support from the administration," Exum said. "The only way we've been able to do all this is we've had a very supportive administration and board for the past six years."

Exum said "our door is always open" to visits from the public and if anyone has any questions or school related information to be posted on channel 11 call 447-7227.

Task Force aids in Amarillo drug bust

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 18, 2000 - The Trans-Pecos Drug Task Force took part in a two-month investigation in which six individuals in the Texas Panhandle were detained and several were booked into the Potter County Jail on drug charges, following a two-month investigation that the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force helped with.

The Panhandle Regional Narcotics Trafficking Task Force, working with the Trans Pecos Drug Task Force, of Pecos, wrapped up the investigation, which involved the delivery of nearly $60,000 in cocaine.

"During that investigation, six individuals were detained and several others were arrested," said task force commander Gary Richards. "The names are not being released at this time, though."

The individuals that were arrested were charged with conspiracy to deliver 4.4 pounds of cocaine.

Other arrests are expected, according to Richards.

Other assisting departments in the arrest of the suspects were the Amarillo Police Department Swat Team, Pampa Police Department, Borger Police Department, Swisher County Sheriff's Office, and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The individuals were taken into custody after they delivered 944.44 grams of cocaine to undercover officers, said Richards.

Street value of the drugs would be approximately $59,449.

Charges will be presented to the Potter County District Attorney's Office in Amarillo later today.

State blocks power cut-off during summer heat

Staff Writer

PECOS, August 18, 2000 - Texas-New Mexico Power Company is working with their customers during the summer months to continue to provide service to customers who have problems keeping their electric bill payments up to date.

Effective immediately and continuing through September, Texas' electric utilities are prohibited from disconnecting service to residential customers for non-payment if the customer has agreed to a deferred payment plan for past due amounts.

The rule adopted by the Public Utility Commission (PUC) requires electric utilities to contact delinquent customers and offer them deferred payment plans.

"Basically, if it's a heat advisory day, which all of them seem to be this summer, we try to work with our customers in paying their bills," said Valerie Smith, Director of Communications for TNMP in Fort Worth.

"We follow the rules set by the PUC, because we realize that the summers can be hard on customers," said Smith.

Customers choosing not to enter into a deferred plan are subject to disconnection. The rule does not apply to municipal utilities and electric cooperatives, which are not subject to PUC regulation.

Residential disconnections are prohibited from now until Sept. 30. The Commission adopted the rule to keep customers from facing health risks by not cooling their homes because of high electricity costs.

"One thing about this PUC rule, is that we strongly encourage customers to come in and make arrangements," said Smith.

During the heat wave in 1998, a lot of customers did not make any payment arrangements until it was too late and they were still trying to pay off huge bills during the Christmas holidays, according to Smith.

The persistent heat this summer threatens Texans' health and safety. The Texas Department of Health reports that 53 people have died in the state this year as of Aug. 8 from heat-related causes.

All plans must allow for past due amounts to be paid in equal installments for up to six billing cycles at the customer's request. However, a 12-month level payment plan to recover past and current amounts can be used if both the utility and customer agree.

The emergency rule strengthens current law which prohibit an electric utility from disconnecting service to any customer for at least two days after the National Weather Service has issued a heat advisory for any county in the utility's service area.

Many utilities already offer programs such as partial payment, time extensions and balanced billing to avoid disconnection. In addition many utilities provide programs to help low-income and elderly customers pay their bills. Texas will receive $14.3 million in Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) federal emergency funds. The funds will be available through community-based organizations and local provider networks.

"We're really very flexible and willing to work with our customers," said Smith. "We realize there's a heat wave and want to help and certainly not hurt any of our customers."

Customers may call 1-877-399-8939 toll free for a referral to a local assistance provider.

Deadline today for youth grid registrations

PECOS, August 18, 2000 - Today is the final day to sign up players in Grades 3 through 6 for the Pecos Eagles' Pee Wee football league.

Parents can sign up their children at the old Pecos High School gym. Registration fee is $20 per player. Teams will be divided into Grades 3-4 and Grades 5-6 and are scheduled to begin play on Saturday, Sept. 9. Teams will be announced following the player draft, scheduled for tomorrow.

Also on Saturday, the Pecos Eagle Booster Club will be selling hamburgers and sodas during the high school varsity and JV scrimmages against Carlsbad as a fundraiser. Play will begin with Pecos and Carlsbad's varsity squads at 10:30 a.m., and the scrimmages should last until about 2 p.m.


Charles Sullivan

Services are incomplete for Charles Sullivan, 60, who died Thursday, Aug. 17, 2000, at Medical Center Hospital in Odessa.

Pecos Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


PECOS, August 18, 2000 - High Thursday 99. Low this morning 68. Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy. Low 65-70. South wind 5-15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. High near 103. South wind 5-15 mph. Saturday night: Partly cloudy. Low 65-70. Sunday: Partly cloudy. Low 65-70. Highs in the upper 90s.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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