Katy ISD Board President Ashley Vann steps down, trustees consider 2 percent teacher salary increase: Things to know from the May 21 meeting

Katy ISD's financial department has begun the planning process for the 2019-20 budget.

Katy ISD's financial department has begun the planning process for the 2019-20 budget.

The Katy ISD board of trustees said goodbye to members Bryan Michalsky and Charles Griffin at a work study meeting May 21. Both trustees served on the board for the last six years. New members Dawn Champagne, seat 7, and Susan Gesoff, seat 6, were officially sworn in at the meeting.

IMG_0683 New Katy ISD board members Susan Gesoff (left) and Dawn Champagne (right) were officially sworn in at the May 21 meeting. Courtesy KISD.[/caption]

Before the work study, the board held an election of officers and board President Ashley Vann announced she decided to step down as president.

"To put it simply, I'm tired y'all," Vann said. "My family's tired. The past two months have shown me a lot about myself and the one thing that I know is that the wind is out of my sails."

Trustees voted 7-0 to approve Vann's recommendation to nominate trustee Courtney Doyle to replace her as president.

Following Doyle's election as board president, trustees unanimously voted to elect Bill Lacy to the office of vice president and Vann to the office of secretary.

The board heard reports from district representatives on the district's proposed 2018-19 budget, a future early college high school campus and discussed items included in the upcoming May 29 consent agenda. Here are the details:

Teacher salary increases, department wide staffing increases
The board discussed several agenda items planned for the upcoming meeting, including taking action on budget amendments provided in the budget update, approving a contract to purchase technology security upgrades that will strengthen the district's firewall, and approving a 2 percent teacher salary increase.

The proposed 2 percent raise would equal to an additional approximate $1,230 for KISD teachers. District officials also requested the board consider approving a request to create 35 new positions over 14 departments to address growth for the 2018-19 school year.

The board will meet to take action on these items at the next meeting, Tuesday, May 29.

2018-19 budget update

District representatives updated trustees on the 2018-19 budget and said the district is still working to cut costs incurred from Hurricane Harvey.

KISD Chief Executive Officer Christopher Smith warned trustees due to the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Legislature's inaction toward addressing the school state funding system, the district may have to make tough strategic decisions to address a potential budget deficit.

"We've amended this budget like I've never seen a budget amended before, because of Hurricane Harvey," Smith said.

The district's general fund has taken a nearly $25 million hit from expenditures associated with damages incurred by Hurricane Harvey. Smith touched on renovations to the Education Support Complex that cost the district an additional $491,000 and the nearly $9 million University of Houston Annex that was purchased to house displaced Creech Elementary students.

Smith said the continued decline of state revenues have created a funding cliff and Hurricane Harvey's impact on reappraised values and property insurance premiums have also impacted the budget.

Another factor of affecting the budget is appraised value rates. Smith said the district projected appraised values would come in at 5 percent but instead saw 2.5 percent values.

"The previous 10 years, 10 years we've averaged over 9 percent," Smith said. "So two and a half percent is really tough off that average."

Smith projected the district may have a 28.4 percent budget deficit by the 2019-20 school year and a 31.5 percent deficit by the 2020-21 school year, and recommended budget reductions considerations like a strategic abandoning of programs or addressing staffing ratios.

"It shows pretty big deficits over the next couple of years…the 18-19 budget we are okay," Smith said. "[But] as long as we have things in our budget that's subject to inflation and [if] the basic allotment and those funding formulas don't increase, it's really tough to fund those."

Potential early college high school campus debated
Cazilda Steele, executive director of secondary curriculum and instruction, provided trustees with a report on a potential early college high school campus for at-risk students. Initial plans for the campus are part of the district's strategic plan to provide more opportunities for at-risk students.

The ECHS would help at-risk students obtain either an associate's degree or earn college credit.
KISD Superintendent Lance Hindt cautioned the board on taking further action on an ECHS campus and said amid the state funding crisis and the district's projected deficit, trustees should consider how a costly program like the ECHS could be for the district and be sure local universities like the University of Houston would be willing to partner with the district.

"An early college high school campus is a great opportunity for kids at the right time and at the right place," Hindt said. "I just want to make sure that before we move forward with this that we have all hurdles addressed and jumped over."

Trustees George Scott and Rebecca Fox agreed with Hindt to hold a special meeting or potential workshop to discuss a possible ECHS campus in the future.

The board will meet next on May 29 at the Education Support Complex in downtown Katy. 6301 S. Stadium Lane, Katy.