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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - February 22, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels SATURDAY February 22, 2003 14 pages in 2 sections anMM    MMM    14    pages    in    2    sectKHerald-Zeitung J t'V-•• • $* MKmmmmmwmww Vol. 152, No. 87 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents More money might boost buyouts By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Precinct I Commissioner Jack Dawson has revealed that Comal County officials might have found federal money for additional buyouts of flooded homes. The county is now in the process of buying out 26 residences — most in the area of Horseshoe Falls Estates — flooded this past July. The buyouts are part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program. The purpose of the HMGP is to reduce future flood losses by lowering or mitigating flood exposure through buying out properties in floodways. Under the program, local officials can buy out properties that were heavily dam- CISD trustee Gonzales seeking re-election to DI By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer Dora L. Gonzales, the secretary of the Comal Independent School District Board of Trustees, is seeking re-election to the District I post. “I’m really excited about running,” Gonzales said. “This is going to be my third term.” If re-elected, Gonzales, a case manager at McKenna Memorial Hospital, listed completion of the Canyon Lake High School in an efficient and cost-effective manner as her top goal. “I’m excited about seeing Canyon High School come to fruition,” she said. GONZALES aged in a flood and receive reimbursement for 75 percent of the negotiated purchase price. The 26 properties Dawson is negotiating contracts for will cost around $4 million. Comal County will pay $1 million of that cost, Dawson told the League of Women Voters-Comal Area at a meeting conducted Thursday night in Smithson Valley. Another of her goals is creating more opportunities for noncollege bound students. Gonzales joins Rose C e r v i n , board President Dan K. Krueger and Randy Pawelek in announcing election campaigns this week. This is Pawelek’s first school board election. Rather than holding a special election in February 2003, heSee CISD/3AInside Abby....................................5A Church Directory....................7A Classifieds...........................36B Comics................................8A Crossword......-..................5A Forum...............„................6A Local/State.........................4A Movies................................5A Sports..............................1-2B Key Code 76 56825 00001 The HMGP, administered by the state Division of Emergency Management, works in two tiers. The first tier, or “fast track,” is for homes that are located in the floodplain, “substantially” damaged (more than 50 percent of their value) and are primary residences. The second tier of buyouts See BUYOUTS/4A Canyon Lake businesswoman Diane Dasher asks questions of County Commissioner Jack Dawson at Thursday’s League of Women Voters meeting during an update on the July flood buyout program. K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Council to consider building skate park By Dylan Jimenez Staff Writer New Braunfels could build its first public skate park ready for local skaters by this summer. Parks and Recreation Department Director Iris Neffendorf will present to city council Monday night a plan to build a skate park in Ernest Eikel Field, a small neighborhood park. Neffendorf said the joint city and county venture is a $32,000 project to transform a volley-ball court that has not seen a lot of use into an 82-by-82 foot skate facility that she said would fill a void in city public recreation. The proposed course would be fenced and hold obstacles such as pyrimid8, ramps, banks and quarter pipes. The facility would be made up of moveable parts, which would make it unique and keep it fresh to the skating public. If the project is approved, the city could acquire the equipment by March or April. The city’s parks and recreation master plan identifies a skate park as a community need based on input from city officials, residents and government standards. Neffendorf said the push for a skate park is based on community and national trends in recreation. There is both a growing trend in people participating in the sport and in cities installing staking facilities, she said. “We felt we needed to provide those types of venues too,” Neffendorf said. Neffendorf said because of skating’s See SKATE/3A At a glance ■ WHAT: New Braunfels City Council meeting ■ WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Monday ■ WHERE: Council Chambers, The Municipal Building, 424 S. Casten Ave. Conference looks for ways to help seniors By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer Imagine being able to walk into a senior citizens center anywhere in the county and tell someone you need a job, transportation, information or prescriptions — and you get it quickly. Getting to that point was the whole purpose of Friday’s “Aging WeU In Comal County” conference, said Dr. Carlos Campos, who helped organize the daylong event conducted at the Westside Community Center. As the 80 participants were preparing to break out into groups to discuss providing jobs, transportation, information technology and prescriptions to the elderly, Campos recalled that a year ago, the Institution for Public Health and Education Research received a $15,OCK) planning grant to study the aging population bf Comal County. What they found was that by the end of this decade, the number of people over the age of 60 would increase 62 percent. “So we asked for a planning grant that would help us plan for this increase in aging population and we applied and we got it,” said Campos. The planning process started a year ago with focus groups in Bulverde, Spring Branch, Canyon Lake and New Braunfels. Campos asked each group to consider what .services it thought res idents would need access to to age well in Comal County by 2010. The information gleaned from Friday’s conference would be used to apply for a $3 million grant, Campos said. District I City Councilwoman Sonia Munoz-Gill said she felt excited about the future for the elderly. She expected good results and said the conference was an opportunity to hear from people who are in their senior years, are still very active and still want to shape the future. “And even though Tm not a senior yet,” Munoz-Gill said, “it’s good to start planning and shaping the future for See SENIORS/4A Practice makes perfect? The take on TAKS Beginning Feb. 25, students throughout Texas will take a new test — the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). In a three-part series, the Herald-Zeitung takes a look at this new educational initiative. ■ FRIDAY: Where will the money come from? ■ TODAY: Preparing for the test ■ SUNDAY: What parents, students think of the test. Districts pretest students to gauge TAKS performance By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer Teachers and administrators in the city and county school districts have been periodically testing their students this school year to gauge how well they are prepared for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and SkiUs Test (TAKS). Statewide, TAKS testing for students begins Tuesday. The “benchmark” tests are designed to see if students are learning the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) curriculum that TAKS is designed to measure. The TEKS curriculum was instituted in 1998. Peggy Fuller, principal at Canyon Intermediate School, said her students have taken benchmark tests every nine weeks. Some people might call that teaching to the test, but Comal Independent School District officials feel that the benchmark tests help students understand what the TAKS test will be like while pinpointing weaknesses. This enables the schools to provide individualized remedial pre-TAKS tutoring. K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Instructional Support Specialist Sandra Shelton (right) answers a question for Linda Meyer (center) Thursday afternoon during a presentation of the 2003 Texas Math Diagnostic System for Comal ISD teachers. Comal ISD is only the second district in Texas to receive this training from the Texas Education Agency. Fuller said students could be grouped together for tutoring. Indepth pre-TAKS tutoring starts next week. Why next week? Fuller said that if tutoring were pushed too hard, too early, students would sour on school due to test anxiety. “We’re not going to burn anybody out on this test,” the principal said. Fuller also said that the TAKS requires much more critical thinking than the Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS) did. Because the questions and required analysis are much more indepth, students are writing a lot more than they ever did. And there’s more, Fuller said. “There’s an overlapping of cooperative learning,” the educator said. For example, in science, a TEKS concept would be presented and later in language arts class, students might read the science book and then write about what they’ve learned. Or, students reading a book might be asked by their social studies teachers to discuss the country, people and customs they’re reading about. Fuller believes most of her students would master the reading, writing and social studies portions of TEKS. But mathematics is an area of concern. She cites a lack of practiced analysis and critical thinking, which takes time to learn when fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders are mentally and emotionally maturing. “It’s going to take a year or two, I think, to redirect students into thinking more critically. And all of that is about practice,” Fuller said. Developing mathematically aligned critical thinking skills takes about three years. Fuller said. But not all of the students have the same learning experiences. “Students are so diverse — that’s why the benchmarks are a handy tool. You’ve got to know where your kids are, then adjust, modify and reteach to those who are behind or who are so far ahead,” Fuller said. SeeTAKS/4A ;