The Katy ISD school board met Monday, September 18th , in a special work-study meeting to hear feedback on proposed attendance boundary modifications, to consider a proposed lower tax rate, to form a …
The Katy ISD school board met Monday, September 18th , in a special work-study meeting to hear feedback on proposed attendance boundary modifications, to consider a proposed lower tax rate, to form a committee charged with naming the district’s newest campuses and to consider a waiver application to the Texas Education Agency for elementary school campuses that exceed the allowable class size of 22 students to one teacher.
Unlike recent meetings, there were no speakers during the “public comments” portion of the meeting. The board began the meeting by convening in closed session for about an hour, to consult with the Board’s attorney on undisclosed matters.
Andrea Grooms, chief communications officer for Katy ISD, presented a preview of the results of the ongoing community feedback survey on the attendance boundary modifications associated with Junior High #18, High School #10, Haskett Junior High, Stockdick Junior High, Katy High School and Paetow High School. All affected schools are located in the rapidly-growing northwest quadrant of the school district. Grooms said that the survey had been distributed to about 1800 people potentially impacted and about 426 had responded so far. The district is aiming for at least a 33% participation rate in the survey, she said. In regard to Junior High #18, preliminary data shows that 80% of the participants felt that the attendance boundary modifications (ABM) were either positive or that they had no impact on their student; 69% would support or somewhat support the proposed ABM. For High School #10, 71% of respondents felt that the proposed ABM was either positive or had no impact on their student; 54% would support or somewhat support the proposed ABM. The survey will continue through October 11 and final results will be presented to the board at the an October meeting by COO Ted Vierling.
Trustee Dawn Champagne expressed concern about the high traffic count near some of the new schools, particularly Faldyn Elementary, along with the existing campus at Haskett Junior High. Chief Operations Officer Ted Vierling responded that the district is working with local and county officials for improvements to local roads and cited a recent meeting with Leslie Briones, Commissioner for Harris County Precinct 4. He said that the Clay Road area was a particular challenge but that the installation of a traffic light at Katy Hockley Cutoff and Clay would help ease congestion for the areas mentioned by Champagne. Vierling said that the traffic light was projected to be operational by next week; a Katy Times staffer found the light to be up and running on Tuesday, September 19th.
Chief Financial Officer Chris Smith explained the recommendations for the proposed school tax rate, which consists of two components: the Maintenance and Operations (M&O) rate and the debt service tax rate (Interest and Sinking or I&S). The proposed rates would be an M&O rate of 72.94 cents per $100.00 valuation and a debt service rate of 39 cents per $100.00 valuation, totaling $1.1194. Smith said that this new rate would be a reduction of 18.5 cents, due to the actions of the state legislature putting money toward tax compression and tax relief, and the anticipated voter approval of the increased homestead exemption. Smith called the reduction “meaningful tax relief.” These measures would save the average Katy homeowner about $562.00 per year in school taxes, he said. Smith also pointed out that the total amount paid by the average homeowner would actually be about $102.00 per year less than they paid in the 2015-2016 tax year. Smith said that the KISD tax rate was one of the lowest in the Houston area.
Grooms then asked the board to consider authorization for the superintendent to for naming advisory committees which would be tasked with proposing names for the district’s two newest campuses (Junior High #18 and High School #10). She said that typically the committees consist of five to seven parents who have been recommended by principals from the existing feeder schools, along with two board members. The committees will each meet one time to consider all proposed name submissions and the nomination process begins the day after the board approves the formation of the committees. The district will send out the nomination process via email and nominations may also be made through the district website. The nomination process is typically open for two weeks, Grooms said. Persons who may have been nominated in the past must be re-nominated; previous applications/nominations do not carry over in this process.
Human resources representatives recommended board approval for the superintendent to prepare, sign and submit a waiver application with the Texas Education Agency for elementary school campuses that exceed the allowable class size of 22 students per one teacher. The district is asking for 56 such waivers, which is down from last year’s request of 93 waivers. District officials noted that 53 of the proposed 56 waivers are for a ratio of 23 to one, and that 96% of the classes were sized at 22 students or fewer.
The next regular meeting of the board is scheduled for September 25th.