A lengthy executive session prior to Thursday’s regular meeting of the Weatherford ISD Board of Trustees resulted in the hiring of a new architectural firm and the end of a nearly 25-year relationship with VLK Architects.The decision to hire Huckabee was not one to be taken lightly, board president Paul Paschall said. “We are walking away from a quarter-century long relationship that was both deep and wide,” he said. “From the outside, this may look like an easy decision to you but I can assure you, it’s not.”Huckabee is an employee-owned architecture, engineering and management firm based in Fort Worth. They specialize in building schools and bond projects and have worked with Mansfield ISD, Eagle-Mountain Saginaw ISD, HEB ISD, among others, to build high schools, middle schools and special event centers. With the board’s vote, a contract will now be negotiated with Huckabee to continue until Dec. 12, 2014, with the option to renew for four additional one-year terms. Also at the meeting, Dr. Nita Ellis, Executive Director of Student Services, showed trustees a draft of the 2014-15 school calendar and explained the process of how it is formulated. She said a calendar committee formed of several administrators, WHS Principal Lynn Pool and other assistant principals evaluates student, parent and teacher surveys to determine the most viable solution to meet everyone’s requests. “It isn’t an easy process,” Ellis said. First and foremost, state law states that school cannot begin prior to Aug. 25, 2014, that there must be 180 days of instruction (or 175 days of instruction plus five days Professional Development waiver) and two inclement weather days must also be included. Teacher contracts must be 187 days. Taking everything into consideration, Ellis said they were able to accommodate all requests except for parents who asked for a full week at Thanksgiving (35 percent). The calendar will be presented to the board for final approval in January.Ellis then gave her work systems review for Student Services. She highlighted that the 96.7 percent attendance rate to date is an 11-year high for WISD, noting that Crockett Elementary and WHS showed the most improvement. Another area of pride for Ellis was the graduation rate. WISD’s 99.4 percent is well above the region average and places them second among similar districts in the Metroplex behind Southlake Carroll. In other business, the board:• Approved a resolution to commit fund balance before financial statements are recorded next month. The move is in conjunction with GASB 54 standards and does not restrict any use of the funds. • Approved the extension of The Cooperative Purchasing Network (TCPN) for contracts regarding furniture, office supplies and equipment, security systems, technology and other goods and services. WISD has been a member of TCPN for “many years” and the approval updates the interlocal agreement. • Heard a campus report from Lori Box, principal at Mary Martin Elementary, and were given a demonstration by students on STEMscopes.The next regularly scheduled meeting of the WISD Board of Trustees is Jan. 16.
Melissa Winn, 817-594-9902, Ext. 104 Twitter: @scoopmdw3701