Trustees consider 27 new Katy ISD positions, and other takeaways from the Monday, Oct. 17 board meeting

Oct. 17 Katy ISD board of trustees meeting The Katy ISD board of trustees discussed numerous agenda items during its Oct. 17 work study meeting.[/caption]

The Katy ISD board of trustees held its October work study meeting on Monday, Oct. 17.

Throughout the roughly 75-minute session, the group discussed numerous agenda items, most of which were to be considered for future board approval. Ten of 11 discussion and action items were moved to the consent agenda for next Monday’s regular board meeting, with the outlier requiring further deliberation. All seven board members as well as Superintendent Lance Hindt were in attendance.

Here are the key takeaways from the meeting.

1. A District of Innovation public hearing is planned for Tuesday, Oct. 18. 

The board announced that it will hold a public hearing Tuesday at 6 p.m. on exploring a District of Innovation designation for KISD.

State law required that the public hearing be held within 30 days of the board passing a resolution to pursue the designation, which it did at the Sept. 26 meeting. If the board decides to continue the DOI designation process after the public hearing, a committee must be formed to guide the planning aspect.

Board President Rebecca Fox said she is looking forward to receiving community feedback at Tuesday's public hearing.

"It'll give us an opportunity to demonstrate what it is and what it isn't, and then we'll hear from [the public]," she said. "We're hoping that people will come and tell us what they want."

2. District residents identified TEKS standards, local control and voucher programs as top legislative priorities in 2017. 

Andrea Grooms, KISD's chief officer for communications, governmental relations and administrative support, presented the board with a report from the district's Legislative Priorities Feedback Survey. The survey—available online between Sept. 20 and Oct. 2—was intended to gauge the community's sentiments regarding KISD's priorities heading into the next state legislative session, which begins in January.

According to the results presented by Grooms, the survey received over 3,500 responses. Top areas of concern included Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills—or TEKS—standards, local control and voucher programs.

Henry Dibrell, the board's sergeant-at-arms and the chair of the district's Legislative Priorities Advisory Committee, said he was not surprised by the survey results. In addition to convening several times in the coming months, the committee will host a town hall meeting Wednesday, Oct. 26 to allow community members to provide even more input, he said. District officials said the committee is expected to recommend official KISD legislative priorities to the board by the end of November.

"We'll present [the survey results] to the committee on Wednesday night and see what they think, and then open up the opportunity for our community to come and talk about it and see where everybody's at," Dibrell said.

3. Board members will further deliberate the creation of 25 positions in special education and ESL. They also approved two new major administrative positions. 

The board discussed but did not move to its Oct. 24 consent agenda the approval of 25 positions for English as a Second Language and special education programs. The item will require further deliberation among trustees at next Monday's meeting.

According to Chris Smith, KISD's chief financial officer, adding the teacher and support staff positions would not have a negative effect on the district's budget because the additional revenue KISD would receive from expanding ESL and special education programs would offset the costs associated with new personnel.

The board did move to next Monday's consent agenda the approval of two new positions at Hindt's recommendation: Deputy Superintendent and General Counsel.

Hindt said the Deputy Superintendent would serve as the chief administrator in his absence and work as the head liaison between several different campuses and departments, and the General Counsel would provide the district with an instrumental resource in the field of law. The positions are necessities for a district as large as KISD, he said.

"I think that it'll actually save the district money in the long term because it's going to be a realignment of duties within the district," Hindt said.

4. District performance objectives are headed for approval. 

The board agreed to the future approval of the official District and Campus Performance Objectives. The objectives—which encompass the entire district but are also broken down by individual campuses and students—emphasize year-over-year student improvement on assessments. District officials said KISD's objectives are based on standards that exceed state recommendations.

5. The budget will be amended by $1 million. 

The board also agreed to the future approval of more than $1 million in budget amendments. Included in the amendments is roughly $135,500 that would go toward the initial phase of the installation of cameras in special education classrooms.

State law mandates that cameras must be installed in special education classrooms at parental request, and KISD officials said the $135,500 would cover the number of requests to-date. The board also moved to next week's consent agenda several updates to its Board Policy Manual, one of which ensures the district complies with the special education classroom camera mandate.


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