Board members

Argyle ISD board members during their regular meeting on Nov. 16, 2020. 

Argyle ISD school board members Monday approved roughly $1.2 million to fund an independent special education department.

The unanimous vote represented the next step in the school district’s move away from the Denton County Special Education Cooperative, which serves smaller districts across the county.

Money would likely pay for 17 employees to run the department, though Argyle ISD Superintendent Telena Wright was clear an additional speech therapist might be needed.

Board members granted her the authority to hire that additional staffer if needed.

They first discussed the possibility of leaving the co-op in April and signaled they’d officially leave in October.

Krum ISD officials have also discussed leaving the co-op but hadn’t taken the same steps Argyle ISD had by Monday night.

Wright said she would like to have a director for the new program in place by the first of February, but other staffers wouldn’t be needed until closer to the start of the 2021-22 school year.

Wright, when she first pitched the move in April, estimated creating its own special education department would cost the district about $1.3 million.

The district Monday was on track to edge in just below that figure, even with the additional potential staffer taken aboard.

Chief Financial Officer Liz Stewart, when asked by board members Monday, estimated the district would save $200,000 in the 2021-22 school year by creating its own department instead of working with the co-op.

“We would no longer pay the cooperative, and we would also take in-house our federal grants that currently run through the cooperative,” she said.

The amount saved would be closer to $130,000 if the additional speech therapist is needed.

In other action

Also during Monday’s meeting:

  • School board members accepted a $50,000 donation from Rapid Med Urgent Care and later approved the bulk of that money to purchase and install a new scoreboard at Argyle ISD’s stadium.
  • All board members up for reelection retained their seats, and new board officers were selected at the top of Monday’s meeting.
  • Members approved the allocation of $211,766 from bond funds to purchase two new school buses. They will add to the district’s current fleet of 29 full-size buses and are expected to arrive well ahead of the coming school year.
  • Board members unanimously approved campus improvement plans for each district campus.

MARSHALL REID can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @MarshallKReid.

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