Junior high and high school students in Katy ISD will need to adhere to the district’s new cellphone and smart watch policy in the 2024-25 school year.

After some debate, KISD trustees ultimately approved updating the student code of conduct relating to cellphone policies at the June 24 board meeting. However, trustees failed to agree on how to disburse almost $1 million toward teacher pay and instead deferred it to a future meeting.

The details

According to the revised student code of conduct policy, changes in the upcoming year for age groups include:
  • Junior high students won’t be able to access their cellphones or telecommunication devices, such as smart watches, during the school day; however, they can use them during lunch on a campus-by-campus basis.
  • High school students will only be allowed to access cellphones during noninstructional times in accordance with campus rules.
  • Elementary students in grades 2-5 must keep cellphones and other telecommunication devices turned off and in their backpacks during the school day, including on district transportation.
  • Pre-K through first graders also aren’t allowed to use cellphones riding to or from school with district transportation, during tutorials or detention, or while participating in school-sponsored extracurricular activities, according to district documents.
  • Cellphones are prohibited for all age groups in restrooms and locker areas.
What else

In addition to the student code of conduct, trustees revisited a proposal from the June 17 workshop meeting that would have distributed $1 million to teachers in a one-time lump sum payment.

At the June 17 workshop, staff presented a proposal from the teacher retention committee, which included providing one-time lump sum payments to teachers based on their years of service, Community Impact reported.

While most trustees supported providing the lump sum, they disagreed on how much and who should receive the payment during the June 24 meeting. Board President Victor Perez recommended trustees meet for a workshop or lunch to discuss options on how to disperse the funding.

What they’re saying

Trustee Rebecca Fox said she wanted the teacher retention committee to compile a survey for all teachers on how they’d like the funding dispersed. The teacher retention committee gained input from about 60 educators and their colleagues on job satisfaction, but Fox said she believed the district didn't survey enough of the district's thousands of teachers.

“If we were to do a survey and include them, ... then we would have their input, and we could make decisions if they said they really care about the quality in their day and the time in their day, or whatever that looks like,” she said.

However, Perez and other trustees said they don't believe the district should do an additional survey. Perez said the board understands compensation isn’t the only contributor to teacher turnover, citing paperwork, discipline and other factors.

"This is one piece of teacher satisfaction. We know there are a lot of other important ones, and we're not trying to address everything with this one thing," he said. "This is just a compensation element—a small one—but a compensation element. That's it. It's not trying to address everything that teachers may want in terms of job satisfaction, work quality, etcetera."

Trustees Dawn Champagne and Lance Redmon agreed with doing a survey but recommended it focus on the lump sum compensation and not overall teacher satisfaction. Redmon also said he would be interested in attending a workshop as Perez recommended.

The bottom line

Due to the disagreement, trustees took no action on the item, thus deferring it.