The Waxahachie ISD School Board voted unanimously to extend the school day for elementary and secondary students by 15 minutes during a called meeting Monday.

The new start and end times for Pre-K through fifth grade will be 7:45 a.m.–3 p.m., and the new times for sixth through 12th will be 8:30 a.m.–3:45 p.m.

WISD Superintendent David Truitt explained that the decision was made to increase instruction time and adjust the schedule conflict with the block lunch instituted last year.

“With the block lunch schedule, there was a shift in the schedule and that made it too tight for the bus runs,” Truitt said.

Board President Mark Price noted that the additional 15 minutes puts the district closer to others in the county that provide more instructional time than WISD. Before the change, WISD students only attended school for the state minimum of instructional time, seven hours.

“We found that we were at the minimum instruction time in the classroom,” Price said. “This will help with that and is a step in the right direction.”

Truitt noted that most of the districts throughout the county start at 7:45 a.m. and though the start time at the high school was 7:50 a.m., about 90 percent of the students were on campus by 7:45 a.m.

Board Secretary Gary Fox addressed some teachers in the audience at the board meeting to see how they felt about this decision. They cited that the block lunch schedule, meant to add structured time for tutoring, had not accomplished that goal.

“The whole point of the block lunch was to allow for tutoring time, and we are working to better structure that time this year,” Truitt said.

Assistant Superintendent for Finance Teresa Thomas delivered an overview of the  2013-2014 district budget and gave each board member a packet of information on the budget.

The board voted to set a public hearing on the budget for 6 p.m. Aug. 19 with a second public hearing Aug. 26 to approve the final budget and tax rate.

In Thomas’ overview, she noted that the tax rate will remain the same and the budget is balanced. The district is projecting an enrollment of 7,833 students this year, up 1.7 percent from 7,556 students last year. Thomas noted that the district receives $55.98 per student for attendance.

Trustee Dr. Joe Langley asked about the Texas school finance lawsuit against the legislature and how the recent decision of the case, in favor of the districts, will affect its average daily attendance funding.

“At $55.98 we’re about in the middle, maybe a little higher than average, so I don’t think that will change us much,” Thomas said.

“I think people would be surprised to find out how much, even in Ellis County, it varies for each district, considering we all do about the same job,” Langley said.

Along with an increase in enrollment, Thomas said the district will receive an additional $24 million from the state, with about $13,000 specifically for Pre-K. This additional funding is partly in response to the court case decision, she said.

The board took action in open session to approve Tyrus Lacey as the new assistant principal of Howard Junior High after discussing the appointment in closed session.

In other business, the board received three informational presentations on securing all school entrances, Spark Energy’s analysis of Turner Gym, and updates to the code of conduct per changes by the Texas Association of School Boards.

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