The Bryan City Schools Board of Education voted Monday evening to take back the former Lincoln Elementary School property it deeded to the City of Bryan in October 2017 — but only for a little while.

The property, at 301 E. Butler St., was demolished in January and February 2017 and deeded to the city in October 2017.

District Treasurer Kevin Schafer explained he found an error in the contract and the only way to fix it was to reclaim the property and then return it.

“It’s a matter of cleaning up the paperwork,” he said. “We found a key restriction had been left out. Basically, the contract should say that the city will dedicate the property for public use and if it doesn’t, the property will come back to the school.”

Once fixed, the board will return the property to the city with no other changes to the original agreement.

In other business, Assistant Superintendent Chad Bassett reported the cafeteria started supporting St. Patrick Catholic School within its state-funded Seamless Summer lunch program.

“So far this year, we’ve served 25,000 lunches and 5,000 breakfasts,” he said. “We’re seeing more students take advantage of that and it’s great news.”

Director of Teaching and Learning Karyn Cox reported good news against the “COVID slide” as well. Rather than finding lost comprehension skills from last year’s chaotic schedule, she has seen overall improvement among the youngest elementary school students.

Fall testing to measure language fluency indicated more students in the first, second and third grades were able to read and comprehend faster than expected.

“The number of first grade students who could read 13 words per minute increased by 27%,” she said. “The number of second grade students who could read 62 words per minute increased by 18.8% and the number of third grade students who could read 87 words per minute increased by 12.1%.”

She said students will be tested again in January and May to track their progress.

Schafer, in his five-year forecast, predicted “net positive values through the 2021-22 school year with very slight trim over the next five years.”

The biggest factors were passage of the school’s 6.9-mill substitute levy (confirmed by the Williams County Board of Elections on Monday, prior to the meeting), rising property values throughout the area and an expected 1.5-1.9% increase in income tax revenue as the economy continues to recover from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Superintendent Mark Rairigh offered a resolution to expand the school’s substitute teacher list to include college students enrolled in education degree programs.

“The governor suspended a requirement for substitute teachers to have a four-year degree so our student-teachers can fill that role,” he said. “Their supervisors will still be around, but they will be running their own classrooms this year. It’s a great benefit to our substitute teacher shortage.”

Board President Scott Benedict also endorsed the plan before it went to a vote, and it passed unanimously.

Rairigh also initiated a first reading for new religious education policy which would allow students to take an excused absence for off-campus, non-school-related religious activities.

The next board meeting will be 7 p.m. Dec. 13.

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