Board Meeting Tonight

by Coy Holcombe.  

The Eustace ISD Board of Trustees meets tonight for their regular monthly meeting. Last month, the Board moved the meeting from the third Tuesday in March to the 12th to avoid conflicts with spring break. Items on the agenda tonight include:

  • Proclamation to the Ag Mechanics participants at the San Antonio show and proclamation to Kortni Harris for being selected as the East Texas State Fair Elementary Teacher of the Year
  • Financial Reports
  • Reports on PaySchools, Optional Flexible Year Program, Percent of economically disadvantaged students in area schools, and election costs
  • Changes to the Cheerleader Constitution
  • Date for Employee Appreciation Banquet
  • ISS programs at campuses
  • Voting for ESC Region VII Board Members
  • Update on Enrollment
  • Contracts for teachers and professional non-teaching positions

The meeting starts at 7:00 PM and will be held in the High School Library.


Sally Ride Science Festival

by Coy Holcombe.  

I received the email below about the Sally Ride Science Festival that will be held at SMU on Saturday, April 25. There are links to take you to pages with more information.

Also, Eustace High School is hosting the annual Masonic Luncheon today in the HS library. Each year at this time the local Masons host a luncheon to honor two seniors. It is always a pleasure to welcome these guests to our district.

Come join the fun at Southern Methodist University for the Sally Ride Science Festival.

Exclusively for students, parents and teachers –
Place: Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas
Date: Saturday April 25, 2009
Time: 11:00am to 4:15pm
The Science Festival includes:
• An inspiring talk by a featured scientist
• Workshops for students, which may be given by local veterinarians, astronomers, microbiologists and more
• Workshops for parents and teachers on ways to support girls’ interests in science
• A street fair with booths, hands-on activities, food, and music
Don’t miss out — sign up today!
Call: 800.561.5161
Register by March 26, 2009 for only $15 per person
Registration increases to $20 per person on March 27.
If you’d like to help spread the word about the Science Festival, we’d be happy to mail you flyers and posters. You can also send this email to your friends.
See you there!
Sally Ride Science
P.S. While our festivals are primarily focused on encouraging girls to pursue their interests in science, everyone is welcome to attend!

Girls Basketball All-District

by Coy Holcombe.  

We had some issues with our home page this morning and I was not able to post at my usual time.

 We have the results of the girls basketball all-district meeting:

Allie Cass – 1st Team All – District

Vanessa Lopez, Jenny McConathy, & Jessica McConathy – Honorable Mention All-District

Congratulations to these young ladies for their accomplishments.

This Week

by Coy Holcombe.  

I hope everyone is making the transition to daylight savings time okay. We have a lot of activities going on this week:

Tonight – The Bulldog Band is performing their concert contest music tonight at 7:00 PM in the High School auditorium. Our JV baseball team will be traveling to Kemp tonight. The game starts at 4:30.

Tuesday – Soccer teams are in action against Athens at Bulldog Stadium. The games start at 5:30. The softball teams will travel to Kilgore: games begin at 4:30. The Bulldog baseball team will be hosting Ferris. Games start at 4:30.

Wednesday – The Bulldog Band travels to Canton to perform in the UIL Concert and Sight Reading Contest. The band will take the stage at 11:30 AM.  Also, the High School will be hosting the annual Masonic luncheon at 12:00 PM.

Thursday – The Eustace ISD Board of Trustees will hold their regular monthly meeting in the High School Library at 7:00 PM.The meeting was moved from the third Tuesday of the month due to spring break. Varsity softball is in the Lindale Tournament. Boys and girls track teams will be traveling to Brownsboro. The varsity baseball team is in the Athens Tournament and the JV baseball team is in the Crandall Tournament.

Friday – The soccer teams will have their final regular season game at Chapel Hill. Games will begin at 5:30. Softball continues at Lindale. Varsity baseball continues at Athens and JV baseball continues at Crandall.

Saturday – Softball finishes the Lindale Tournament. Varsity baseball finishes at Athens and JV baseball finishes at Crandall.

This is the last week before spring break. Spring break will go from Monday, March 16 through Friday, March 20.

ProxMox Virtualization Hybrid of OpenVZ & KVM

by Rusty Meyners.  

OK, so you want my view on ProxMox, OpenVZ or KVM? Maybe even VMware, Xen & Virtuozzo?

Yes, someone really did ask, earlier this evening on Twitter.

First, I’ve no experience with OpenVZ or KVM as stand-alone; because ProxMox does both and gets you off to a fast and easy start. This does assume that you have some "big-iron" because ProxMox only installs on 64 bit bare metal and uses the whole drive array, though there are work-arounds to make use of the extra drive space if you need to.

I do have experience with VMWare Server and also ESXi but only after each became free, as well as a brief spinup of Xen and a significant period with Virtuozzo. Still can’t do without VMWare Server and Converter for utility, though my production stuff is almost always on ProxMox. Most of the hypervisors (even bare metal) are more or less free these days because the money is deemed to be in the management programs. Virtuozzo is a nice and unique product that unfortunately is far from free and probably will remain so until Microsoft becomes Open Source; and I would still be using it if it had come out with support for Server08 sooner.

OpenVZ is the Linux equivilent of what Virtuozzo does for Windows with an approach that partitions the operating system on top of a shared kernel, rather than virtualizing any hardware, which is where the processing and I/O overhead are lost. OS partitions are referred to as containers, rather than machines, and the term Virtual Environment is an umbrella for both types of virtualization; hence the VE on the end of "ProxMox VE".

Almost a year ago, I was deciding which way to go with heavy production, having only used VMWare Server and knowing I needed a bare metal solution cheaper than ESX (which has since become free), so it appeared Xen was the way to go, with it’s reputation of low overhead with the more efficient "para"-virt approach. Cranked up the Dell edition of Xen Express on new Dell hardware, because the free-version restrictions were slighlty more generous than the regular Citrix offer, and Dell had an interesting way of booting from an internal USB key and calling it "embedded".

Shortly after spinning up Xen and booting a new Server08 on it, an associate alerted me to a very interesting, though obscure Open Source product called ProxMox that we just had to try. Since I had a twin of the Dell 2950 running the Xen, we had the perfect opportunity to run a comparison. Installed an identical Server08 on a KVM in the ProxMox and did a PCPitstop test on both. I’m sure there are more sophisticated benchmarks but the bottom line was that, yes Xen was awesome on CPU efficiency but it was lousy on hard drive access and the ProxMox wasn’t bad on CPU while it blew away the Xen on drive access. One of the new Dells was intended for Linux and the other for Windows, so OpenVZ seemed like a no-brainer since Virtuozzo experience showed the container concept more or less undisputed for efficiency, leaving a decision on full or para-virtualization for the Windows box. KVM started looking real good and the hybrid approach sounded even better with the promise of the clustering, migration and management features.

The first production "machine" on ProxMox was for a Moodle, so VZ was the natural fit and of course that means it was a VE "container" (though the term machine is hard to drop); however significant Windows loads have been running on several KVM machines, ranging from media streaming & file serving to (believe it or not) MS Terminal Services.

The best part of a year has gone by and since then ESXi has become free and had its’ chance to compete with ProxMox as a host for Terminal Servers and others. It’s a great product with a wide range of features and a plethora of configuration options that ProxMox will never catch up with, but in the end we retired it and committed to ProxMox. Chances are, we may have some slightly older hardware around that will see some ESXi action but only because ProxMox VE will only run on 64 bit.

ProxMox VE uses a minimal installation of CentoOS or Debian (I think – should confirm) as it’s base and you are able to install other programs on it after it is running. Many basics are missing because they are not needed to begin using it for virtualization but it does have apt-get and you can quickly add wget. Since my Linux skills are somewhat light, this is the point where I put WebMin on it; because that wonderful package is what lets a Microsoft immigrant sleep at night when he starts putting vital services on Linux.

For those who gripe about ProxMox using the whole drive array, I have two answers. One, install a guest OS to host the space as network storage; and (or) two, use WebMin to manage the drive space.

Once you have ProxMox going, you will find plenty of reasons to crank up additional "machines". Because it is so easy to test new systems, it has been a snap to try out great stuff like BackupPC and Joomla, DimDim Server (just today) and hopefully soon, a FOG server and various security and firewall appliances.

Oops, I just remembered – the DimDim server was actually a pre-packaged appliance that I setup on VMware player to get it going quicker and will put it in a VZ container later. Just goes to show, that you still can’t do without some of the free VMware stuff like Server, Player and especially Converter. ProxMox has a wiki with instructions for P2V migration using VMware Converter, that I couldn’t do without.


New Baseball Scoreboard, Soccer, and Basketball Superlatives

by Coy Holcombe.  

Yesterday, workers installed the new baseball scoreboard at Bulldog Field. The new scoreboard is over twice the size of the old scoreboard. Our maintenance crews checked out the scoreboard and made sure it was working properly. If you get a chance, please drive by the baseball field and see the difference.

The new football scoreboard could not be installed yesterday because of the wind. Since there are soccer games here tonight, they will be back next Wednesday to install the football scoreboard. The new 30 second clocks were installed yesterday. 

Speaking of soccer, our girls are in a fight for a playoff position in soccer. They have a big game tonight against Mabank. The girls game starts at 5:30, followed by the boys game at 7:00. I encourage everyone to come out and support both teams tonight.

Baseball continues their tournament in Grand Prairie today and softball continues their tournament at Spring Hill.

We have found out that our boys basketball team received several awards at the all-district level:

Zach Keeling was named offensive player of the year.

David Key was a unanimous first team all district selection.

Johnny Lee was a unanimous second team all district selection.

Guy Hargrove and Trevan Johnson were both honorable mention selections.

Remember that we "spring forward" this weekend with the time. I hope everyone has a great weekend. 

4th Six Weeks – By the Numbers, Part 2

by Coy Holcombe.  

Yesterday, we looked at the attendance number through the 4th six weeks. Today, we will look at how those attendance numbers translate into funding for our district. As we have at the end of the first three six weeks, we will compare what we are earning with what we budgeted.

Budget vs. Actual – End of the 4th Six Weeks

  Earned Budget Difference
Regular Block Grant $4,622763 $4,766,154 -$143,391
Special Ed. $732,581 $941,197 -$208,616
CATE $386,143 $288,406 $97,737
GT $30,306 $30,992 -$686
Compensatory $690,258 $667,805 $22,453
Bilingual $3,681 $5,432 -$1,751
Transportation $139,000 $139,000 $0
Total Tier I $6,604,732 $6,838,986 -$234,254
Less Local $3,766,526 $3,766,526 $0
Tier I $2,838,206 $3,072,460 -$234,254
Tier II $717,697 $771,936 -$54,239
HB 1 $220,334 $228,232 -$7,898
Additional State Aid $1,517,891 $1,561,080 -$43,189
Staff Allotment $53,500 $53,500 $0
HB 1 (80th Session) $47,487 $42,456 -$1,696
Technology $41,487 $42,456 -$969
HS Allotment $117,292 $115,693 $1,599
Pre-K Grant $98,000 $98,000 $0
EDA $110,496 $133,390 -$22,894
Total $5,762,235 $6,125,775 -$363,540

 A few notes:

Through budget amendments, we have made up all but about $100,000 of the difference.

The remaining $100,000 will be accounted for when the appeal of our property  values is finalized. (Recall that the state made an error in our 2007 property values and actually had our property values over $11,000,000 too much).

As mentioned previously, the major contributor to the difference in the budget and what we are earning is the decline in overall enrollment in the district.

The slight increase in enrollment will help offset some of the difference.

We will continue to monitor what we are earning throughout the remainder of this school year.

If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at


4th Six Weeks – By the Numbers

by Coy Holcombe.  

Below is a table that compares our attendance and FTEs through the 4th six weeks with our budgeted amount:

4th Six Weeks – Budget vs. Actual

  Earned Budget Difference
ADA 1410.1787 1443.09 -32.9113
HS ADA 426.52 420.7 5.82
SE FTEs 53.0333 65.174 -12.1407
Mainstream FTEs 49.294 56.748 -7.454
CATE 79.0798 59.113 19.9668
GT 81 72.15 8.85
Compensatory 1040.2 1010 30.2
Bilingual 10.18 15.03 -4.85

While our enrollment has increase slightly over the last couple of weeks, our attendance was down during the 4th six weeks due to outbreaks of illness.

A few notes:

HS ADA refers to only the High School average daily attendance. The district receives additional funding for this figure.

CATE refers to the career and technology education courses offered at the High School. This would include ag classes, consumer science classes, certain business classes, and certain technology classes.

GT refers to students identified as gifted and talented.

Compensatory refers to the number of student that qualify for free or reduced meals. This is based on the average of the greatest six months of the prior federal fiscal year. 

Bilingual refers to the students that are receiving instruction in English as a Second Language.

Tomorrow we will look at how these numbers are impacting our funding. 

TAKS Testing and Construction

by Coy Holcombe.  

First, a review of the grade levels taking TAKS test today:

Third Grade Reading
Fourth Grade Writing
Fifth Grade Reading
Seventh Grade Writing
8th Grade Reading
9th, 10th, & 11th English Language Arts

Best of luck to all these students. I know that the teachers and students have put in many long hours learning the required TEKS in order to be successful for these tests.

Also, a brief update on construction:

A new baseball scoreboard will be installed in the next few days. It will be twice the size of the old one.

A new football scoreboard will be installed withing the next couple of weeks.

The gym is progressing on schedule.

The bleachers are complete. Handrails are being installed now in the bleacher sections.

The seating chairs are being manufactured now and will be delivered and installed by the first of May.

The lighting for the court area has been finalized and the fixtures have been ordered. The wiring for this is taking place now.

Some lockers have already been installed.

The transportation facility is waiting on updated drawings from the steel building manufacturer.



This Week

by Coy Holcombe.  

This week marks the beginning of TAKS testing. Testing begins tomorrow and runs through Friday for certain grades. Not all grades will be tested at this time.

On Friday, the soccer teams take on Mabank at Bulldog Stadium. The games start at 5:30. There will not be a soccer game on Tuesday.

Baseball and softball teams travel to Kerens on Tuesday. Both teams are involved in tournaments Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The softball team is in the Spring Hill Tournament and the baseball team is in the South Grand Prairie Tournament.

Report cards go home on Thursday of this week.

On Friday, the Primary School will be holding their six weeks awards assembly.

A note on enrollment: over the past 4 six weeks we have seen our enrollment either decline or hold around 1480. I ran the enrollment on Friday of last week and we had gained almost 20 students since our last board meeting. Our enrollment was up to 1498. This was a pleasant surprise.