Waxahachie ISD celebrates School Board Recognition Month

Waxahachie ISD
Pictured are (front row, left) Debbie Timmermann, Kim Kriegel, Melissa Starnater, (back) John Rodgers, Judd McCutchen, Dusty Autrey and Clay Schoolfield.

January is School Board Recognition Month, and Waxahachie ISD is celebrating its trustees for their dedication and commitment to the district’s schools and students.

“Our school board members are selfless volunteers who spend long hours working to help our district achieve its vision,” said WISD Superintendent Jerry Hollingsworth. “Celebrating School Board Recognition Month is one way to say thanks for all they do.”

Serving as a link between the community and classroom, school board members are elected to establish the policies that provide the framework for public schools. The WISD board is responsible for an annual budget of more than $107 million, more than 10,000 students, approximately 1,600 employees, and 16 campuses.

The WISD Board of Trustees devotes countless hours to ensuring Waxahachie ISD students and staff members are safe and successful. They do this through several initiatives, which most notably this year are:

Leadership

One of the most important responsibilities of the Board is to hire the superintendent for the district. The current Board selected and hired Hollingsworth in August 2021.

Vision and values

The Board unanimously approved the district’s core values and vision statement. These core values will be lived out by everyone in WISD, including Trustees, and will be applied when making decisions for the district.

ESSER III funds

The board allocated the district’s Elementary and Secondary Schools Education Relief (ESSER) III funding, which totaled $8,849,529. In an effort to increase the substitute fill rate, the board approved an incentive that increased substitute pay depending on the number of assignments taken during a particular month.

Employees who returned from the 2020-21 school year were awarded a $1,000 retention incentive in recognition of their hard work and dedication to ensuring WISD could safely provide in-person instruction.

A total of 158 staff members received stipends for accelerated instruction to students with the goal of eliminating any learning loss/learning gaps from the pandemic school years.

ESSER also funded professional learning community professional development for teaching staff. Additionally, supplemental materials for literacy, science, social studies and math were purchased. Technology devices were also purchased to expand and enhance WISD’s 1:1 initiative.

ESSER funds were also allocated to expanding current mental health programs for elementary and secondary campuses by hiring additional mental health counselors.

Pay

Paraprofessional support and auxiliary employees received a 5-percent increase, while administrators and teachers received a 2-percent pay increase.

COVID-19

The board continued to help navigate the district through the COVID-19 pandemic.

To serve as an elected school board member is a service to the district and community. Trustees spend numerous hours each week working to further district goals, not including the time spent in scheduled meetings. To prepare for crucial meetings, Trustees do their due diligence to make informed decisions.

Dedicated time to the district doesn’t stop there, either. School board members in Texas are required to participate in numerous types of continuing education and are obligated to complete 25 hours each year.

School board members are guardians of the public trust and, through the policies they make, are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of local public education. They carry the ultimate vision of the district and work with the superintendent to accomplish tasks and hold others accountable for measurable, attainable goals.

"Waxahachie ISD is extremely grateful for its Trustees’ commitment to the success of each student and staff member, and for the investment of time they make to ensure excellence in education for current and future students," the district stated.

Board members serving WISD are President Dusty Autrey, Vice President Clay Schoolfield, Secretary Melissa Starnater, Kim Kriegel, Judd McCutchen, John Rodgers and Debbie Timmerman.