Robotics, construction, sports and construction delays round out the top stories of the Mission Consolidated Independent School District in 2016.
#10 Robotics used to spread interest in Science and Technology
In November about a thousand MCISD students werebussed to Palm Valley Church’s main auditorium to be inspired to study science, technology, engineering and math. The featured speaker was Phoenix area high school teacher Faridodin “Fredi” Lajvardi. In 2004 Lajvardi took four students from Carl Hayden Community High School to compete in an underwater robotics competition and defeated teams from three other high schools, four community colleges, two public universities, and the Massachusetts’s Institute of Technology. Actor George Lopez in the film, “Spare Parts”, portrayed Lajvardi. His visit to Mission was sponsored by the school district with the intent of inspiring students to take interest in science and technology courses which district superintendent Dr. Ricardo Lopez and school board members view as the wave of the future.
#9 Veterans Memorial High School Patriots Football Team has historic season
In December members of the VMHS Patriots Football team were honored both at a MCISD school board meeting and by Mission’s City Council after making it to the third round of the Texas University Interscholastic Association 31-5A District playoffs. The team made it to the playoffs after beating the Flour Bluff Hornets 28-14 in the Area Championship game at Tom Landry Stadium Nov. 18 with a packed home crowd on hand. The fact that the Patriots met their match Nov. 26 when they went up against the Dripping Springs Tigers in San Antonio’s Alamo Stadium and lost 35-69, did nothing to diminish Head Coach David Gilpin’s pride over what his team accomplished last season having been only one of four area teams to make it to the state playoffs.
#8 MCISD increases security on campuses, hires 15 guards
In August MCISD’s board of trustees voted to hire 15 unarmed security guards to be stationed at each of the 14 elementary campuses and at the Roosevelt Alternative School.
The board also approved an interlocal agreement with the Precinct 3 constable’s office, which states that one constable will travel between each of the six elementary schools outside the Mission city limits and provide support where it’s needed. The school district already had 20 security guards that were employed with the district.
Eleven peace officers were also previously contracted to cover in their jurisdictions – seven from Mission PD, two from Alton PD and one with Palmhurst PD. With the addition of the 15 officers, one roving constable and one roving corporal, a total of 47 security guards and officers are now employed with the district.
#7 MHS Phase III construction projects bring eight-year project closer to completion
Crews broke ground on Phase III of major construction and renovation projects at Mission High School that were originally approved in 2008. In April the district’s board of trustees awarded Econ Group Construction of Edinburg the contract for phase three, which is the final part of the project. Construction began over the summer after classes let out June 1. Econ was not to exceed $33.2 million, based on the scope of work.
The projects impacted nearly every aspect of the school’s campus. A pair of bonds passed in 2006 and 2008 totaling $116 million funded the three phases of projects.
#6 New fiscal year implemented for district budget
In July the board of trustees approved a fiscal budget of $162,838,737 for the 2016-2017 fiscal year, which will run from July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017. It was the first budget approved under the newly established fiscal school year. Previously the fiscal year ran October 1 through September 30. District Spokesman Craig Verely said the change was made so district employees could start ordering supplies at the beginning of the year instead of waiting until the new budget opened almost two months into the school year. The budget is just less than the City of Mission whose council approved a $166 million budget in September.
#5 Superintendent Lopez’s popularity increases
In March the board of trustees approved a two-year contract extension for Superintendent Lopez whose original contract was set to expire in August. At the time the board didn’t specify if any changes were made to his salary. However in November an auditor’s report showed the amended contract increased Lopez’s annual salary from $185,000 to $210,000.00. It also requires the district to provide $10,000 annually into the superintendent’s state retirement account. It also allocates a monthly cost of living allowance of $1,333.33. The district also provides Lopez a $1 million life insurance policy. In April the Association of Latino Administrators and Superintendents announced it had named López their Latino Superintendent of the Year for 2016. In accepting the award Lopez credited all of the students and MCISD staff for aiding in his success.
#4 Plans for new district admin building hits a snag
In April the board of trustees were full steam ahead on plans to build a new two-story, $9.5 million administration building that would have increased office space to accommodate the number of people who work at the district’s Bryce Drive central office. However throughout the year cost estimates continually rose when in October board members were told construction could run as high as $12 million which exceeded available funds for the project. Board members were informed the unavailability of competing contractors tied up in other major projects in the RGV was a contributing factor. The board accepted Superintendent Lopez’s suggestion to shelve the project until more contractors became available to offer more competitive bids. In the meantime district administrative employees will remain in the current building constructed as a hospital in 1953 hoping the air conditioning system and roof will survive another year.
#3 Sonia Trevino returns to school board with two incumbents
In May Mission voters returned Dr. Sonia Treviño to her seat on the board of trustees after a two-year absence. Treviño was on the board for seven years before she stepped down in September 2014 because her sister applied for an administrative position with the school district. Treviño was replaced by Veronica Mendoza who made an unsuccessful run for the Place 2 seat on the board she held since Treviño stepped down. Treviño took 53.3 percent of the 4,287 ballots cast. Voters also returned incumbents Jerry Zamora and board president Patricia (Patty) O’Caña-Olivarez to office.
#2 Trustees approve several improvement projects throughout district
In September the board of trustees approved a $310,000 upgrade to the Veterans Memorial High School tennis court. The budgeted items included competition level lighting, which will cost between $150,000 to $190,000; canopy construction, at $60,000; and $82,500 in planning and development costs.
A month prior the board and City of Mission agreed to terminate a 50-year sharing agreement on the North side Swimming Pool located at Mission High School. The board agreed to early renovation and refurbishing designs showing the total cost for modifications came out to about $1.3 million. But because city officials decided to contribute $405,000 to the project the district’s projected cost was reduced by an equal amount.
And in November the board voted to go ahead with plans for a $9 million renovation project on Mission High School’s Tom Landry football stadium. The renovation is needed to bring the stadium into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Plans include about 700 seats centered on the 50-yard line area of the home field seating that will include 24 inch-wide seats with backs and arm rests.
#1 This is what its all about after all
In May students in MCISD’s three high schools celebrated their graduations. According to the Texas Education Agency in the class of 2016 there were a combined total of 904 seniors in the school district’s three high schools, Mission, Veterans Memorial and Collegiate. Though 2016 statistics were not available TEA reports show in 2015 87.9 percent of MCISD seniors graduated from high school with 0.5 percent receiving GED’s. In 2015 5.9 percent of the students who would have been seniors had dropped out of school, per TEA statistics. Another 5.7 percent though seniors, were not eligible to graduate but indicated they planned to continue their high school careers.