A lone graduate walked the corridors to his own pomp and circumstance Monday night as the Pine Tree ISD school board hosted his private graduation ceremony.

Willian Sanchez was unable to graduate with his classmates in the spring but worked through summer school to earn his diploma.

The school board and Sanchez’s family and friends watched as Pine Tree High School Principal Cindy Gabehart and Career Technology Education Director and Assistant Principal Carrie Chandler presented Sanchez with his diploma.

“He came to summer school, and we did tutoring with him, and he did homework for us every night,” Chandler said. “It would have been really easy for him to just give up, and I just am very thankful and proud of him for pushing and doing the hard work that it took to be here tonight and knowing that we didn’t leave any child behind.”

In business matters Monday, the board approved a tax rate of $1.4233 per $100 of valuation.

Trustees set the maintenance and operations rate at just under $1.07 per $100 valuation and the school debt service rate at 35.5 cents per $100 valuation.

The new rate would mean a $1,423 tax bill on a $100,000 home, with no exemption claimed.

Assistant Superintendent Salena Jackson said the new tax rate will save taxpayers $102 per $100,000 housing value. Last year’s tax rate was $1.525 per $100 valuation.

House Bill 3, the school finance bill passed by this year’s Legislature, mandates districts lower their tax rates.

The board also approved allowing student participation in multiple physical education courses.

Lead counselor Bill Irvine said the approval will allow girls in the cheerleading class to be in the PE class or an athletic period for another sport, such as volleyball.

The board also approved waiving the prekindergarten fee for employees whose children don’t qualify for financial reasons to attend the program.

The state now funds full-day pre-K for low-income students, Superintendent Steve Clugston said. Originally, the staff was going to be charged $10 for a day of full-day pre-K.

The board also completed the evaluation on Clugston, who began working as Pine Tree ISD superintendent on June 2, 2018.

Board president Frank Richards, who is Place 4 trustee, said the board is still happy with hiring Clugston.

“I personally don’t think we could have made a better hire,” Richards said. “I don’t think we could have a better team than anybody in this room. The amount of change that has happened in a year is pretty tremendous, and I’m excited to see what you’re going to do next year.”