BISD board approves residency requirement

The Borger ISD board of trustees has approved a policy that would require certain employees to live within the city limits.The action was taken during the board’s regular Thursday evening, held at the BISD Administration Building.Under the terms of the new policy, a district employee shall live within the boundaries of the district for the duration of employment for the following positions:*Superintendent*Assistant Superintendent*Executive Director of Personnel*Business Manager*Director of Federal Programs and Instruction*Director of Technology*Athletic Director*Principal*Assistant Principal*High School Head Coaches*High School Band Director*High School Choir Director*Transportation Director*Maintenance DirectorThe exception to this policy is that if one of these employees lives outside the boundaries of the district prior to the policy’s passage, they may continue to live outside the district boundaries so long as he or she is employed in the same position held at that time.If a person who falls under this exemption is employed in a different position listed under the policy, the residency requirement will then apply to them. Any district employee who moves to a position for which there is a residency requirement shall be provided a grace period of one year within which to move within the boundaries of the district.The board held discussion on the policy at its May meeting, but decided not to take action at that time in order to do further review and to see if changes could be made to it.Superintendent Chance Welch said he spoke with a policy consultant about possibly changing the wording to include allowing people in these positions to live in neighboring districts. However, he said the consultant told him that by doing so, the policy would lose some of its effectiveness.“The logic behind putting this in place, we want these employees to make a commitment to the district or if there’s an emergency situation or bad weather, you want them close enough where they can make it in to work,” he said. “If you start changing it up, you lose that emphasis.”Board member Les Sharp asked Welch if the consultant made him aware of any other school districts that have a similar policy. Welch said the Dumas Independent School District has such a policy, and the idea to implement such a policy came from Dumas. Fellow board member Elaine Feese asked Welch if he was comfortable with the policy. He said he sees pros and cons with it. He said he wants employees to be committed to the district. However, he said he knows the coaching positions present more of a problem, since there may be times a spouse of one of the coaches may not be able to find a job in Borger, and the coach doesn’t want him or her driving back and forth.Sharp asked if there have been some different expectations indicated in the hiring process. Welch said the district tries to encourage its employees to be a part of the community as much as possible, but without a policy in place, it can’t give a specific directive for people to do so.Feese said she was aware that some of the assistant principals live outside Borger, so they would under the exception, along with a couple of coaches. Board president Johnny Rusten asked Athletic Director Rusty Purser if any head coaches need to be hired this year that might be affected by such a policy. Purser said as of right now there are not any that need to be hired.Welch said he would like to see coaches be a part of the community, but he understands the issue when it comes to their spouses.Rusten said when it comes to hiring coaches, he knows Purser might be afraid of losing a good coach if the policy were passed. However, he said he believes Borger wants these particular employees to be active participants in this community.“Those on this list who don’t live in town, they don’t participate in our community,” he said. “They get in their cars and trucks and go home.”Welch said he agreed with Rusten, that this policy needs to be driven by what the community as a whole wants, and if the board feels like this policy is what it wants, it should be passed. Board vice-president Robert Bradley asked Welch if simply giving employees a directive to live and be a part of the Borger community would be enough to bring them here. Welch said he felt having a policy in place would be more effective.Sharp said he is proud of his town, and wants employees to be here. He said he wanted to know more how such policies have affected local districts, and wanted to know if this was a pressing issue.Welch said it wasn’t pressing, but it did need to be taken care of soon.Dr. Kent Gray said he couldn’t see how it would be a problem to have such a policy in place, as people not living in the district has been more of a problem than the other way around.“I would be inclined to think this is something we need to have in place,” he said.Rusten also said he feels the policy simply makes more sense from an economic standpoint, as the employees will be spending their dollars, paying taxes, and living in the Borger community versus living somewhere else. “From a community standpoint, it does make sense,” he said.