The Katy ISD board of trustees held its September regular meeting Monday night. Throughout the nearly 90-minute session, the group gave out recognitions, listened to reports and discussed and took action on numerous agenda items. All items were approved, with just one motion not receiving a unanimous vote. Secretary Courtney Doyle was absent from the meeting, thus giving the board just six members in attendance.
1. Legislative priorities
The board of trustees officially approved and chartered the Legislative Priorities Advisory Committee. This board subcommittee will discuss, review and develop KISD’s specific legislative priorities as the state Legislature approaches its next session beginning in January. Sergeant-at-Arms Henry Dibrell will serve as the chair of the committee, while George Scott will serve as an additional member.
Andrea Grooms, the district’s chief officer for communications, governmental relations and administrative support, gave a report on the preliminary results from a community feedback survey that will be available online until Friday, Sept. 30. KISD’s initial legislative priorities include governance, assessment, accountability and finance.
“We’re going to listen to the community, and obviously we’re going to focus on whatever their priorities are,” Dibrell said. “In talking with our current legislators from the Katy area, there are three things they’re going to talk about this legislative session that they’re going to be focused on as far as education: they’re going to talk about assessments, they’re going to talk about funding [and] they’re going to talk about [school] choice.”
2. District of innovation
The board did not move a resolution from its Sept. 19 work study meeting agenda that would initiate the processes of designating KISD as a District of Innovation under House Bill 1842 to the consent agenda section for Monday’s meeting. The item once again appeared as a discussion and action item.
While the item did pass Monday after further deliberation, it was not by unanimous decision, as Scott voted down the motion.
According to the Texas Association of School Boards, a DOI designation affords independent public school districts many of the privileges available to the state’s open-enrollment charter institutions, with benefits including local control, customization, autonomy and flexibility.
“I’m not voting against [DOI] tonight, [but] I wish we had a different process,” Scott said. “I have inherent distrust of the state of Texas. I think there are forces in the state of Texas that are envisioning already how to seize upon elements of the District of Innovation [designation] and further hurt public education overall. If I were starting this process, I’d start at a different path. I would start it by accumulating more information at the board level and then possibly starting the committee process.”
3. Second stadium update
Treasurer Bryan Michalsky, who also serves as the chair of the naming committee for the district’s second football stadium, presented the board with a brief update regarding the committee’s progress thus far.
After meeting several times, the committee has sent out a request for proposal—or RFP—in an effort to try to acquire a sponsor for either the stadium itself or the portion of the Student Activity Facility complex that encompasses the second stadium and the existing Rhodes Stadium.
Michalsky said the proposal was released Sept. 12, and responses are due Oct. 10 prior to the committee’s Oct. 12 meeting. Depending on responses and discussions, Michalsky said the committee is hoping to bring a recommendation to the board by November.
“We hope we get a good response,” he said. “We really believe that there are some businesses within our community that will have some interest in that, and we’re just hopeful that we have some good responses to evaluate and come up with the best partner for Katy ISD.”
4. Proclamations and recognitions
The board formalized two proclamations that were proposed at last week’s work study meeting. The proclamations adopt the statewide Oct. 12 Texas Education Human Resources Day and designate October as Principals Month, respectively.
The group also handed out 12 recognitions. These included the Katy Independent School District Namesakes Recognition, the Texas State Board of Education 2016 Student Hero Award (Jeremy Crabtree of Alexander Elementary School) and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Bravery Award (KISD Police Department members Chief Robert Jinks, Sergeant Justin Moyer and Detective Francisco Muniz).
5. Tax rates
The board officially adopted the district’s proposed 2016-17 property tax rates. The overall tax rate will remain at $1.5166 per $100 valuation; this includes $1.1266 for Maintenance and Operations and 39 cents for Debt Services.
The board voted to lower the Debt Services rate by 1 cent prior to the 2015-16 school year after it had remained at 40 cents since 2007-2008, while the Maintenance and Operations rate has stayed the same for 10 consecutive years.