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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - August 18, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas Herat Water Restrictions ■ New Braunfels Utilities customers cannot water today. Well users with addresses ending in 8 or 9 can water today after 8 p.m. i; vs v ! \ l.'l ITUNG ■ Vol. 149 No. 202    18    pages    in    2    sections    August    18,    2000 Friday Serving Comal County since 1852 50 cents WORD votes no to secure extra water By Jennifer Rodriguez Herald-Zeitung Correspondent Comal County Water Oriented Recreation District opted not to pay for increased flow on the Guadalupe River for the Labor Day weekend. WORD board members considered a first-of-its-kind plan to pay the Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority about $22,000 for extra releases from Canyon Lake. The water buy was aimed at improving recreational flows. The drought has drowned parks, lakes and rivers and related businesses with problems, including low flow levels and visitor numbers. “San Antonio is pumping water into the (San Antonio) river to protect tourism while we choke ourselves,” WORD board member Zero Rivers said. Now, businesses and visitors will deal with the current sputtering river flow. Also Wednesday, WORD discussed a plan to tax people who use their own tubes and rafts on the river. The tax or fee would be applied to those who use private equipment on the river and enter at public access points. WORD manager George D. Cushanick said people could enter the river at four to six access points near bridges. “(WORD board members) want to study how we could go into it using an annual pass, not unlike a fishing license,” Cushanick said. Taxes supplement river policing and cleanup, and bring in between $200,000 and $300,000 annually. About 250,000 people float the river each year. Businesses that rely on water traffic already pay a fee for equipment, such as boats and hotel rooms. People who rent tubes or other floating equipment pay a $1 tax on inner tubes. Outfitters say making their customers shoulder the brunt of river maintenance and cleanup costs is unfair. “We’re trying to level the playing field so all participants pay their share,” Rivers said. Board members question how a tax on private tubes would be managed and enforced. Board member Charles Stephens said “I feel like this is an exercise in futility. I want more information, so if we decide to do this, we can (explain it). Police seeking baby’s parents By Heather Todd Staff Writer New Braunfels Police Department officials are continuing to search for the parents of a baby that was abandoned outside McKenna Memorial Hospital a week ago and are urging anyone with information to come forward. The Hispanic baby girl, named “McKenna Hope” by hospital staff, was found by a hospital team member between 7:30 and 8 p.m. Friday behind a concrete bench outside the employee entrance on Union Street. Tim Brierty, McKenna Health System president and CEO, said the baby was discharged from the hospital Tuesdiy and is currently in the care of foster parents. Steven deLemos, Comal County assistant district attorney, said Child Protective Services received temporary custody of the baby earlier this week. Detective Sean Gabbard w'ith the New Braunfels Police Department said the parents have not been identified but information provided by the public and from Crimestop-pers phone calls has given some leads in the investigation. “A lot of the information is the same and has correlated about particular individuals. Hopefully, sometime in the next few days we can get some identification on the personSee HOPE/5A CISD commits $60M budget By Heather Todd Staff Writer Comal Independent School District trustees took only 11 minutes approve a $60 million budget for the 2000-2001 school year Thursday. No one attending Thursday’s tax rate hearing addressed the board about the proposed $ 1.85 per $ I OO valuation tax rate. Trustees approved the tax rate in a 6-1 vote with trustee Nick Nichols casting the dissenting vote. The 2000-2001 tax rate is lower than the 1999-2000 tax rate of $1.88 per $100 valuation. Trustees also voted 5-2 to approve the budget, which is $2.2 million more than the 1999-2000 budget. Trustee John Bertelsen joined Nichols in voting against the budget. Bertelsen said he was concerned the district was spending too much compared to projected enrollment figures. “Last year, the board approved a $57.8 million budget for a projected 10,900 students, and we only had about 10,300 students. Yet we spent the full $57.8 million,” he said. “This year, we’re forecasting 10,700 students and we have a $60 million budget, which is $2.2 million more than last year for 200 fewer students.” Nichols said he was concerned about inequitable allocation ol funding to campuses. “My concern is that we are spending more money on some campuses and possibly some campuses aren’t getting enough,” he said Nichols also said he voted against the tax rate because he didSee BUDGET/5A ■Inside Abby................................8A Classifieds.......................3-8B Comics..............................9A Crossword........................8A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies  ..................8A Obituaries...........................3A Sports............................1-2B Today.................................2 A Stocks.....................................5A Key Code 76 Water break K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung NBU’s Eusebio Perez, Chris Kusak, Gus Lara and Flomtino Sosa (left to right) work to fix a water-main that ruptured early Thursday afternoon. African-American, white and economically disadvantaged. However, TEA also rated an increased number of schools as low' performing. Nelson said, “We are not surprised that the number of low-performing campuses rose from 96 to 157 in 2000 because it got harder to achieveSee SCHOOLS/5AReport Card Texas public schools are rated on three factors — dropout rates, attendance rates and student passing rates on the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills. A school or district must have the same TAAS pass and dropout rates for each of four student groups — Hispanic, African-American, white and economically disadvantaged What the ratings mean: Exemplary —90 percent or more of the total students and student groups pass all sections of the TAAS, dropout rate of 1 percent or less for all students and each student group and an attendance rate of 94 percent or better. Recognized — 80 percent or more of the total students and student groups passing all sections of the TAAS, dropout rate of 3.5 percent or less for all students and each student group and an attendance rate of 94 percent or better. Acceptable —50 percent of all students and student groups pass all sections of the TAAS, a dropout rate of 6 percent of less for all students and each student group and an attendance rate of 94 percent or better. Low performing (campus) academically unacceptable (districts) — At least one student group or the total students in a district or campus had a TAAS passing rate of less than 50 percent, a dropout rate of more than 6 percent or an attendance rate below 94 percent.School gradesTEA releases school performance ratings; rates local districts By Heather Todd Staff Writer The Texas Education Agency rate Comal and New Braunfels school districts as “recognized,” according to ratings released Thursday. TEA released the annual Academic Excellent Indicator System on Thursday. For the first time, Comal Elementary in Comal school district earned the highest rating of “exemplary.” Both school districts jumped from academically acceptable ratings this past year, the third highest rating, to recognized status this year. TEA rates public schools and districts as exemplary, recognized, acceptable or low-performing. Ratings are based on Texas Assessment of Academic Skills test scores, attendance rates and dropout rates. TAAS tests measure student’s knowledge of math, reading and writing. Beginning this school year, attendance will not be used in ratings calculations. TEA Commissioner Jim Nelson said a record number of Texas public schools and districts received the state’s highest academic ratings this year. TEA classified 1,291 schools and 167 school districts as “exemplary” and 2,003 schools and 435 districts as “recognized.” To get a recognized rating, a school district or campus must have: • a TAAS passing rate of 80 percent or more; • a dropout rate of 3.5 percent or less for all students and each student group; and • an attendance rate of at least 94 percent or better. Several schools in both local districts received the recognized rating. This year, an acceptable rating required 50 percent of all students and in each student group to pass the TAAS test. This past year, the state required a passing rate of 45 percent. Student groups are classified as Hispanic, K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Above: Comal Elementary students in Mrs. Cleckler’s third-grade class learn the table of contents in their new school books. Third and fourth-grade classes at Comal Elementary earned exemplary ratings from the state, the highest rating given. Below: Tyler Figol (left) and Cameron Pawelek (right) read along with the rest of their third-grade class. ;