The last 72 hours have been quite busy for Waxahachie ISD, which included a four-hour marathon closed session Monday night to debate a level-three grievance filed by a district athletic coordinator.
There were also three new school board members elected, a district-wide pay raise approved by the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees, a $23 million bond approved by voters, and a plan established to build a new agricultural science facility on the campus of the new high school.
Almost 4,000 registered voters let their voices be heard at the ballot boxes during the May election cycle to decide three seats on the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees and the fate of a $23 million bond for a new elementary school.
To be exact, 3,967 of the 29,826 registered voters, or roughly 13.30 percent, cast a ballot in the election — up from 7.95 percent (2,264 of 28,466) in 2017 and about 6.2 percent (1,717 of 27,324) in 2016.
Over 52 percent of the ballots cast this year (2,025) were in favor of the proposed bond to build North Grove Elementary in the North Grove subdivision.
Waxahachie ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Glenn stated the district is "grateful" that Waxahachie voters recognized the need for the bond, which will have no impact on the current school-tax rates.
"We know that as our community continues to grow, we must provide students with appropriate facilities in which to learn," Glenn added.
The school is expected to open for the 2020-21 school year.
Two new faces and one familiar one were also elected to fill three seats on the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees.
Waxahachie Fire Battalion Chief John Rodgers received 1,952 votes (21.08%) to lead all candidates. Melissa Starnater received 1,665 votes (17.98%) and former board member Kim Kriegel received 1,396 (15.07%) to edge Stephanie Jennings Singleton (1,229 votes; 13.27%) and Eric Cunningham (1,224 votes; 13.22%).
During the 2017 election cycle, Kriegel and Starnater received 896 and 869 votes, respectively.
Rodgers, Kriegel and Starnater will replace outgoing trustees Matt Authier, Gary Fox, and James Villarreal. None of the three leaving the board ran for reelection.
“Our team is very excited to work with our new board members, and we extend our congratulations to them,” Glenn said. “We know our students and staff benefit greatly when administrators have a positive, cohesive working relationship with our trustees. I want to also express my sincere gratitude to our three outgoing board members for the outstanding contributions they have made to our district in their time in office.”
The election results were canvassed at a called board meeting Tuesday morning. The new trustees will take office at the May regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, May 14.
The first agenda item addressed during the Monday night session of the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees resulted in an almost four-hour closed session to discuss a level-three grievance filed by Finley Junior High athletic coordinator Micah Fletcher.
Fletcher joined the district in 2016 after 10 years as a teacher and coach at Ferris, Dallas Molina, Life Oak Cliff, and Itasca High Schools.
He filed the level-three grievance to effectively overturn a resignation he signed as part of a Sept. 12 agreement between his legal counsel and WISD. The resignation, which is effective June 4, cited multiple personal conflicts between Fletcher and a former Waxahachie head coach.
In a previous Daily Light article, Fletcher stated he hoped the "school board and administration ultimately rescind my resignation" and added he wanted to continue to teach in WISD.
The board unanimously denied the withdrawal of the level-three grievance.
"However, we strongly encourage Mr. Fletcher to apply for reemployment with the district for the 2018-19 school year for any positions for which he is qualified," stated board member Matt Authier during the official motion.
RAISES FOR ALL
For the fourth consecutive year, the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved districtwide raises.
The salary increases, which go into effect for the 2018-19 school year, amount to about 3.5 percent for all teachers, counselors, nurses and librarians, as well as four percent for all returning clerical, support, auxiliary, and paraprofessionals. District administrators will receive a 1.5 percent increase.
"[The trustees] understand the importance of recruiting and retaining a strong staff, and rewarding them for their hard work and achievements in the classroom,” Glenn acknowledged. “All of our staff members are extremely appreciative of the support they receive from our board.”
IN OTHER BUSINESS
The trustees heard an updated on the 2015 bond fund expenditures, tabled a vote on a DEC (LOCAL) board policy update, approved stands for the sub-varsity football field at the new high school, and approved an RFP for a land planner to program district land around the new high school.
The trustees also approved The Nay Company as the design-build contractor for the new district agriscience facility, to be located near the new Waxahachie High School. The board also voted to name the building the Ron Appleton Agriscience Building.
After a much shorter closed session, the board also approved seven new hires and several resignations.
One of those new hires included Ryan Cavazos, who is the current principal of High School of Choice and Challenge Academy. He was hired as the new principal at Howard Junior High School. Cavazos replaces Jacob Perry, who was named as the new Waxahachie ISD Director of Support Services last month.
“Mr. Cavazos has proven himself to be a strong leader over the past two years at High School of Choice and Challenge Academy,” Glenn said. “We know he will continue the great work that Mr. Perry has done at Howard and will lead the campus and its staff to new heights.”