Standing atop the band director's stand outside Brownwood High School one recent morning, David Lambert called out important instructions over a megaphone.

"Everybody, whether you're thirsty or not, get some water," the third-year band director called out. "Seniors first "

Members of the band that bills itself the Mighty Maroon Marching Band broke ranks from where they'd been standing in formation and addled over to a refreshment area.

Typical for a late-summer practice, band members had practiced marching without instruments, holding their hands in the positions they'd be in if they did have instruments, marching, moving, turning under Lambert's directions.

The man billed as "the band's number-one fan" sat in a chair near some of the band members. He's Ronnie Laird, a Brownwood resident in his 50s who's been deaf since catching pertussis, or whooping cough, when he was 3 months old just before his parents would've taken him in for a pertussis immunization.

Lambert introduced the band's two drum majors, Taran Cardenas and Kalin Young.

Lambert said he expects the band to be about the same size as last year, with 75 to 80 members.

School board approves trips for band, Lionettes

Brownwood school board members approved a trip for the band over spring break to Orlando, Fla., to participate in a sight-reading workshop at Walt Disney World called "You're Instrumental."

Lambert told board members sight-reading skills are essential. Professional musicians spend most of their time sight-reading, Lambert told the board.

Board members also approved a trip for the Lionettes to Orlando, where they will perform during the halftime show at the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day.

The 21-member drill team garnered an invitation after their performance at a camp for drill teams at SMU, Lionettes director Stacee Hetzel told board members.

The Lionettes will have fund-raisers to pay for the trips, Hetzel told the board.

Additional school board action

Board members voted to propose a total tax rate of $1.2547 per $100 valuation, which will be a decrease of 5 cents per $100 valuation if board members give final approval to that rate.

The proposed 5-cent decrease is in the interest and sinking, or debt service, portion of the tax rate, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Gabaree told board members.

"The decrease is due to old debt being paid off," Gabaree told board members.

Board members approved a 10-cent increase in school meals for students who are not on the free and reduced lunch program. The increase is in accordance with federal guidelines, board members were told.

Approved an order for a Nov. 4 school board election. The seats of Place 1 incumbent Michael Cloy, Place 3 incumbent Roderick Jones, Place 6 incumbent Lisa Fowler and Place 7 incumbent Tim Jacobs will be on the ballot.

As of Thursday afternoon, Fowler and challenger Pricilla Monson have filed in Place 6.

The filing period ends Aug. 18.

Heard Leisa Land, assistant superintendent of curriculum, report that all campuses met standards in STAAR testing.