Houston ISD updates: District prepares for 41% in-person enrollment; board adopts tax rate, budget amendment

Houston ISD officials said over 40% of parents are opting to continue virtual learning for the rest of 2020. (Community Impact staff)
Houston ISD officials said over 40% of parents are opting to continue virtual learning for the rest of 2020. (Community Impact staff)

Houston ISD officials said over 40% of parents are opting to continue virtual learning for the rest of 2020. (Community Impact staff)

In its last regular board meeting before the beginning of in-person instruction Oct. 19, Houston ISD trustees approved a lower tax rate as well as a budget amendment to help the district prepare campuses for handling the return of students.

Here is a roundup of items addressed at the Oct. 8 meeting.

41% of HISD parents opt for in-person enrollment

Interim Superintendent Grenita Lathan told trustees that the district is preparing for the return to in-person instruction, with 41% of parents opting to bring their children back to campuses Oct. 19.

The district is providing campuses with personal protective equipment, cleaning materials, plexiglass dividers and other supplies to implement practices to reduce the spread of COVID-19.


On Oct. 1, the board approved a waiver that will allow the district to offer hybrid schedules at its high schools, an option that it might pursue to make it easier to spread out students on campus.

Overall enrollment sits at over 196,000, about 5% below HISD's target enrollment of 207,000, Lathan said.

The Texas Education Agency has said that it will hold districts harmless through the end of 2020 regardless of enrollment.

District deploys 53,000 devices for virtual learning

Almost half of the 105,000 laptops, tablets and hotspots ordered by the district have been deployed, officials said.

Lathan told trustees that every student that has requested a device has received one.

"If there is a blessing to COVID: We have digitized all of our kids, and that is a really big deal," board President Sue Deigaard said.

All teachers and staff who have requested devices or hot spots have been supplied as well, Lathan said.

HISD approves tax rate, budget amendment

The board also approved a slightly lower tax rate, $1.1331 per $100 valuation, for fiscal year 2020-21.

A budget amendment of $41 million was also approved, allocating funds toward COVID-19 supplies and $17 million in new special education initiatives.

The district was cited in a TEA investigation Sept. 29 for shortcomings in its handling of special education. The agency recommends that the state appoint an official to oversee improvements.

The HISD board of trustees next meets Oct. 12 for a workshop session. It will also hold a community input meeting on district goals Oct. 15.