Staff turnover rates, installing GPS on buses and selling bonds: 6 items discussed at Feb. 18 Katy ISD meeting

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Update: The items discussed below—except for the teacher turnover rate report, which did not require an action by the board—were approved by the KISD board of trustees at the Feb. 25 meeting.

The Katy ISD board of trustees listened to a report on staff turnover rates, per the request of Superintendent Ken Gregorski, at the Feb. 18 work-study meeting.

According to the presentation given by Brian Schuss, the district’s assistant superintendent for human resources, KISD’s teacher turnover rate in 2017-18 was about 11.8 percent, in 2016-17 the rate was 12 percent and in 2015-16 the rate was 11.5 percent.

These rates over the past three years, despite Katy’s fast growth, are lower than nearby school districts, the Houston region and the state of Texas, he said. The presentation also showed the district has increased its number of teachers in the past three years from 4,883 to 5,159.

“[After discussing with board President Courtney Doyle], we decided to put a report on the agenda to show the public a true, accurate picture of the turnover of Katy ISD with a little bit more context and comparable to our neighboring districts,” Gregorski said.

When the board approved his contract for KISD superintendent Jan. 15, Gregorski said among his top priorities are hiring quality teachers through competitive pay structures and better recruitment and retainment strategies.

Additionally, the following items were discussed at the Katy ISD board of trustees meeting Feb. 18. The board will vote on these and other agenda items at the next board meeting 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25 at 6301 S. Stadium Lane, Katy.

GPS installation on bus fleet

Ted Vierling, the district’s assistant superintendent for operations, presented a plan to install GPS and diagnostic software on 422 district buses so parents and guardians can track their children’s buses through a free, web-based application.

Through the technology, the district will also be able to monitor individual buses’ speed, fuel levels and stop times to capture diagnostic information to improve safety and efficiency.

Vierling said KISD is among the last of large school districts in the Houston area that does not use GPS in their bus fleet. Currently, if the district needs to know where a bus is, it must radio all bus drivers to learn a specific bus’s location.

If the three-year contract with Education Logistics Inc. is approved, GPS hardware installation in the fleet will begin over the district’s spring break, March 11-15, Vierling said. The software will be piloted at three different elementary schools, with a full rollout at the start of the next school year in fall 2019.

The annual cost of the GPS hardware, software, parent app and installation is $202,560, for a total cost of $607,680 to the district, per the presentation.

Upcoming bond sale

District Chief Financial Officer Chris Smith gave a presentation regarding an upcoming bond sale for additional cash to complete and begin construction projects.

The sale—which will be the second of three bond sales related to the 2017 $609.2 million bond approved by voters, Smith said—will be $209.2 million and will occur this summer, according to the presentation. At the next board meeting, the trustees will vote to approve the issuance of bonds, approve Smith and Gregorski to negotiate interest and maturity rates for the sale, and approve to refund bonds if a refund can generate at least 3 percent net savings to the district.

The last bond sale occurred May 22 with $200 million in proceeds with an all-in true interest cost of 3.79 percent and an average life of about 19.44 years, per the presentation.

At the next meeting, the board will also vote to approve Smith or Gregorski to take actions related to setting a new rate period for bonds issued in April 2015 as well as to approve a resolution expressing the district’s intention for a defeasance, or redemption, up to $25 million of outstanding bonds from 2010 and 2012.

Proposed name for the Elementary School No. 42

Superintendent Ken Gregorski announced the naming advisory committee has decided to name the upcoming Elementary School No. 42—which will open for the 2019-20 school year at 2602 Winchester Ranch Trail, Katy—after Olga Leonard.

Leonard first taught at KISD in 1985 and helped to expand multiculturalism as well as bilingual and dual-language programs at the district through her work as a teacher, principal and administrator, Gregorski said.

A public forum to discuss the name will be held 6 p.m. Feb. 20 at 6301 S. Stadium Lane, Katy, Doyle confirmed at the meeting.

New property insurance program

The district administration recommended Berkshire Hathaway, through USI Insurance Services Inc., to provide the 2019-20 property insurance program, according to a presentation from Lance Nauman, the district’s director of risk management.

After reviewing storm damages and new construction, the department calculated the total insured value for the district at $1.94 billion, per the presentation. The total insured value of the district increased year-over-year due to recent bond projects and Hurricane Harvey damages, per the presentation.

If approved, the policy will cover the district’s buildings, structures and contents; physical damage to vehicles; electronic data processing and mobile equipment; musical instruments; as well as boilers and machinery, per the presentation. Additionally, the major perils included in the policy will include fire, flood, earthquake, windstorm, wind-driven rain and windstorm.

The expenditure to the district’s general fund for property insurance premiums by an estimated annual premium is expected to be about $2.2 million, per the presentation.

Design firm for Junior High School No. 17

Lisa Kassman, the district’s executive director of facilities, planning and construction, recommended the board select PBK Architects to design Junior High School No. 17, which will open for the 2020-21 school year at the southeast intersection of Clay Road and Katy Hockley Road in Katy.

PBK designed Junior High School No. 16—also known as Adams Jr. High School—which is opening in the fall at 4141 Cross Creek Bend Lane, Fulshear. The design for No. 17 will be a “refined iteration” of No. 16, per the presentation.

If approved, the cost of the design services will be 3 percent of the final construction cost, according to the presentation.

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  1. They need to install cameras on the outside of the buses to bust people who drive past a stopped school bus when picking up kids. To me that would be more beneficial than knowing diagnostic info in real-time.

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Jen Para
Jen joined Community Impact Newspaper in fall 2018. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Jen has written about business, politics and education since 2013. Prior to CI, Jen was the web producer at Houston Business Journal.
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