WAXAHACHIE

With three newly elected members sworn-in and seated, the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees voted on new officers, approved $2.9 million in renovations to the current high school and received quite a few districtwide updates Monday night.

The first order of business was to officially canvass the recent school board election, which saw John Rodgers, Melissa Starnater and Kim Kriegel receive enough votes to best the field of challengers. The trustees then unanimously selected Dusty Autrey as the new board president, Clay Schoolfield as the new vice president and Judd McCutchen the secretary.

Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Glenn said the district is “excited to welcome these three new members to the board” in a WISD-issued press release.

“With their diverse experience and skills, we know they will come together with the rest of the board to continue to do great things for the students and staff of Waxahachie ISD,” Glenn added.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Ryan Kahlden, WISD assistant superintendent of business and finance, presented an informational item on the district’s delinquent foodservice balances policy.

By law, the district can no longer use surplus federal monies to cover any meals when a student has insufficient funds. Because of this, the district is forced to use monies from the general fund. Due to the statewide "no shaming" policy, students with insufficient funds receive the lower-cost option, which includes a smaller entree than the regularly priced lunch.

Kahlden explained to the board the cafeteria managers inform the students when their accounts begin to reach zero. There are then attempts by the cafeteria manager to reach the parent or guardian, and then, after the negative balance reaches $15, a certified letter is sent to the student's address.

Kahlden informed the board the option of an "economy meal" could be offered but would have to be made available to all students.

When asked how many students have a negative balance, Khalden replied, "the percentage is small." He then stated about 80 students have a $15 or more negative balance.

"Some parents have figured out that there is no enforcement on the backend and they have taken advantage of the system," Kahlden said. He also noted in years past the balance across the district would be around $2,000. However, this year, the balance has “exploded” to nearly $14,000.

Negative balances are wiped clean at the end of the school year, while positive balances are either carried over to the next year or returned to the family.

The recommendation from the Waxahachie ISD child nutrition department would be to set a hard $15-negative balance cutoff. Any student who goes beyond that threshold would not be served a meal.

This was an informational item and will be presented to the board at a later date.

ACADEMICS

The most significant item presented by Shelle Blaylock, WISD assistant superintendent of leadership and academics, was an update to the Board Policy DEC (LOCAL) to reflect the recommendation of the district advisory team.

The committee recommended the trustees amend the policy that required the last five years of a teacher’s attendance to be reviewed before the district refunded unused time off. The recommendation still required the teacher to maintain 95 percent attendance but dropped the five-year window to three years.

The district advisory committee also asked for WISD to provide more in-depth FMLA training, which was approved earlier in the meeting. The FMLA training plan was presented to the board and can be found in the employee handbook.

The trustees unanimously approved the amendment to the local board policy.

The board also unanimously approved a Waxahachie regional day school program for the Deaf Shared Services agreement.

Blaylock then updated the board on the staffing report for the 2018-19 school year, stating most positions on each district campus have already been filled and noted a strong candidate pool remains for the open spots.

“We continue to see strong retention of our teaching staff and other campus and district-level professionals,” stated Blaylock in a district-issued press release. “We know that means that our board and administrative team have done a great job of implementing policies that make Waxahachie ISD a great place to work. We are very confident that our remaining positions will be filled by the best of the best.”

FACILITIES

The motion to allow Glenn to execute all necessary documents to renovate the current Billy Bates Center — the CTE wing at the current high school — for DAEP, Ellis County Credit Union and the WISD curriculum department was unanimously approved.

Clyde Melick, WISD assistant superintendent of facilities, presented the action item.

DAEP is the Waxahachie High School of Choice and Challenge Academy.

Melick explained the proposed renovations would cost around $2.9 million with a $102,000 contingency built-in. The trustees allocated $5 million for this project with the 2015 bond. To date, about $1.5 million of that has been spent.

The DAEP and daycare are currently housed in the same building at Turner. Though DAEP will be housed on the same campus as Coleman Junior High, the two schools will have secured entrances and will not allow for students to crossover.

The project will take 45-60 days, according to Melick. The first wall will come down June 1. The renovations are expected to be ready for the start of the new school year in August.

The board then heard a presentation on potentially employing a production manager-at-risk for the construction of North Grove Elementary. Melick stated about 90 percent of school district currently utilize this method and recommended the board take the same route.

There was no action taken, as it was a discussion item, only.

OUTSTANDING SERVICE

As part of the personnel report, the board accepted the retirement of longtime educator Ora Frazier, who has been with WISD for 30 years and is the current principal of Turner Prekindergarten Academy.

“Ms. Frazier has been instrumental in the success of the district’s pre-K program,” a district press release reads. “[She] has worked very hard to implement the full-day pre-K program that was a vital part of the 2014 Long Range Planning Committee’s vision.”

Full-day prekindergarten begins in August.

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Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith

(469) 517-1470