Clear Creek ISD to postpone May school board elections due to coronavirus

Clear Creek ISD will close all facilities through at least April 10. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)
Clear Creek ISD will close all facilities through at least April 10. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

Clear Creek ISD will close all facilities through at least April 10. (Jake Magee/Community Impact Newspaper)

The elections for two seats in Clear Creek ISD districts 2 and 3, respectively, will be postponed until the general election on Nov. 3 after board of trustees members voted at the March 23 regular board meeting to delay the elections from their initial May 2 date.

This is a one-time action, and the cycle will return to May elections in 2021, according to the agenda item information form presented at the meeting. Win Weber and Arturo Sanchez—who represent districts 2 and 3, respectively—are both up for re-election and will continue to serve until the results of the November election.

Gov. Greg Abbott on March 13 declared a state of disaster for all counties in Texas and, in response to the upcoming May elections, later signed a proclamation allowing political subdivisions with May 2 elections to move their elections to the general election date.

Michelle Davis, who will vie for the District 2 seat, provided community input at the board meeting—which was held virtually—to call for an election postponement. Nonincumbents are losing face-to-face time with their constituents, she said.

Candidates are not able to block walk due to the coronavirus and would be at a distinct disadvantage to incumbents if [the election date is] not changed,” she wrote.

Paul McLarty, deputy superintendent of business and support services, said at the meeting that elderly election polling place workers are some of the most at-risk members of the community in terms of susceptibility to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Turnout would also likely be low, therefore not allowing for a good cross-section of either district, he added.

The effects of the coronavirus came up in another agenda item when the board voted to approve a resolution that would allow for extra pay for
hourly employees. Hourly, nonexempt employees are not being asked to work unless there is an absolute necessity, McLarty said, but some will be needed to keep the district operating smoothly during the period of distance learning. The district will remain closed until April 10.

Salaried workers will see no changes in pay, but hourly workers will be compensated for additional work, whether they complete it at home or at CCISD facilities, McLarty said.

“We have enough savings, I think, in some of our other areas of the budget, where we’re not going to be negatively impacted,” McLarty said at the meeting.

Leila Sarmecanic, the general counsel for the district, said similar measures were taken during the state of emergency caused by Hurricane Harvey, and that the resolution is written so that the board would have the authority to approve the resolution as opposed to only Superintendent Greg Smith.

The agenda information item sheet said Smith authorized the payment of employees during the emergency closure of the district due to the imminent threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, beginning March 16 through at least March 20. The resolution’s approval ensures continued wage payments to employees for the entire duration of the emergency closure.

Trustee Win Weber said measures such as this could help the district with retention of its hourly employees. Smith said 5,000 people are employed by the district in total.

“I see this as only fair,” at-large trustee Scott Bowen said. “[Employees are] working as hard as ever.”

Smith echoed McLarty’s sentiment that the district is fiscally strong, adding that the Texas Education Agency is continuing to provide funding to districts as if they were physically open. He and board President Laura DuPont encouraged students and parents to continue communicating with teachers, since the current setting and pace of virtual academics may be too fast for some students or too slow for others.

“I think we’ll come out of this with people realizing the value of public education,” DuPont said.

By Colleen Ferguson

Reporter, Bay Area

A native central New Yorker, Colleen worked as an editorial intern with the Cy-Fair and Lake Houston | Humble | Kingwood editions of Community Impact Newspaper before joining the Bay Area team in 2020. She covers public education, higher education, business and development news in southeast Houston. Colleen graduated in 2019 from Syracuse University and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, where she worked for the university's independent student newspaper The Daily Orange. Her degrees are in journalism and Spanish language and culture. When not chasing a story, Colleen can be found petting cats and dogs, listening to podcasts, swimming or watching true crime documentaries.