Katy ISD discusses security, names new school

As the school year warms up, Katy ISD is looking to hire eight police officers and spend about $1 million in security improvements to 16 elementary schools.

Katy ISD board members also are set to approve the 2019-2020 budget at its Monday, Aug. 26, meeting.

Also at a workshop held Monday, Aug. 19, Katy Independent School District Superintendent Ken Gregorski announced a committee recommended naming the district’s ninth high school after the Jordan family. The Jordans’ ancestors first moved to the area in 1913, and dozens of family members attended the meeting.

Gregorksi said the Jordans have contributed to Katy ISD for five generations, with Hank Jordan, a pioneer in the community, serving as a school board trustee from 1932-1939.

Five of his great-grandchildren have been honored as Teachers of the Year at the district.

“Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, Katy ISD will have 11 Jordan family members teaching in its schools,” Gregorski said.

Final approval of the name is expected to be an agenda item at the Aug. 26 meeting.

On the topic of campus security, Brian Schuss, chief human resources officer, said the additional police would increase visibility at junior high and elementary schools.

Additionally, a separate agenda item calls for $1.1 million to upgrade alarm systems, access control and secured entry at 16 elementary schools. Accutek was ranked first for the project. The board first approved $7 million in April for security improvements at all of the district’s campuses, and the work is expected to be completed by the fall of 2020.

Nobody spoke at the workshop during the public hearing for the budget and tax rate, which is being reduced because of state legislative changes. The total tax rate is $1.44, more than 7 cents lower than the 2018-2019 rate.

The total budget is about $988 million, and with less than $3 million projected to go into the general fund balance at the end of 19-20, Christopher Smith, chief financial officer, said he considers it a break-even budget.

It estimates 4.2 percent enrollment growth and includes funds for two new elementaries and the final grade addition to Paetow High School. District staff also received a 4 percent pay increase with a 1 percent payout for returning staff on Aug. 15 and all staff in December.

Calculating the budget was made more difficult due to House Bill 3, which was pushed through at the end of this year’s legislative session. The state’s share of funding the Katy ISD budget has increased from about 32 percent to 43 percent.

“HB3 is a big game-changer from how we calculate state funding,” Smith said.

Taking into account all of the changes to school financing, the CFO estimated a 3 percent increase in funding over last year. Because of all the changes to state funding, legislators included a stipulation that all districts would be “held harmless” if their funding did not increase by 3 percent, meaning the state would subsidize the difference if they came up short.