Gonzales ISD sells tax notes to fund HVAC replacement plan


GONZALES — Gonzales ISD board of trustees met Monday, April 8 to review a short list of action items including the sale of notes to fund plans on replacing heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) units.

According to GISD superintendent Dr. Kim Strozier, there are 189 HVAC units that use the refrigerant R22. By Jan. 1, 2020, R22 will no longer be available for purchase, meaning those units would have to be replaced to comply with new legislation.

“We have a plan to complete replacements with a Phase 1 beginning soon starting with 89 units at North Avenue, East Avenue and Gonzales High School,” Strozier said last month. “Phase 1 comes at a cost of $1.5 million. Financing options were presented, and action was taken to approve a contract with Trane (contingent on legal review) to complete the job.”

On Monday, the board approved the sale of GISD Maintenance Tax Notes for “over $2 million in total,” Strozier told the Inquirer.

“These notes will fund Phase 1 of our HVAC replacement project as well as roof restoration at our junior high and high school campuses,” Strozier added. “Phase 1 of our HVAC project is approximately $1.4 million. The remaining $600,000 will be used for roof restoration. Any monies unused on these projects will be used for Phase 2 of the HVAC project which is slated to be completed during Summer 2020.”

The R22 refrigerant wasn’t the only reason why the district needed to replace the HVAC units. Most of the units are over 30 years old and are inefficient.

“The total HVAC project supports the replacement of 189 HVAC units, most of which are over 30 years in age,” Strozier said. “Replacement of the HVAC units puts the district in compliance with recent legislation in the use of allowable refrigerants and is a requirement to maintain adherence to law. Newer models will have an additional positive effect by producing more efficient use of electricity for the district.”

Phase 1 is scheduled to be complete by Aug. 1 with Phase 2 taking place during the months of June and July in 2020. In the interim, the district will store R22 to support the second phase units until they can be replaced.

Before any action items were discussed, former Gonzales ISD employee Darwina Gayton spoke during public comments. Gayton used her time to address the board, imploring trustees to talk to teachers and community members on how the district can improve.

“Ask your teachers how they think students will do on the these tests this week,” Gayton said. “Don’t ask the person whose job depends on these scores. They’re going to tell you what you want to hear.”

Gayton provided a list of concerns to both the board and the Inquirer. Her full statement is listed below, at the end of this story.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved minutes of the board meetings called on March 4, 14, 19 and 25.
  • Approved the IMA & TEKS Certification for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Approved the distribution of free dental health kits gifted by the Gonzales Masonic Lodge to first-grade students.
  • Approved the depository contract extension for two additional years with Sage Capital Bank. Trustees Glenn Menking and Ross Hendershot III both abstained from voting due to their employment with financial institutions, while the other five board members voted unanimously to approve the contract.


Gayton public comments statement:

The Every Student Succeeds Act of December 2015 requires each state to intervene if a school is in the lowest performing 5 percent.

  1. With our rating — if 100 students were lined up, we would be #1, the lowest in the line.
  2. Three campuses earned ratings of 56 or 59 percent. How can you tell them that you know that they tried their best: False praise — trophy generation.
  3. Ask teachers how they think students will do on spring test. Do not ask the person whose job depends on those scores. They will tell you what you want to hear.
  4. Aides are pitifully paid — after insurance, some take home less than $400/month, for insurance with a $5,000 deductible.
  5. Bus drivers carry and deliver our precious children safely, through weather and road conditions, oil trucks playing chicken, other drivers passing a bus on the right. These everyday heroes have not had a raise in at least nine years.
  6. There is little Apache pride in the secondary schools. Many students consider only themselves, not their school. Schools and grounds are trashed. Football players quit before playoffs. Good players demean other players, so won’t even join the team, students do poorly at UIL believing that they can replace a disliked teacher.
  7. Behavior must be addressed. Behavior by students, parents and — occasionally — teachers. There must be a chain of command that is followed. Very few students can learn with constant interruption. And if there are no consequences, some will begin to wonder, why behave? The FOCUS program was the last behavior program to work. Until behavior improves, scores cannot.
  8. Money is spent on unneeded resources. Consult teachers. Ask what they need. Smaller class sizes, more electives, more aides, counselors to listen to kids — not to only be a test coordinator. The dynamic of a classroom is not told by a list of names on paper. Talk to teachers. Respect their knowledge and professionalism.

I have not been contact at all to discuss any of these concerns. Why do you ask others how I know certain information, instead of asking me directly? Do you care about kids or are you only bothered by someone publicly asking questions?

I have been in the district for 15-16 years. I have a fairly good memory, and I’m fairly intelligent. I talk to people; students talk to me. I research, and I crunch data. Some problems are clearly visible. So ask.

Ask me. Ask teachers. Ask various community members. If you aren’t willing to do that, we need a new school board. At the least, we need term limits. The board should serve the schools, not “own” them.

I recently learned the word responsibility can be broken into two parts: response and ability. Do you have the ability to make the changes needed for GISD to prosper? If so, what will be your response to the situation?

As a post script: I recently was made aware by a community member that the current superintendent salary is not $190,000 but $199,000. If not true, and people are saying so, then you have a public perception problem. If true, and if given after the earned “F” rating; how could an increase be offered and how could it be accepted? Especially in light of other district salaries? Shame on you. Shame on you for so many decisions.