The Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees voted Monday night to keep its promise to taxpayers by approving no increase to the district's tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year.

The board also voted on several agenda items concerning finances and heard a detailed update on constructions projects.

Before the board opened the floor for the public hearing portion of the meeting, Ryan Khalden, assistant superintendent for business and finance, stated he does not anticipate any significant increases or decreases to the 2017-18 budget. He also noted the 2018-19 budget is balanced, at about $83 million for expenditures and revenue.

Concerning the general fund, Khalden estimated enrollment for the new school year to be at 8,922, which is about 277 more students than last year. He noted projections show the trend will continue in the years to come.

"We are looking at close to a 700-student estimated increase between elementary and secondary by the 2020-21 school year," Khalden noted.

The budgeted enrollment increase for the new school year is at 300.

"If you remember last year, our attendance was actually lower than what we anticipated, so we took a $500,000 write down on our estimated state revenues toward the end of the fiscal year. Well, given where we are right now with the 800 students, if they all attend at 95 percent, we are right on this number," Khalden affirmed.

He continued, "We are banking on our student attendance at where it's been historically in the past couple of years. So we are making last year's as kind of a fluke."

Khalden said the district plans for 96-percent attendance like in the past and credited a widespread case of the flu to last year's decrease. Budgeted accomplishments included pay raises for all personnel, an increase in starting teacher pay to $46,290, a 3.5-percent increase for the teacher pay scale and a balanced budget.

"The capital projects funds, we will determine those a little bit later," Khalden added.

The total spent on the 2015 bond is just south of $103 million, added Khalden. He also noted that about 90 percent of the new high school expenditures are accounted for, as well as 40 percent of the other capital improvement projects.

No community members spoke during the public hearing portion of the meeting, which was held to address the potential tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year.

TAX RATE

The 2018-19 tax rate of $1.5539 per $100 valuation was unanimously approved with the maintenance and operations rate of $1.17 and an interest-and-sinking fund of $0.3839.

“Again, no change in tax rate over the past three fiscal years as keeping our promise to the voters to not seek a tax rate increase with the approval of the North Grove project bonds,” Khalden stated.

Other financial items unanimously approved on the agenda were the final 2017-18 budget and the 2018-19 budget for the general fund, debt services fund and the child nutrition fund was unanimously approved.

Also, the 2018-19 stipend schedule was unanimously approved, which included junior high band directors receiving a $3,000 increase ($8,000 total) and the junior high assistant band director receiving a $1,250 stipend increase. The varsity cheerleading sponsors will also receive an increase to match the varsity drill team sponsors.

CONSTRUCTION

Khalden presented construction updates around the district.

The new high school project is nearing completion, as crews are now working on landscaping, which should be completed in about two weeks. Khalden also noted hydro mulching should begin in about "four weeks" around the retention pond at the new high school. The district is still waiting on bleachers to be delivered to the baseball field.

“Today, at the high school, we are about 90 percent complete,” stated Khalden.

He also stated the renovations to the rear of the old high school renovation are close to 40 percent finished, with the DAP and Waxahachie High School of Choice portion of the campus already complete.

According to Khalden, the new curriculum department for the district, which is also located in the rear of the old high school, is moving along "pretty good." He noted the timetable for completion is still well over 12 weeks away.

Khalden also discussed an informational item on future construction projects that would allow the superintendent to approve projects under $50,000. It will be presented next month.

ACADEMICS

The annual academic and career-and-technical dual-credit agreement with Navarro College was unanimously approved.

The credit by exams policy was briefly discussed, but there was no necessary action, as Waxahachie ISD Acting Superintendent Shelle Blaylock explained.

Blaylock noted the district will continue to work with the Texas Association of School Boards and feels confident with the two current providers — Texas Tech University ISD and the University of Texas ISD. No action was taken, and the dates of testing will be published.

The board entered closed session at 6:32 p.m. and reconvened at 8:01 p.m.

Once back in the open session, the trustees approved the personnel report as recommended by the acting superintendent that included employment, retirements, resignations and position changes. Also, the procedures and resolutions to implement the safety and security plan that was approved by the board of trustees on Aug. 6, specifically including the appointment of school marshals and amendments to WISD board policies CKC (Local), GKA (Local) and FNF (Local).

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Travis M. Smith/Daily Light contributed to this report.

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Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450