In a busy post-election meeting, the Katy ISD Board of Trustees swore in two trustees, selected three new officers, authorized bond expenditures and gave the green light for a permanent virtual high …
In a busy post-election meeting, the Katy ISD Board of Trustees swore in two trustees, selected three new officers, authorized bond expenditures and gave the green light for a permanent virtual high school. These actions come after KISD saw support for the returning trustees, bonds and the virtual campus in recent weeks.
“Katy ISD has built a reputation for educational excellence and as one of the fastest-growing school districts in the State of Texas, it is our responsibility to be prepared for the arrival of new families to Katy ISD,” said KISD COO Ted Vierling, “Katy ISD currently has over 85,000 students. Demographers project that by 2026 that number will be well over 100,000 students.”
The Monday afternoon meeting began with a brief swearing-in ceremony for trustees Dawn Champagne and Rebecca Fox who won their races for the Position 7 and Position 6 trustee seats respectively. The board then, as is normal after a trustee election, selected three new officers. Greg Schulte will serve as president of the board; Lance Redmon will take on the responsibilities of vice president and Champagne will serve as the board’s secretary. Former president Ashley Vann remains on the board and will serve out the remainder of her term.
The swearing-in ceremony was followed by the naming of three new principals for district campuses. Shae Harwell will step in as principal of Wilson Elementary, while Leah Lowry will take the reins of Beck Junior High. Finally, Carrie Lowery will be principal at Katy Junior High School after Jacob LeBlanc transferred to Seven Lakes High School as that campus’s assistant principal.
Harwell has been in education since 2001 and with KISD since 2010, having served as assistant principal for Fielder and Hayes elementaries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations from Colorado State University and a Master of Education from Texas A&M – Commerce.
Lowry has been with KISD her entire career. She began as a science teacher in 2005 at Memorial Parkway Junior High. She has since worked her way up to the new position. She has a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from the University of Houston and a master of science degree in educational management from the University of Houston in Clear Lake.
Lowery began her career in education in Lubbock as an elementary teacher in 1996. She has also taught elementary at Cypress-Fairbanks ISD. She has been with KISD since 2001 and has worked her way up at various district campuses, eventually becoming assistant principal at Hutsell Elementary, then principal at Rhoads Elementary and later Bethke Elementary. She holds a bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies from Texas Tech and a master of science degree in educational management from UH-Clear Lake.
The following projects were also approved unanimously by the board after the approval by district voters of the $676 million in bond authorizations on May 1:
The overall bond package includes more than 400 campus and facility projects that include five new campuses, a transportation facility, major renovations or additions for seven campuses, security improvements, HVAC replacements, new roofing for some buildings, kitchen equipment and technology upgrades.
Trustees also voted in favor of moving forward with a new virtual high school campus. While final details are not set in stone and depend on guidance and funding from the state, the tuition-free online campus would provide another option for students and parents who prefer an online option. District staff said via a press release that more than 1,200 responses to a districtwide survey indicated that parents were interested in a virtual high school campus.
According to a KISD press release, the campus would have its own Texas Education Agency campus code, an online application process and criteria for acceptance into the program. Accepted students would need to enroll for a full school year but would be able to withdraw and return to a physical campus during the summer before the start of the next full school year. Students would still earn a GPA, class rank and quartile rank within the virtual school’s student body. Students attending the virtual campus would not be able to participate in home campus UIL or extracurricular activities.
“We have an excellent framework for a Katy ISD Virtual High School that could effectively support the delivery of unparalleled learning experiences to those students and families who may be interested in that learning option, should the state provide the necessary funding,” said KISD Superintendent Ken Gregorski.
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