WAXAHACHIE — During a budget presentation on Monday evening, Ryan Kahlden congratulated and thanked the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees for achieving such items as pay raises for staff and increases in the maintenance budget all while producing a balanced budget.

“With an increase in enrollment, operating expenses, salary increases, combined with decreases in state funding makes it difficult to maintain a balanced budget," said Kahlden, Waxahachie ISD Assistant Superintendent of Budget and Finance. "We do see a revenue increase from an increase in property taxes due to higher valuations, but balancing a budget gets difficult."

To fund the 2017-18 budget, an ordinance was unanimously approved to keep the total tax rate at $1.5539 per $100 valuation, which is the same as the 2016-17 rate.

Kahlden stated the final general fund budget is $77,415,319, with debt services proposed at $14,351,609 and child nutrition at $4,698,043.

The board unanimously approved the budget proposals.

In other business, a motion to honor a request by the WISD Long Range Planning Committee to commit $4,000,000 of fund balance to campus improvements was unanimously approved. The trustees agreed to commit $3 million to general school improvements and recommit $1 million to a new agriculture science facility.

A district official previously confirmed to the Daily Light that $1 million for the new agriculture barn was already set aside by the trustees following the 2015 bond election. The motion to set aside the monies from the general fund was made by Floyd Bates, seconded by Gary Fox and carried 7-0 during the meeting held May 11, 2015. The motion passed Monday, Aug. 28 was to recommit that amount to the project.

The board also unanimously approved a proposal for the district to host eight "No Homework Nights" throughout the school year.

According to a district press release, the "No Homework Nights' are designed to allow families more time together during the week, free of schoolwork.

“We know that busy families don’t always get to spend as much time together during the week as they’d like to,” Waxahachie ISD Superintendent Jeremy Glenn stated. “'No Homework Nights' will provide them with time to slow down and do an activity as a family. We believe that quality family time is extremely important to the development of every child, and we encourage families to eat dinner together, play board games, read a book, or plan an outdoor activity on 'No Homework Nights.'”

According to Waxahachie ISD Board President James Villarreal, the nights set aside are Sept. 13, Oct. 6, Oct. 12, Nov. 17, Feb. 7, March 29, April 9 and May 4.

Other items approved by the board included:

A service contract between the district and Interquest Detection Canines of North Texas was approved as one of the consent agenda items. The canines will be used by the district’s security staff for drug detection as well as other support uses Approval of a 2017-2018 Chapter 41 agreement that approves for the purchase or attendance credits (Netting Chapter 42 funding). An amendment to the final 2016-2017 budget by an increase of $100,000 due to school beginning one-week earlier than expected and for costs associated with that opening Approval of a TASB policy language addressing Waxahachie ISD District Innovation plans Approved the district's nomination of Joe Pitts for the Ellis County Appraisal District Board of directors The declaring of old antennas on district buildings as surplus items allowing them to be disposed of in accordance of Texas Law and Board policy Authorization to authorize the superintendent to contract with Anthony Mottla for professional architectural services for the district's design-build project with Nay Construction for a new support services building