The Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees opened their regular meeting Monday evening with several recognitions of athletes, academics and those who responded first to the tornado at Waxahachie High.

After the photo ops and handshakes, a variety of academic reports were presented.

Shelle Blaylock, Assistant Superintendent of Leadership and Academics, opened a public hearing to discuss the district improvement plan that aims to increase student success in the A—F Accountability rating system.

A total of five goals each with performance objectives were presented. These goals can be found on the district website and the box. No additional public comment was made.

Blaylock remained at the lectern to discuss the progression for the advanced academics department with new structures, guidelines and operating procedures for advanced academics.

“We have been looking heavily at our gifted-and-talented advanced academics program, seeking to find how we can increase the percent of students that are identified in our district,” Blaylock began.

About four percent of students comprise this area of academics. This year, transfer students who were previously enrolled in GT programs were automatically admitted. The new procedure added 29 students to the advanced academics group, “rather than go forth with testing and doing all the things that we make our students do on being initially referred.”

At the elementary school level, new criteria now identifies students in subject areas rather than a student needing to qualify in a multitude of areas.

“Through this plan, I think we can better serve students,” Blaylock emphasized.

Previous testers who did not meet the requirement were revisited and 57 GT students at the elementary level have been added based on the new criteria.

The referral window is open for advanced academics. Currently, there are 57. Between October and March of 2017, a total of 80 referrals were made. “Right now we are on track to hit that number if not more,” Blaylock emphasized.

Through these changes, GT enrollment has increased by 5.5 percent to 490 students with 21 students pending. If all were to be accepted, the enrollment would have risen by 5.7 percent.

On a non-academic related note, Ryan Kahlden, WISD assistant superintendent of business and finance, provided an update on the EF-zero tornado that brushed through the WHS campus. The estimated cost of all repairs and replacements totaled $94,963.

The board closed the regular meeting at 8:21 p.m. and reconvened at 10:14 p.m.

The board voted five-to-two to authorize the interim superintendent to pursue resolution of M.M., et. al. v. WISD, Cause No. 97666, 443rd Judicial District Court, Ellis County, Texas, in accordance with the terms discussed in closed session by adopting the mediator's confidential proposal, and further authorize the interim superintendent to execute any necessary documents related to the resolution of same.

Lee Auvenshine, Deputy Superintendent of Human Resources and Legal Services, then asked the board to consider hiring two teachers to address the retirement of one teacher and one paraprofessional. The board unanimously approved the personnel report.

The board then took the time to recognize Veterans Day and discussed publicizing a form for veterans who were unable to obtain a high school diploma so they could be issued an honorary degree.

The meeting closed at 10:21 p.m.

- - - - - - 

Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450