Monday’s Longview ISD board meeting started with a celebration of graduates before approving funds for Montessori training and deciding to move fuel storage tanks from underground to above ground.

Seventeen students finished their studies Monday night at the Longview Early Graduation High School.

Principal Kristi Means started the ceremony with a message to her graduates.

“When we depart this world to meet our maker, the headstone will have two dates,” Means said. One date will indicate the day of birth, she said, and one will indicate the day of death, with a dash in the middle.

“That dash represents our life,” she said. “What will you do with your dash?”

After the graduation, students on the University Interscholastic League academic teams at each elementary campus were recognized for their successes at an interdistrict meet.

Some of the students read their winning essays to board members, performed poems or talked about how UIL has benefited them.

Board president Ginia Northcutt encouraged the students to continue their UIL journeys.

“It helps these children at a young age experience what they’re learning in the classroom and take it and make it real life for them,” she said. “And they get to have fun with it. Competition’s fun. I love UIL, because — I can speak from my family and my kids — when they were in UIL, they were both competing with themselves and with other people, and they weren’t just competing with kids they knew in their own school. It gave them the opportunity to meet new children.”

Trustees approved $175,000 in grant funds for Montessori training for teachers for the 2020-21 school year.

The Montessori teaching method seeks to develop natural interests and activities rather than use formal teaching methods, according to the American Montessori Society.

The board also approved removing underground fuel storage tanks and installing them above ground.

Chief Financial Officer Joey Jones, who also oversees the transportation department, said the risk of the tanks increases the longer they are underground. The tanks currently have been underground for about 30 years.

The district has been monitoring them, but Jones said it would be safest to move them above ground.

Chief Innovation Officer Craig Coleman also spoke to the board about the district’s Senate Bill 1882 status.

Currently, the district is reviewing possible partners to run charter campuses as charter schools authorized by SB 1882.

SB 1882 is legislation that allows school districts to partner with outside entities to take over campuses for financial incentive.

Colman said he is planning to have contracts with possible partners to the board to approve by March 23.