Conroe ISD's fiscal year 2020-21 tax rate, which represents a 1.42% decrease over the district's current rate, was unanimously approved by the board of trustees during its regular meeting Sept. 15.

The approved rate of $1.2125 per $100 of taxable property valuation consists of $0.9525 per $100 valuation for maintenance and operations and $0.26 per $100 valuation for debt service, as calculated by the Texas Education Agency. The tax rate will support the district's budgeted $576.99 million in general fund spending approved through its FY 2020-21 budget in August.

While the tax rate itself decreased year over year, CISD Chief Financial Officer Darrin Rice previously noted that the district's certified property values increased by more than 5.7% since last year, meaning some homeowners with higher valuations may pay more in taxes this tax year. According to district information, certified values in CISD have increased by an average of 7.14% annually since 2010.

Prior to passing the district's new tax rate, trustees also discussed CISD's asynchronous instructional plan for the 2020-21 school year. The plan is a new requirement mandated by the TEA this year in order for districts to receive a waiver for full funding based on average daily attendance while allowing portions of the student body remain remote, asynchronous learners.

Deputy superintendent Chris Hines said the district opted for its chosen asynchronous model for remote learners to allow for additional flexibility for students and educators. Additional adaptability provided through the asynchronous plan includes options for periods of live, synchronous class when desired in addition to self-paced lessons and preassigned or after-hours work based on student preferences, Hines said.

The plan was developed by a team of more than a dozen district staff members and focuses on four components aimed at meeting the TEA's requirements including the new instructional schedule, design of materials, student progress and implementation.

After presentations by Hines and Jeff Fuller, the district's director of school improvement and leadership transformation, Superintendent Curtis Null also noted the necessity of the temporary plan for the district's finances and operations in supporting the nearly one-third of CISD students enrolled remotely this fall.

“It’s for funding purposes, but really what it is, is it’s to allow us to have online school. Without approving this plan, we would be contacting 20,000 families saying, ‘You now have to return face-to-face whether you want to or not,'" Null said. “They’ve never allowed us to have online education in the past, and there is no mechanism for them to allow us to have it in the future. This is a one-year only proposition.”

After the board approved the asynchronous learning plan, Hines also shared an update on the district's planning for the opening of Hope Elementary School in August 2021 and the rezoning process associated with the new Caney Creek feeder zone campus. Hines said a staff attendance boundary committee had been formed to consider the 950-student elementary school's attendance zones and that community feedback will be solicited throughout the fall before final zoning recommendations are shared with the board in January.