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Board Members Study Policy for Advanced Academics

Board Members Study Policy for Advanced Academics

Committee seeks systematic way to ‘raise the bar’ for students


On Tuesday, Associate Superintendent Peter Griffiths and Ward Roberts, director of innovation and advanced academics, presented to board members the work of the District Advisory Council, which has been laboring over some knotty problems determining class rank and grade point averages.

Mr. Griffiths presented the Council’s conclusions in the form of revisions to Policy EIC (LOCAL) and EIC (REGULATION) at the Board of Trustees special session Tuesday at noon.

Determining that the various high school academic programs such as AP/IB classes and dual credit courses are equally rigorous, a subcommittee of the District Advisory Council met throughout the fall to propose changes to the current calculations of GPA and class rank.

Overall, the committee and District want to promote a college-going culture. To do that, the committee proposed raising all college-credit courses to a value of 5 points on the GPA scale. Currently, Honors and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses earn 5 points toward the GPA formula, dual credit courses earn 4.5 points, and regular classes earn 4 points. With the proposed change, all courses that earn college-level credit would earn a student 5 points on the 5-point GPA scale.

It doesn’t seem fair to penalize a student with a lower grade point when he chooses a specific course, like a dual credit course, that best suits his talents, said Ward Roberts.

The committee also asked that students pursuing all college courses would first take and pass the TSI test, which certifies college readiness. Currently, only students who plan to enroll in dual credit courses must take the TSI test.

Another change the committee asked for is standardizing the criteria for students who want to take an early Algebra 1 course. They recommended that the student interested in this option complete two of the following three criteria: Score well enough on STAAR math tests to qualify as “Meeting Expectations,” pass the District readiness test, and/or receive a teacher’s recommendation to take Algebra 1.

The committee also proposed offering more dual-credit courses, like WFISD’s “Earth Wind and Fire” course at Rider High School, which is offered in a partnership with the University of Texas. There are many such “On Ramp” courses that offer the rigor of UT-Austin with no cost to students. The only cost to WFISD to offer such elite courses is the cost of sending a teacher to a summer training for two weeks, said Superintendent Mike Kuhrt.

The current GPA system also favors students who are interested in STEM fields, such as science, technology, engineering and math, by determining a student’s GPA based on five science courses, four math courses, four English courses, four Social Studies courses, and two language levels.  This requirement is heavily weighted in math and science. Mr. Griffiths explained the proposed changes that would determine a student’s class rank GPA in the new formula: four English, four math, four social studies, four sciences, two language levels of the same language and one other course of the student’s choice.

“We have created a system very STEM oriented, and not every kid is STEM,” said Mr. Griffiths.

He also suggested that the District inform parents earlier about high school class options, since choosing academic courses is more complicated than they probably realize as their children head into seventh and eighth grades.

Financial reports as of Oct. 31, 2018

Chief Financial Officer Tim Sherrod presented year-to-date financial reports to board members representing two months of operations, 16.7 percent of the fiscal year.

As of October 2017, the District collected 19.69 percent of projected revenues, compared to 19.62 percent for 2018-2019. Expenditures for 2018-2019 were 15.86 percent of budget, as compared to 15.89 percent for 2017.

General Fund revenues were 22.29 percent in 2017 compared to 20.59 percent this year. Expenditures were 16.88 percent in 2017 compared to 16.29 percent this year.

Food Service Fund revenues were 17.30 percent in 2017 compared to 29.51 percent this year. Expenditures were 14.84 percent last year, compared to 22.13 percent this year.

For the Debt Service Fund, revenues were .9 percent last year, compared to 1.37 percent this year. Expenditures were zero last year compared to zero this year.

2018 Budget Amendments

In a 7-0 vote, board members approved a report by Mr. Sherrod detailing 16 budget amendments ranging in cost of $80 to $95,362. The inter-functional budget transfers included costs for substitute teachers at several schools, extra-curricular travel, security televisions, after-school enrichment clubs, field trips, a TASB legal settlement, new teacher meeting supplies, legal services, a limited English proficiency bilingual education allotment, and an athletic complex change order for Memorial Stadium.

Counselor Compensation Review

Mr. Sherrod asked board members to review a new salary plan that would standardize compensation to the District’s counselors.  

Mr. Sherrod and Human Resources Director Cyndy Kohl worked together to create a new formula that would create fair compensation for current counselors and for teachers who move into counseling at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. The high school counseling job is the most demanding, said Mr. Sherrod.

The new policy will affect 34 counselors: 14 elementary, 8 middle school and 12 high school. Once approved, it will be enforced retroactively to the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year.

The cost of realigning counselor’s pay, including readjustments for some counselors by as much as $8,000, will cost $113,887.41, said Mr. Sherrod. These funds will come from the fund balance.

Securing Architect and Engineering Services

Mr. Sherrod asked board members to award a contract for architectural services for maintenance jobs and capital improvement projects around the District to Bundy, Young, Sims & Potter. He also asked that a contract for engineering services be awarded to Estes McClure & Associates. WFISD currently employs Estes McClure & Associates for its engineering projects and SLA Architects for architectural services.

The contract is for one year, with four one-year renewals.

The contract puts the two companies on retainer for help in emergencies and on special projects. Mr. Sherrod included a schedule of fees for the services, which are “the same amounts we approved the last time.”

The fee schedule and contracts give board members and the District a basis to budget for upcoming projects.


Memorial Stadium Repair – Deck Coating

Memorial Stadium will undergo a thorough deck coating to protect it from water damage – the final step to renovations at the facility.

Refurbishments to the northeast side of the stadium’s upper deck are nearly complete, according to Brady Woosley, executive director of operations.

The bleachers at the stadium will be removed before the deck coating is done, then replaced. The best time to do the job is as soon as the football season ends, said Scott Hafley, athletic director.

The District has taken bids from six companies for the coating project. Low bidder is Trinity Hughes, with an estimate total of $1,378,458. Bids ran as high as $2.8 million by Oklahoma Waterproofing and $2.1 million by Chamberlain Waterproofing.

Mr. Sherrod asked board members to accept the recommendation to award CSP 19-07 to Trinity Hughes Construction for $1,378,458. Board members are expected to vote on the project in the Dec. 17 board meeting.


Personnel Report

In a 7-0 vote, board members approved the applicant pool for the hiring of four teachers with a combined 11 years of experience. Two teachers were hired for Wichita Falls High School, one for a new position at Crockett Elementary and one will go to Franklin Elementary.