WISD escapes worst of storm

Damage from broken pipes on campuses minimal, trustees told

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light
Examples of water leaks caused by bursting pipes as a result of February’s winter storm at Lumpkins Stadium. The district was able to avoid widespread damage and returned to classes on Feb. 22.

Last month’s historic winter storm and subzero temperatures waylaid many Texas residents and business owners alike. But thanks to some preparation based on weather forecasts, the Waxahachie Independent School District suffered minimal damage.

The district’s facilities were largely spared damage from broken water pipes during the winter storm between Feb. 13-20, and the total repair estimate amounts to about $57,000 across the entire district, WISD support services supervisor Andy Reeves told the WISD board of trustees at Monday night’s regular monthly meeting. The majority of that, about $42,000, comes from replacing a broken boiler at Finley Junior High.

Reeves said 12 of 17 campus buildings had no water leak issues and no damage. The most damage was suffered at Coleman Junior High and at Lumpkins Stadium, where several pipes broke. Because of the action taken, the district was able to reopen at 100 percent on Feb. 22.

“We were very fortunate that we were able to contain leaks before they became a more severe problem,” Reeves said.

The staff was also able to take steps before the extreme cold hit to limit damage by shutting off valves, sealing doors and covering exterior hose bibs, Reeves said.

District director of support services Raul Gomez recognized Reeves and other members of his department for their work during the winter storm.

“The team functioned like a well-oiled machine,” Gomez said. “I’m proud of each and every one of them.”

All trustees were present except for board secretary Judd McCutchen, who had to leave early.

Other items

• The board approved the hiring of Eugene Rogers, who will serve as new WHS head football coach Shane Tolleson’s defensive coordinator. Also approved was the hiring of his wife, Candra Rogers, as an assistant principal to fill a vacancy at WHS.

• The board also approved elementary teacher contracts and coordinated contracts, a change in salary structure for changes in assignment, and the creation of a special education position to work one-on-one with students.

• All-state band performers Ethan Brown, Dhruval Rangrej, Clara Moriarty, Leah Gonzalez, Owen Bartosh, Richard Olokode, Johnni Fuller, Logan Boyd, Emma Watson and Lilyanna Armstrong from WHS were recognized by the board.

• Waxahachie city emergency management director Thomas Griffin thanked the school district for its help in evacuating a nursing home on the night of Feb. 16, the coldest night of last month’s winter storm. Mayor David Hill didn’t speak, but presented certificates of recognition to members of the WISD transportation department.

• Felty Elementary instructional aide Amber Richmond was recognized for her service, and Finley Junior High counselor Robin Ruthart was recognized as well.

• Superintendent Dr. Bonny Cain said barring any unforeseen problems, the WHS prom will be held Friday, May 14 at the Hamptons event venue in Red Oak and the Global High School prom will be Saturday, May 15 at the Ellis County Events Center.

• Global’s graduation will be Thursday, May 20 and WHS’ graduation will be held Friday, May 21, both at Lumpkins Stadium. Cain said she hoped that by then, the stadium will be allowed to open fully and no tickets will be needed. The last day of school will be Tuesday, May 18, which is one day later than previously scheduled because of snow days.

• WISD career and technical education director Dustin Binnicker gave a presentation on the district’s College, Career and Military Readiness (CCMR) program. Assistant superintendent of secondary learning Dr. David Averett proposed to the board that students who do not meet the CCMR requirements not be allowed to have an off-campus period until the requirements are met. Action on this item would take place at a later meeting.

• As part of the consent agenda, the board approved an upgrade of security cameras from analog to digital on three campuses at a cost of $101,000, the installation of secure entrances at a cost of roughly $50,000, and renovations of library spaces at Wedgworth and Shackelford Elementaries at a combined cost of $140,000.  WISD chief financial officer Ryan Kahlden said these projects would be funded through about $400,000 in savings from the construction of Simpson Elementary.

• The board approved the 2021-2022 academic calendar. The first day of school for teachers will be Thursday, Aug. 5 and the first day of classes will be Thursday, Aug. 12. District assistant superintendent of elementary learning Lisa Mott said the district will be shortening the school day by 10 minutes, after it lengthened the day by 10 minutes for this school term in order to bank extra days in case of a COVID-19 shutdown.

• Trustees approved a $500 one-time stipend for full-time and $250 for part-time employees of the district as a reward for their hard work during the COVID-19 pandemic. The stipends would be paid on April 9.