From the Weatherford Democrat, By Christin Coyne, 07/19/14 –
In preparation for a bond election, the Weatherford ISD Board of Trustees Thursday approved contracting with a firm to conduct a survey of Weatherford ISD voters.
The survey, which would be conducted by Baselice & Associates, could measure support and opposition to potential bond proposals, help identify the best price-point for a bond package and measure support for various elements of a bond package, according to board packet information.
Baselice & Associates is a national research organization out of Austin that has conducted more than 2,200 research projects over the last 17 years, trustees were told.
Depending on the number of interviews and number of questions asked per interview, the cost could range between approximately $15,000 and $24,000, according to information provided to trustees, though the district has the option to add more questions to the survey.
Baselice & Associates would conduct the survey in early November and present it to the board in mid-November, according to district staff.
Board president Paul Paschall noted that while he supports the timeline, the clock’s ticking.
Staff told trustees that Weatherford ISD has used Baselice numerous times in the past and they’ve done a “fantastic job and have been accurate every single time we’ve used them.”
Baselice will have at least 300 people complete the more than 20-minute survey, requiring more than 10,000 phone calls, trustees were told.
It’s strategic in looking at who turns out for elections, such as making sure that the sample reflects the demographics that are voting.
Trustee Joshua Tarbay asked if, while focusing on a bond election, the survey could take the pulse of the community on things such as the district’s mission.
That’s what the district intends to do, he was told.
With little discussion on a recommendation by Weatherford ISD’s School Health Advisory Council to include previously omitted curriculum on sexually transmitted diseases, trustees also approved the district’s 6th grade human sexuality curriculum.
Weatherford ISD’s SHAC recently had its annual review of the district’s health education instruction as required by state law.
According to a briefing submitted to trustees, members of the advisory council heard from an elementary council representative and a district nurse supervisor about the issue of the omitted lesson.
During two meetings, members of the advisory council reportedly discussed the issue and district staff members recommended that the information be included based on conversations with individual students and questions that were raised privately and anonymously, according to the board’s briefing.
The advisory council voted 5-3 to include the previously excluded content.
However, district administrators recommended the district continue to omit Lesson 4 regarding sexually transmitted diseases from the Worth the Wait instructional materials and continue the opt-out process for any portion or all of the curriculum upon parent request.
That recommendation was based on the close vote of the advisory council and discussions with elementary campus principals, according to information given to trustees.
“Move for approval of the School Health Advisory Council’s human sexuality curriculum,” Paschall said, in a motion approved unanimously by the board.
The district has not had any recorded complaints or conflicts during the past two years, since the district has added a phone messaging system to the parent notification process.
The district notifies parents of the opt-out procedure by letter, email, phone and parent meetings, where counselors can answer parents’ questions before the program begins in May. The curriculum materials are also available for parent review, according to the district.
“Every method that you can communicate an opt out procedure is being done,” Paschall said, adding that he was proud of the district’s process. “There is no other way that you can communicate that available today … thank y’all for that.”
Elementary school lunch prices were also raised 10 cents per meal to comply with regulations governing the WISD Child Nutrition program.
The lunch for students will now cost $2.35, after action taken by trustees. The staff lunch price rose to $3.25 to meet requirements, also.
Middle school and high school lunch prices will see no increase this year.
Trustees also entered into an agreement with Texas Neighborhood Services to continue to lease space for the Weatherford Head Start program at the Travis Elementary School building. The district has rented the building to TNS since 2008 and the annual lease is just over $38,000, according to information presented to trustees.