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The Lead Nov. 16, 2021: Some big changes coming for KISD sixth-graders

The Heart of the Hills Heritage Center meets a goal.


We've got another terrific show set up today with Kenneth O'Neal, a man of arts and letters and Zig Ziglar. We expect a broad conversation starting at 9 a.m. on The Lead Live. Speaking of shows, here's how the rest of our week looks:

  • Wednesday — We chat with Kerr County podcaster Tom Fox and First United Methodist Pastor David Payne.
  • Thursday — We're hosting our first-ever Ina Garten-inspired cooking show from Delayne Sigerman's home.
  • Friday — The Kerrville Farmer's Market Kayte Graham talks about craft agriculture and the weekly market.


The Texas Furniture Makers Show

Kerr Arts and Cultural Center

10 a.m.-4 p.m.

It's not the biggest show in the 22-year history of the event, but there's still plenty of cool things to see at KACC, including an epic workbench.

Coffee with a cop

Schreiner University Commons

10 a.m. to noon

Have a cup of coffee (always a good call) and have a chat with a member of the Kerrville Police Department (also a good call).


We know that the Christmas Parade is headed our way on Saturday night — 6 p.m. to be exact. However, we got a note about another event you need to see — this one on Sunday.

Schreiner University's music department will host a concert at First Presbyterian Church in Kerrville, 800 Jefferson St. The concert starts at 3 p.m. Admission is free.


The Kerrville City Council will meet at 10 a.m. today to discuss a public safety communications project. The meeting is at City Hall.


We have a race for governor

Beto O'Rourke formally announced his candidacy for Texas governor in an uphill battle against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott, bidding for a third term. Folks, this is going to be expensive. Abbott is sitting on a $60 million campaign fund, while O'Rourke is an expert fundraiser. The latest polls suggest Abbott would win by nine percentage points.

See @BetoORourke's post on Twitter.

The reaction, of course, was partisan

See @NRA's post on Twitter.

More spending approved by Biden

President Joe Biden signed the $1 trillion infrastructure bill on Tuesday. Economists are evaluating the impact, but here are a few ways the Hill Country could feel it:

  • There's a plan to expand U.S. Highway 83 southward from Eden, Texas, to Interstate 10 at Junction.
  • Counties and cities would be eligible for grants to improve cybersecurity.
  • There will be a heavy push toward the electrification of vehicles, including charging stations and battery research.
  • How this will play out in Texas will be interesting. Still, there will be an extensive push to study alternative energy platforms, including micro and modular nuclear power plants and hydrogen.

U.S. Rep. Chip Roy, who represents Kerr County, voted against the plan.

See @chiproytx's post on Twitter.


KISD Trustees Jack Stevens, far left, Michael Tackett and Curtis Finley vote to approve a resolution backing a move of sixth-grade students to Hal Peterson Middle School.

The Kerrville Independent School District board of trustees had a full meeting, but there big decision was approving a resolution supporting the move of sixth-grade students from B.T. Wilson School to the new Hal Peterson Middle School.

"We did design the (Peterson building) in such a way that we have the flexibility to add the sixth grade," KISD Superintendent Mark Foust said. "We waited until construction and then we waited to have this discussion."

Initially, there were many who wanted to see the sixth-graders relocated to Hal Peterson immediately, but Foust wanted to wait until the bond election that paid for the new school passed.

KISD's current arrangement — having a standalone sixth-grade campus — is rare in Texas. Foust said there are just 28 schools in the state that serve as standalone sixth-grade campuses. Many are either fifth-sixth combination schools but the majority feature the sixth-seventh-eighth alignment.

Earlier in the meeting, one speaker raised concerns about Peterson's capacity — set for 1,200. However, Foust said the district planned for the eventuality of accommodating a larger student body. Adding the sixth-graders would boost Peterson's enrollment to 1,100. If needed, the district also has ability to expand the campus.

But what about the staff?

Foust made is clear that no one would lose their jobs in the move. District officials see plenty of academic advantages to having the sixth-graders under one roof at Peterson, including what they described as better vertical integration between teaching staffs. In lay terms, that means a broader teaching staff would provide greater enrichment across the grade levels.

The traffic, what about the traffic?

When the middle school opened on Loop 534, the intensity of the traffic caught many off guard, but Foust said he hopes there can be improvements to the traffic patterns. Part of that plan is better directing parents dropping off students at the campus.

But isn't that mix of older and younger students dangerous?

Foust said that was one of the big concerns district staff heard through a series of public meetings, and surveys. However, the district plans to alleviate those concerns by essentially creating a sixth-grade wing, or a school within a school. Interaction with older students would be limited, including at lunch.

Finally, what about the B.T. Wilson name?

B.T. Wilson was a legendary teacher and fixture at the Doyle School. Foust said under no circumstance would the B.T. Wilson be removed from the current Tivy Street location, but school could be transformed into other uses once the sixth-graders leave.

Want a deeper dive? Read our story here:

What else did the trustees discuss?

  • Assistant Superintendent Wade Ivy presented how the district fared in its safety plan evaluations, including several commendations issued by a consultant, who reviewed the district's work. Ivy also included a report about some of the resources available to students including a legislature-funded mental health telemedicine hotline.
  • Lynn Paulo, the district's senior director of special education, presented a report about KISD's ongoing efforts to improve its special education offerings. SInce 2016, KISD's special education enrollment has grown from 381 students to more than 600 — slightly more than 12% of the population. Paulo outlined numerous services from speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy and those who work with deaf and blind children. The expansive efforts include multiple disciplines and modes of care and education.
  • Trustees also heard about the district championship efforts of its seventh-grade girls' volleyball team and the eighth-grade football team. The football team is 18-0 over the last two seasons.

The seventh-grade volleyball team is congratulated by KISD trustees and staff.

Members of the football team are honored.


The Heart of the Hills Heritage Center, planned for the former A.C. Schreiner House along Water Street, moved one step closer to reality when its board of directors announced it had raised $1 million to match other donations and contributions from the city of Kerrville.

In total, the project raised $5 million — a requirement by the city to move forward. The board of directors raised money from six foundations: Hal and Charlie Peterson Foundation, the Perry and Ruby Stevens Charitable Foundation, the Friends of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, the Cailloux Foundation, the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country, and the Meadows Foundation of Dallas.

During last week's Kerrville City Council meeting, the board's vice chairman, James Wright, announced the goals were met, and the Heart of the Hills Heritage Center was ready to move forward. The city of Kerrville contributed about $3 million for the project, while H-E-B and H.E. Butt Family Foundation each donated $500,000.

The center has been a long-held dream for many in the community as a way to tell the story of Kerr County's founding and growth.

"While there are still many hurdles to clear – and much more fundraising to do – the idea for a local history museum is one step closer to reality," said Kerr County historian Joe Herring Jr., also a former Kerrville mayor.

Part of the work will be a stronger connection to the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library campus and the Guadalupe River Trail. Kerrville architect Scott Schellhase, whose parents were the last occupants of the home, is doing the design work.

The work found champions in Herring, who sits on the center's board, and others, including Bill Rector, who chaired the board's efforts. Others on the board are Linda Karst Stone, T. David Jones, Toni Box, Clifton Fifer, Donald S. Frazier, Charlie McIlvain and Julius Neunhoffer.


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