The Waxahachie ISD board of trustees met Monday night, hearing updates from the administration about the fiscal crunch in the state’s capital.

Assistant Superintendent of Finance Teresa Thomas said there are no firm numbers at this time, but cautioned the board that a worst case budget projection sees the district being hit with more than an $8 million cut in each of the upcoming biennium’s years.

“No one knows for sure what the cuts will be,” Thomas said of the state funding, noting that several scenarios have been projected by education consultants Casey, Moak and Associates.

Thomas and Deputy Superintendent David Truitt both said the administration has begun “brainstorming” ways to handle a decrease in state funding of that magnitude.

The district already has enacted hiring and salary freezes and is cutting back on travel and training for personnel. A large list of those and other, potential measures was reviewed with the board, with it noted that WISD does have a fund balance that it can put toward a shortfall in state funding.

The list of potential measures did not include layoffs, with the administration and board emphasizing those will be avoided if at all possible.

Thomas noted the possibility the state also may defer two months’ funding for the 2010-2011 school year into the next year, which would be a delay of normal payments to the districts. Such a deferment would require WISD to dip into its fund balance for about $10 million – and then have to wait to be reimbursed.

At this time, Waxahachie ISD has about a $24 million fund balance, of which $11 million has been designated for construction/renovation costs related to the reconfiguration of campuses.

Although WISD has a fund balance, Thomas cautioned that TEA wants districts to have three months’ payables on hand. Those districts that don’t can find their creditworthiness impacted in such areas as bonds.

In response to several questions, Thomas and Truitt said they would add financial figures to the list of measures so the board can have an idea of the monetary impact as the budget process moves forward.

“Everyone needs to be contacting their state legislator (about the cuts),” Thomas said. “It hurts the children. It hurts education.”

In other business, Truitt presented the district’s annual AEIS report, noting academic gains for the district as well as areas where improvements can be made.

The report is available on the district’s website, with copies also at each campus.

Truitt also reviewed with the board updates to TASB Policy Update No. 89, with those unanimously approved.

The board called an election for May 14, with two seats up for three-year terms each. The election will be a joint election with the city of Waxahachie.

During a workshop session held prior to the regular meeting, board members discussed the pros and cons of hiring a construction manager/agent for the reconfiguration projects on the Clift Middle, Finley Seventh Grade and Howard Eighth Grade campuses. The three campuses also were formally renamed beginning with the 2011-2012 school year for Texas Education Agency identification purposes.

There was no agenda item and no discussion on the rezoning of attendance zones for the elementary and junior high campuses. No one from the public spoke on the subject during open forum.

During the personnel report, Collins announced that current Dunaway Elementary principal Eric Brewster will take over the helm of Clift Elementary, with current Clift Middle School principal Ruthie Sutton moving over to Finley Junior High. Both moves are effective for the 2011-2012 school year.

Contact JoAnn at joann@wninews.com or 469-517-1452.