Weatherford ISD board of trustees adopted the tax rate and budget for 2019-20 during their meeting on Monday evening at the District Services Building.
WISD’s new tax rate is $1.34735 per $100 valuation, a decrease of about 10 cents compared to last year’s rate.
Trustees approved the budgets for maintenance and operations, interest and sinking and child nutrition. M&O and I&S are estimated to be surplus budgets while the child nutrition budget is expected to break even. According to a presentation by Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance Lori Boswell, the M&O budget is expected to bring in about $83.6 million in revenue and about $79.58 million in expenditures. The I&S budget is expected to bring in about $14.2 million for revenues and about $12.77 million for expenditures. The child nutrition budget is balanced at about $2.9 million.
The total expenditures for all three budgets is about $96.27 million, Boswell said.
Revenue for all budgets are expected to increase, according to the presentation. M&O revenue is increasing by about $6.5 million while I&S revenue is expected to increase by about $1.8 million.
WISD and other Texas school districts are seeing more incoming state revenue as well as compressed M&O tax rates because of House Bill 3, the recently passed state school finance reform bill.
To transition to the new formula under the new state law, WISD is expected to receive about $3.6 million extra from the state, Boswell said.
The board held a public hearing for the proposed tax rate and budget, and no one addressed the board during the hearing.
Trustees discussed a part in the budget that sets aside money to hire seven security officers. Superintendent Jeffrey Hanks said the district is not considering those positions currently, and the board hasn’t formally acted on that decision.
“We’ve taken down the posting for that position, and we’re not interviewing anyone,” Hanks said. “We’re not considering that, those seven positions at this time.”
The board also approved the 2019-20 WISD Student Code of Conduct during the meeting. The new code implements newly approved state legislation related to student discipline, such as Senate Bill 11 which aims to improve safety at schools. In particular, SB 11 requires that school districts create “a threat assessment and safe and supportive school team to serve at each campus and adopt policies and procedures for the teams,” according to board documents.
WISD’s District Educational Improvement Committee also recommended that the code include:
• The reasons a threat assessment may be warranted.
• Further detail regarding what constitutes mistreatment of others in the area of racial, cultural, or ethnic intolerance.
• Information about tampering with safety equipment.
• Changes the Disciplinary Alternative Education Program consequences chart for certain behaviors, such as for possession of vapes or vape paraphernalia, persistent misbehavior, truancy, fighting and felonies committed on school property.
Board members asked the district to update its administrative regulations to allow parents to be present when their student is being interviewed by law enforcement.
Trustee Tiffany Fowler said in the case of police questioning a student because a crime has taken place at school, the interview occurring without a parent present is in conflict with a juvenile’s rights.
“As a district, we should have a policy that says we’re not going to allow that unless a parent is present or has been contacted and said go ahead,” Fowler said.
Under the current regulation, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources and Operations Monty Chapman said law enforcement would be used in discipline cases only when illegal activity had occurred. If the parent is not available, WISD administrators can act in the parent’s place, Chapman said.
“If there is a valid reason that the officer requests that a parent not be present, in the case of things such as sexual abuse, something along that line if they have a valid reason, then the administrator is to take that into consideration before making their decision on whether to call or not,” Chapman said.
The board also hired Emmett Whitefield as the director of accounting. Whitefield had previously worked for the district about four years ago in the same position.
“I’m just glad to be back,” Whitefield said.
The next regular board meeting takes place on Sept. 9.