Whitney ISD receives clean, unmodified opinion in audit

Reporter: Ellie Mahan

The Whitney ISD Board of Trustees met Monday, December 13, in a regular session to hear administrator reports and review the district’s audit report.

The board heard a summary of the audit from Jaynes, Reitmeier, Boyd and Therrell for the 2020-2021 school year. A representative with JRBT thanked everyone who assisted with the audit and said she did not have any difficulties working with the management staff and expressed gratitude to the district for a smooth audit process.

The district was issued a clean, unmodified opinion, which is the highest rating that an entity can receive. The audit reported that the district budgeted for about $16.9 million in expenditures, and the total amount expended by the district in the general fund was a little less than $15.8 million.

Instruction, maintenance and data processing were the three sections that had the most positive variance, meaning the district spent less than it budgeted for in those areas. The district spent $460,000 less than budgeted for instruction, $250,000 less than budgeted for maintenance and $100,000 less than budgeted for data processing. There were no material weaknesses or compliance matters to report. The board approved the audit as presented.

Assistant Superintendent Melody Haley presented a budget amendment to allocate $4,500 more for the drug testing program at the high school. The budget allocated $2,500 to this area, and the board approved the budget amendment to move $4,500 from the fund balance to drug testing expenses. Haley anticipates that the district will have leftover funds in various sections of the budget, so she expects that the $4,500 will be added back to the fund balance.

The board then heard administrator reports. Whitney Elementary School Principal Amber Seely reported that family night for the elementary school was Monday, December 13. At the UIL competition last week, two elementary school students placed in ready writing. About the elementary school’s semester in general, Seely said, “We’re excited. We’ve got some things to celebrate and some things to work on. It’s that time of year where we’ll start looking at things that we are doing well and start planning for the second semester on what to change and fix.”

Principal Russell Gauer reported that the intermediate school had a UIL competition at Whitney a couple weeks ago, and then students traveled to McGregor Thursday, December 9, for UIL competitions. The intermediate school finished third place overall in the UIL competition, scoring just six points behind the second place team. Gauer said, “There were several comments about how well our kids behaved while we were there, so that’s always a good thing.”

Principal Kendra Hensley said Whitney Middle School had UIL competitions in Clifton last week and placed 7th overall. Hensley said there were some events that Whitney didn’t compete in, so the campus lost points for lack of participation in some events. The campus is already working on ways to boost participation for next year. There were 14 WMS individuals and five teams that placed in the competition. One Act Play also competed Saturday, December 11. Three WMS students received honors there, with an honorable mention all star cast award, technical crew all star cast award and an award for all-star cast. WMS Symphonic band also recently competed, with 11 students making ensembles and another 14 placing in the upper half of their sections. Hensley said academically, teachers are just looking at benchmark data and planning ways to continue to help students prepare for STAAR tests. Laura Hunt, director of curriculum and instruction, said that because the state of Texas wants all public school students to take their STAAR tests online by 2022, the middle school students took their benchmarks online this year, which reportedly went well because students were familiar with the online program.

Principal Leech said the high school students took their standardized tests during the previous week and were taking semester exams throughout the week of the board meeting. The High School band recently had a competition, and four students scored advanced. Leech said, “It’s a busy time, but we’re wrapping up this semester and getting ready for second.”

Mark Byrd, athletic director and head football coach, reported that 21 student athletes received the academic all-district title. Four student athletes achieved the title of Academic all-state for Texas High School Coaches Association: Kyler Cryns, Jaxon Montgomery, Garrett Peacock and Kolt Byrd. More nominations for position-specific honors will be publicized near the beginning of 2022.

The assistant superintendent expressed excitement about the state of the district’s fund balance because the district has stuck to the budget this year. She said, “We haven’t dipped into fund balance this time. We have many years, and we couldn’t really help it. This year we made it, and I’m just ecstatic about that.” Brad Brunett, board vice president, said the fund balance has been doing well for a while, and he commended the leaders of the district for bringing it to a comfortable level so that there is enough money for emergencies.

After the board met in closed session, the trustees returned to open session and voted to hire Chelsea Fulfer as a teacher.

Nominated for WISD’s staff member of the month was Megan Holt, elementary school teacher.

Superintendent John McCullough read Amber Seely’s nomination statement, “I would like to nominate Megan Holt for staff member of the month. Ms.Holt is a highly organized and efficient teacher. Her ability to plan and organize helps keep her prepared and ready for instruction each day. She is focused on what her students need to help them meet their goals and have high academic achievement. She is often first to the conference table with her data ready to discuss next steps in the classroom. The hard work she puts into preparation shows in the classroom. Our students are blessed to have the kind of teacher that puts their interests and needs as a top priority. We are thankful that Ms. Holt is a part of our team at Whitney Elementary.”

The board will meet for next month’s regular session Monday, January 10.

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