BANGS — Construction and renovation at J.B. Stephens Elementary School in Bangs is substantially complete, with only “a handful of items on the punch list” to be completed, members of the Bangs Independent School District board of trustees were told Monday night.

Assistant Superintendent Truman Westfall said when that work is done, the district will release the final $130,000 payment on the elementary school work.

Voters approved the work in a May 2005 bond election.

Meanwhile, Westfall said work continues at the new high school campus, with work under way in the cafeteria kitchen, auditorium, band hall and classrooms. He said a lift inside the structure will be needed until after Jan. 1, and then it will be removed and a wall enclosed.

In other business, the board:

Considered a resolution to continue taxing tangible goods in transit following a public hearing at which no one spoke. Interim superintendent B.J. Rankin said board members had been provided with information on House Bill 621 passed in the last session of the Texas Legislature. It implemented a 2001 constitutional amendment that exempted goods in transit within the state from property taxes. The exemption is granted unless the taxing jurisdiction chooses to opt out, but the deadline to do so is Jan. 1. Board members deadlocked 3-3 on the resolution, and Rankin said as a result the board will be shown as not taking action, meaning the exemption will be granted.

“This doesn’t affect us right now,” Rankin said, “but it might sometime in the future.”

Voted to dedicate an additional $1 million from the district’s fund balance to go with $1 million that had previously been dedicated. Board member Gary Hamrick said the board had intended for that money to be dedicated, and thought the board had done so, but Rankin said the district’s auditor could not find a record that trustees had taken such action. Heard board president Larry Lehman report that each trustee has completed the required training, with team-building with the superintendent being the only aspect not yet completed. Rankin noted that the board was waiting until its new superintendent, Bill Foster, joins the district in January before scheduling that training. Foster attended Monday night’s meeting. Heard principals’ reports, which included success at UIL competitions and Gold Star Performance acknowledgments from the Texas Education Agency in reading, math and English at Bangs High School and in science and math at the elementary school.

“Our goal is to return Bangs High to a prominent place in UIL status,” Bangs High Principal Dan Vera said. “Bangs High is really doing a great job. The teachers are working hard to help students achieve, and TEA is finally recognizing that.”

Vera noted that Bangs High was ranked in the top quadrille of 40 similar schools statewide, and among that group was fifth.

Heard J.B. Stephens Elementary Principal Mike Cofresi report that 60 students were involved in the annual Green Santa project that provides toys, school supplies, clothes and stocking stuffers to children from families with financial difficulties.

“It was probably one of the nicest things we’ve done this year,” Cofresi said. “You could really see it was filling a need. It was really appreciated.” He expressed his appreciation to the community members, civic clubs and churches that assisted.