Of the three schools that did only virtual instruction Monday, Hamilton Park Pacesetter Magnet and Math Science Technology Magnet will return to offering in-person learning Feb. 23, Assistant Superintendent Sandra Hayes said during a Feb. 22 RISD board of trustees meeting. A date for when Richardson High School, which was the other school that offered only virtual instruction Feb. 22, would reopen has not yet been determined, Hayes said.
“We are in a good place tonight,” Hayes said. “All of our buildings are operational with the exception of Richardson High School. After doing our assessment, 45 of the 55 [campuses in RISD] had some type of damage from the winter storm.”
The district had emergency crews out at campuses Feb. 15-17 as needed, said Hayes, who oversees district operations. District staff then worked Feb. 18-21 to get campuses prepared for classes, she said.
Superintendent Jeannie Stone said the district’s ability to have water and heat in its buildings was an important component in the decision to have school Feb. 22, as was RISD’s ability to feed its students.
Hayes explained Richardson High saw a water pipe in the kitchen area that had previously been patched break again, and a separate pipe in its fire sprinkler system also needs to be repaired.
“They made a lot of progress today, and we'll continue to make that progress tomorrow and let Dr. Stone decide what needs to be done after that,” Hayes said.
She said the district does not yet have a financial estimate on the amount of damage the storm caused at district campuses. RISD Chief Financial Officer David Pate said the district’s insurance deductible for its buildings is $100,000 and its total coverage limit is $250 million.
“I don't expect at all that we would reach anywhere near our total coverage limit,” Pate said. “Then on the mechanical equipment, our deductible on that is $10,000. We certainly have the funding between [the] general fund’s fund balance and local capital projects to be able to fund these repairs and then get our recovery [payments] from our insurance companies.”
In addition to the update on district operations, the board also unanimously approved a resolution delegating Stone the authority to make decisions on behalf of the district so it can continue operations and student instruction in the aftermath of the storm.
“As we move into the next week or two where we're needing to make repairs and make some decisions, I need to have the authority to be able to take some action that may normally require board action,” Stone said to the board. “At each subsequent meeting, I'll give you an update on any action that was taken.”
That resolution also gives Stone authority to decide how the district will allow employees to be paid for missed work days.
“The bottom line here in terms of pay is that we do not want any of our employees to be docked pay on account of the unexpected days off last week,” Stone said.
While not all district personnel were able to return to schools on Feb. 22 because of issues with their own homes, Stone said student attendance was above 93% for the day.
Deputy Superintendent Tabitha Branum said the district is eligible for a waiver for the missed instructional minutes from the Texas Education Agency that should keep RISD from having to make any changes to its school calendar.
“As a result of that [waiver], we will not have to use our banked minutes, nor will we have to use our April or May snow days,” Branum said. “We're very fortunate. We feel like we are set up, pending any other future weather events, [so] we will not have to make a change to the calendar. That still leaves us with available banked minutes for any other kind of situation that may develop [during the last] 11 weeks left of the school year.”