The neglect of issuing seat time at Waxahachie High for attendance forgiveness had seniors and parents worried about graduating on time. The Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees passed an amendment to the District of Innovation Plan on Monday that will allow students to graduate — even if they do not meet Texas Education Code requirements.

The regular May meeting opened with a public hearing to amend the District of Innovation Plan to omit the attendance requirement for graduation. The district of innovation plan allows the district to flex some laws to incorporate more innovative techniques or strategies to better serve students.

"By asking for this amendment, we have in no way as a district reduced our expectations of what we expect from our students in the classroom in the form of attendance," emphasized Shelle Blaylock, assistant superintendent of academics and leadership.

In the area of minimum attendance, Texas Education Code 25.092 mandates students must attend 90 percent of classes to advance to the next grade level or graduate. The Innovation plan was approved to include an amendment to add flexibility and exempt this requirement for the classes of 2019 and 2020.

TEA has released the district from a 30-day requirement so WISD can implement the rule as seniors graduate on May 31.

DRESS CODE

Mike Morgan, WISD Director of Student and Campus Services, and Blaylock discussed in detail the 2019-20 dress code during the boards' workshop, which took place before the regular meeting.

The two admin met with all secondary and elementary principals to analyze the current dress code and made recommendations. They then incorporated feedback into a modified proposed dress code that included more leniency and clarifications.

It was clearly noted in the code that students would receive disciplinary actions for violating the dress code.

"Discipline should be applied," Morgan stressed. "In other words, don't put a piece of duct tape over it and go to class. If that's what we need to do is put duct tape over it for you to finish a test, we will do that. But discipline will still apply to you."

In the general section of the dress code, the statement on holes in jeans stated exposed skin or undergarments above finger-tip length is prohibited.

"There has been some discrepancy in the how that has been enforced," Morgan noted.

All camo and solid colors are currently prohibited and were decided to be an outdated issue. Leggings, leotards and yoga pants have to be worn with a top that is finger-tip length. A statement also includes students with sagging pants may be required to wear a zip tie provided by the campus, to ensure that pants are worn at the waist level.

Athletic shorts must be finger-tip length, and those with a hemmed rise on the side of the leg must be finger-tip length as well.

New approvals include clarification on outerwear. The piercings rule is not gender-specific any longer, which permits male students to wear earrings. Visual body piercing and facial decorations are prohibited; however, a small nose stud is allowed.

Bandanas, sweat bands, hats, caps, hoods cannot be worn within the perimeter of the building. The house shoe rule was clarified to specify only soft-bottom shoes are prohibited.

It was also explained that mohawks may not be spiked or exceed two inches in height. Designs in hair that display inappropriate and distracting messages are not permitted. In prohibited hair colors, burgundy is now allowed.

The 2019-20 dress code was later passed in the consent agenda during the regular meeting.

COLEMAN BUILDING RENOVATIONS

In the June regular meeting, Jacob Perry, WISD Director of Facilities and Operations, will request $250,000 to $300,000 from the 2017 bond to enhance the Coleman Junior High campus.

Carpet in the building dates back to 1985 and is in dire need to be removed or replaced. Perry suggested carpet be removed in all classrooms and tile be installed, while carpet in the special education rooms, admin offices and library would be replaced.

Perry plans to also budget for new flooring in the foyer at J.W. Williams Gymnasium, as well as bathroom repairs, bleacher repair, expand the scope of the roof repair project, resurface gym floors and install wrought-iron fencing for security around the outdoor area near the lunchroom.

"I think this is a good start," trustee Kim Kriegel said. "Frankly and all this is wonderful and does improve the gym, but Coleman Junior High — the old high school — is not equitable to what our other students in the rest of WISD. I would like to see something to improve the atmosphere."

Trustee Clay Schoolfield suggested compiling a timeline of projects. Perry noted Felty Elementary, Oliver E. Clift Elementary and Howard Junior High campuses are still in need of repairs.

DISTRICT PROJECT UPDATE

Mikel Craig, WISD Support Services Coordinator, also serves as the project manager and provided a positive update of the construction of The Ron Appleton Agriscience Facility and Max H. Simpson Elementary.

Summer projects that will take place include a new roof for Coleman Junior High.

"We repaired these spots last summer only to find when we repaired these spots that the membrane came apart," Craig explained.

Removable walls will soon be installed in what used to operate as the band hall for the Ninth Grade Center, to transform the space into the hub for the Health Science Academy at Waxahachie Global. Parking lots will be paved and bids are coming in to replace the old field house roof.

DUAL LANGUAGE PROGRESSION

Viana Armstrong, WISD Bilingual and ESL Coordinator, and Blaylock presented the progression of the Dual Language program with the recommendation to advance it in middle schools.

Fifth-grade dual language parents were surveyed, which concluded the majority of parents desire the program to continue at the junior high level.

Blaylock noted it is critical to hire additional Spanish speaking, bilingual certified staff.

It is projected that 79 dual language sixth-grade students will be enrolled in the 2020-21 school year.

EMPLOYEE SURVEY

The Texas Association of School Boards conducted an employee opinion survey this spring, and WISD superintendent Dr. Bonny Cain has devised a growth and reporting plan to alleviate concerns. This will be communicated with staff immediately and ensure that principals will address these issues on independent campuses.

In other business, the Waxahachie ISD Board of Trustees:

— Approved the resolution and votes cast for Ellis County Appraisal District Board of Directors Election.

—Tabled the action item to contract from RFQ external financial auditing services. 

— Approved the purchase of a modest modular office building for administration from Shultz House Moving that will not exceed $60,000.  

- - - - - - 

Ashley Ford | @aford_news | 469-517-1450