Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Friday, August 2, 2002
P-B-T schools get mostly above average ratings from TEA
From Staff and Wire Reports
Accountability results are in and Pecos-Barstow-Toyah ISD schools received
generally above-average ratings, with one local school receiving an
All but one of the district's five campuses that were included in
the Texas Education Agency's ratings received one of the top two rankings
this year, led by Bessie Haynes Elementary School. The district's fourth
and fifth grade campus received a ranking of "Exemplary," while the district
itself was rated "Acceptable."
Balmorhea ISD also received an "Acceptable" rating for its campus according
to the TEA, which are based on Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS)
results, with extra attention paid to how poor and minority students
perform on the standardized test, and dropout rates.
Pecos High School was rated as `Recognized' as were Austin Elementary
School and Zavala Middle School. Austin is home to the district's first through
third grade classes, while sixth graders attend Zavala Middle School.
The district's other campus that was rated, Crockett Middle School, received
an `Acceptable' rating for its seventh and eighth grade students. Crockett's
rating kept P-BT ISD from receiving an overall "Recognized" rating from the
Statewide, The TEA said most Texas public schools earned good grades last year
but tougher standards took their toll: 162 schools were tagged low-performing
in 2002, up from 100 a year ago.
In all, 17 of the state's 1,040 districts were given the lowest rating,
meaning they are considered academically unacceptable. That's up from
one district in 2001.
In the Pecos area, the Monahans-Wickett-Pyote and Wink-Loving ISD received
the best scores. All campuses in Wink-Loving ISD and the district itself
received an overall "Exemplary" rating, as did Monahans-Wickett-Pyote and
all of its elementary and junior high campuses. Monahans High School received
a "Recognized" rating from the TEA.
Fort Stockton ISD was given an overall "Acceptable" rating. All campuses
also received that ranking with the exception of Alamo Elementary, which
was given a "Recognized" rating.
Andrews ISD was given an overall "Recognized" raking, with all campuses
receiving that mark with the exception of San Andreas Elementary, which was
Favorable ratings - exemplary, recognized and acceptable - can mean
celebrations and bragging rights, just as a low performing label can
bring shame and cost educators their jobs.
Texas Education Commissioner Felipe Alanis said the number of schools
that earned the lowest ratings surged because of higher passing standards
and a test that for the first time included social studies in the scoring.
Low-performing schools get extra state attention, and if they remain
unacceptable for two consecutive years, parents can move their children
to better schools within the same district.
The release of 2002 state accountability ratings marked the end of
an era of improvement for Texas' 4.1 million schoolchildren.
This past school year, 1,908 of Texas' 7,000 public school campuses
earned the top mark, up from just 67 in 1994. Altogether, 6,378 campuses
earned the top three marks, up from 6,367 schools last year.
Since the TAAS became the cornerstone of the system nearly a decade
ago, students have consistently scored better and schools have steadily
improved as standards increased. The achievement gap between minority
and white students has shrunk, as has the space between poor children
and wealthier ones.
"We know there is still work to be done, but the improved academic
performance we have seen in this state since the accountability system
began is a testament to the hard work of educators, students and parents,"
Thursday signified the start of a new, more difficult system some
fear will result in more failures.
Beginning next school year, the state will have a tougher accountability
system centered around the broader, more difficult Texas Assessment
of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS.
The state won't rate schools next year to give them time to adjust,
but students will still be held accountable. High school students must
pass the test to graduate and no longer will third-graders advance to
fourth grade if they fail the test.
"The new, more difficult TAKS test and the practice of holding students
back that don't pass that test in third grade next year is a daunting
challenge. It may take some time and a few hard knocks," said Sheila
Fields, a second-grade teacher and president of the Association of Texas
This past school year, almost 14 percent, or 37,000 of the state's
267,000 third-grade pupils, did not pass the TAAS. That's down from
29 percent a year ago, but not good enough, especially considering next
year's high stakes, Alanis said.
Alanis promised that the state would work with educators to help the
pupils, most of them non-English speakers, as early as possible.
Out of the 1.8 million students enrolled in grades seven through 12,
1 percent, or 17,563, dropped out of school, the commissioner said,
down from 1.3 percent, or 24,457, who quit school last year.
The rate was higher for black and Hispanic students - 1.3 percent
and 1.4 percent, respectively.
Alanis said the state is working to develop a better definition of
dropout to address criticism from some who say Texas severely underestimates
Last year, more than a third of the schools that earned the state's
lowest academic rating were charter schools, which receive taxpayer
money but are free from many state regulations.
In 2001, 42 percent of the 100 low-performing campuses were charter
schools. That number fell to 40 campuses this year, 25 percent of all
The number of charters earning the highest rating tripled from five
in 2001 to 15 this year.
Many charter schools are new and teach "at-risk" students who may
be harder to serve, TEA officials said.
The agency has begun increasing the number of visits to charter schools
and will continue helping failing ones, Alanis said.
Stockton boy's body is found in trunk of car
By JENNIFER GALVAN
PECOS, Friday, August 2, 2002 -- The body of a 4-year old Fort Stockton boy
missing since Monday was found this morning in the trunk of a car on
the family's property.
Schyler Lee Fain was found in the trunk of a vehicle located outside his
great-grandparent's home on the north side of Fort Stockton, Pecos County
Sheriff's Department Records Clerk Betsy Spencer said about 11:15 a.m. today.
No further information could be provided on who discovered the body and
whether or not the area near the vehicle had been previously searched, but
according to Spencer more information would be provided later today.
"A public announcement will be made when more information is available,"
Searchers were continuing to look for Fain as late as 10 a.m. this morning,
and at the time Spencer said no progress had been made.
"They are out there again today," Spencer said. "There is nothing new."
According to Spencer, search dogs came in from Dallas Thursday and were
assisting in today's search.
Fain was last seen at 11 a.m., Monday, in the back yard of his great-grandparents
home located in a rural area of Fort Stockton.
After parents and family members searched for the 4-year old boy for two
hours, the young boy was then listed as missing.
Pecos County Sheriff Cliff Harris said on Wednesday that Fain had a habit
of wandering off in the family's yard, since it was on the outskirts of Fort
Stockton and there was plenty of room.
"We don't suspect foul play at this time," Harris said.
Harris confirmed the discovery of the boy's body in the trunk of the vehicle
early this afternoon, but had no further comments.
On Wednesday, Spencer said authorities followed a lead from an employee
with FedEx who reported seeing Fain at about 11:39 a.m., Monday.
"They searched that area and it was an area that she had pointed out a
little ways further than where the initial search began," Spencer said. "They
searched a little larger area and all the way to Farm Road 1053."
Rains cause flooding north, east of Pecos
By ROSIE FLORES
PECOS, Friday, August 2, 2002 -- Area ranchers and farmers received good
news in the form of rain, which fell heavily in some parts of Reeves
County last night.
The Texas Experiment Station recorded .42 inches of rain overnight, as
showers moved into the Pecos area early this morning after hitting areas
to the east Thursday night.
A flash flood warning for northern Reeves County expired at 10:45 a.m.,
but continued for areas to the north, in Lea and Eddy counties in New Mexico.
"We had flash flood warning for that area, on Farm to Market Road 652
near Orla and all the way to Farm to Market Road 2119 in western Reeves County,"
said hydro-meteorologist technician Michael Young, with the National Weather
Service office in Midland
"We haven't that many reports from out there yet, though," said Young.
"Most of the heavy stuff has been up north," he said.
Continuing flash flood warnings are in effect for Carlsbad, where it continues
to rain, according to Young. "Eddy and Lea Counties still have flash flood
warnings," he said. Carlsbad suffered from flash flooding caused by heavy
rains last month, which forced low-lying roads to be closed.
Although there were thunderstorms both to the north and south of Pecos
at sunrise today, Balmorhea State Park said that they didn't receive any
of the much-needed rain. "We were hoping we would receive some this time,
but it didn't rain at all," said state park employee Tony Fleenor.
Thunderstorms that built up east of Pecos Thursday evening caused problems
in Midland last night, following some streets and knocking out electricity
to parts of the city.
E.G. Davis, community relations officer for the Midland Police Department,
said no injuries had been reported by late Thursday night.
Davis said lightning strikes caused at least one fire in a building
at an apartment complex.
Davis said trees were knocked down and transformers exploded, causing
"It looks like we're over the worst part of it," he said.
Davis said about an inch of rain fell in a span of 30 to 40 minutes,
causing waters to rise along streets he called "major runoff streets"
and stranding motorists.
"Whenever it rains those streets become highly flooded," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
PECOS, Friday, August 2, 2002 -- High Thursday 99. Low this morning 72.
Rainfall last 24 hours at Texas A&M Experiment Station .42 inch.
Forecast for tonight: Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Lows
near 70. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Saturday: Partly cloudy. Highs
in the upper 90s. Southeast winds 5 to 15 mph. Saturday night: Partly
cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Lows in the lower 70s. Sunday:
Partly cloudy with isolated thunderstorms. Highs in the upper 90s.
Monday: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of thunderstorms. Lows 70
to 75. Highs 95 to 100.
Texas Tech WIC office to mark World Breastfeeding Day locally
Texas Tech University Health Science Ccenter's Women, Infants and Children
Program in Pecos will celebrate World Breastfeeding Day, on Tuesday with
a reception for past and current breastfeeding mothers.
Refreshments, door prizes, along with information on nutrition, parenting
and breastfeeding are all part of the agenda for the program scheduled from
2-4 p.m., at the local WIC office located at 700 Daggett Street.
The celebration marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Month 2002,
an annual campaign to increase public awareness of the importance of breast-feeding.
The campaign is sponsored by the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action
(WABA) in conjunction with the World Health Organization, UNICEF, La Leche
League International and the Texas Department of Health.
"Healthy Mothers for Healthy Babies" is the theme of this year's campaign,
which will focus on the health breastfeeding provides the mother. While providing
excellent health benefits to the baby, breastfeeding helps the new mother
heal after giving birth, reduces her risk for hemorrhaging, and helps use
calories to lose weight. Breastfeeding mothers are at lower risk for ovarian
cancer and osteoporosis and may also be a lower risk for breast cancer. The
goal of the Texas Department of Health is to have 75 percent of all Texas
infants breastfeeding at hospital discharge and 50 percent still breastfeeding
when they are six months old.
Current Texas breastfeeding rates are 67 percent at hospital discharge
and only 28 percent at six months.
The Texas Position Statement on Infant Feeding, a collaborative effort
of Texas health-related organizations, consumers and professionals strongly
supports breastfeeding as the optimal way to feed infants. The Texas Department
of Health and more than 32 other health organizations and insurance companies
have endorsed this position statement. The American Academy of Pediatrics
recommends exclusive breastfeeding the first six months of life and continuation
of breastfeeding for the first year of a baby's life or longer.
Doctor Eduardo Sanchez, Commissioner of Health, says, "August 1, marks
the 12th Anniversary of signing of the Innocenti Declaration on
the Protection, Promotion and Support of Breastfeeding, which recognizes
the importance of breastfeeding to infant and maternal health as well as
the social, economic and ecological benefits it provides to the family and
WIC clinics across the state have been provided with promotional materials.
These materials will be displayed and distributed at local WIC clinic to
honor breastfeeding clients and educate pregnant women about breastfeeding.
Armando Garcia and Walter Shaw
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
Associated Press text, photo, graphic, audio and/or video material shall not be published, broadcast, rewritten for broadcast or publication or redistributed directly or indirectly in any medium.
Copyright 2002 by Pecos Enterprise