Conroe ISD names 2 new principals, approves mass communications system purchase

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Hailey Elementary School Assistant Principal Jarod Lambert was named as the new Bush Elementary School principal on April 16. Courtesy Conroe ISD

Oak Ridge High School 9th Grade Campus Principal Anthony LiVecchi was named as Oak Ridge High School’s new principal on April 16. Courtesy Conroe ISD

Two new principals are set to helm Bush Elementary and Oak Ridge High schools, after their appointments April 16 by the Conroe ISD board of trustees.

Jarod Lambert, Hailey Elementary School assistant principal, and Anthony LiVecchi, Oak Ridge High School 9th Grade Campus principal, were both unanimously approved for their new positions at Bush and Oak Ridge High during the board’s April 16 regular meeting. Conroe ISD Superintendent Curtis Null credited the administrators for their ongoing work in the district, before giving both staffers a chance to address the board.

“Dr. Lambert has been a vital member of the Conroe ISD family,” Null said after the first confirmation. “He is known districtwide as being not only a man that has great experience and knowledge, but a man of great class and character, and I know that he will serve this community well.”

Null also commended LiVecchi’s work at the Oak Ridge freshman campus, particularly his management of its large student body and improving test scores.

“For the last three years, we’ve had a principal at the ninth grade campus that has come in and just bought into the Oak Ridge way, and he’s all in,” Null said. “We have a man of high class, character and intellect that is ready and poised to lead that community.”

Following the confirmations, the board moved to consider the purchase of a new mass communications system for districtwide use. The SchoolMessenger service, offered by West Interactive Services Corp., provides basic functions, such as attendance and lunch balance management, as well as mass campus communications and emergency notifications.

Conroe ISD Director of Communications Sarah Blakelock told the board SchoolMessenger was chosen for consideration following the evaluation of several similar services. Blakelock said the program, which is used by school districts nationwide, including Houston ISD, offers a secure and well-connected infrastructure capable of handling CISD’s increasing enrollment and potential stresses during major weather events.

“As our district has grown, we’ve realized that we need a lot more stability,” Blakelock said. “There’s reliability [with SchoolMessenger], whereas other platforms might not have those same relationships with the telecommunications systems.”

The program would replace the district’s Blackboard-based notification system and would be implemented in time for the 2019-20 school year while Blackboard is phased out over the summer. The Blackboard system costs $68,900 annually, while the SchoolMessenger infrastructure would cost $69,750 each year in addition to a one-time setup fee of $1,200.

“A thousand dollars more, we’re getting more stability, more texting characters and something that can grow up with our district,” Blakelock said.

The board voted unanimously to authorize the purchase of the SchoolMessenger system, before hearing an update on the district’s development projects from Easy Foster, the administrative director of planning and construction. Foster noted construction on Suchma Elementary and Stockton Junior High schools is on pace for the facilities’ planned 2019 and 2020 openings, respectively, while major work at Austin Elementary and Conroe High schools is also on schedule.

CISD Chief Financial Officer Darrin Rice also presented the board with a recommendation for the purchase of musical instruments and equipment totaling $455,000. The purchase, which passed unanimously, will be used to establish Suchma’s music program and address critical needs at other district schools.

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