Kerrville Independent School District trustees held a virtual meeting March 23 via computers on the Zoom app, and may have to continue meeting online after their first attempt, as school closures and students in online schooling continues. Trustees and administrators joined in the meeting via computer from their homes and offices, and the board room at the KISD Administration Building.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Foust gave board members an update on the effect of the coronavirus fight on the district, saying KISD was heavily impacted and they had to call for school closures to keep staff and students safe.
He said they had done in a matter of days, not years, what they had to do about online instruction; and he called for KISD’s closure just before the Texas Governor did the same for all state school districts.
“We have no parameters, and I cannot predict how long this will last. It’s intentionally open-ended,” Foust said.
He said everyone was very anxious to get back to normal, but they already moved “some big rocks” to provide virtual learning.
He called the online teaching “a labor of love for the kids” and said the staff quit calling last week “Spring Break” by early in the week. Wednesday is “report day” for allowing vertical communication via Zoom.
He said teachers were allowed to choose whether to report in person or virtually, while still keeping social distancing if face to face.
Training for teachers on virtual learning titled “Learning from Home” starts Thursday. Foust thanked curriculum and instruction staff and a host of teachers, as the learning site was posted on the district website Monday and Tuesday. Online the “Virtual KISD” link includes this week’s resources.
Depending on their grade level, students will be using iPads, “SeeSaw” or Office365 apps.
“We have ordered 400 cellular ‘hotspots’ from T-Mobile to be available as quickly as possible, Friday if the company can do it. But that may be optimistic.”
Foust said they surveyed students about what tech equipment they have at home; and will divide the number of iPads and laptops they have among students. “But laptops are flying off the shelves like toilet paper in Kerrville, so a delivery date for more is questionable, maybe May 1.”
Asked how the teachers feel about this home-learning effort, Foust said some teachers are fired up about this already and he’s reminded them the official start is March 30.
On meals for kids, Foust said the Food Service Department has served more than 800 meals on all listed campuses at breakfast and lunch between 7 and 9 a.m. and lunch between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. He said any person 0-18 years of age could get meals, but students had to be with a parent when they came for meals. They don’t have to go to their home campuses to participate.
“Kudos to the Food Service folks. We have amazing people at work for our community,” Foust said.
They are not delivering meals; that’s an option that must be based on their meal counts going forward.
Termination of current
tax collection contract
Foust asked trustees to vote on termination of the current tax attorney collection firm of McCreary, Veselka, Bragg & Allen in Round Rock; and approve a new contract with Perdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins and Mott, in San Antonio.
Attorney Matthew Tepper from MVBA spoke to the virtual meeting to ask trustees to table this Monday, saying more discussion was needed and Foust’s “letter of termination” to MVBA did not give them the required 30 days notice, among other points.
Those on-screen comments were trustee’s first information on this, and the later agenda discussion resulted in a rare split vote that passed Foust’s request 5-2.
The vote followed questions from at least two trustees asking for detailed answers on exactly when that termination letter was sent, and had the board’s attorney examined it first and given advice on next steps?
Foust and Assistant Supt. for Finances Jarrett Jachade described conversations with MVBA attorneys leading up to this – “terse” – or lack of response and no attorney appearances at some past hearings; and said the board’s attorney had read it and advised them on these steps.
Foust said a full-day pre-kindergarten waiver is not possible to get before the 2019-20 school year finishes, but they began by making two sections of pre-K students full-day.
He said they surveyed parents of all pre-K students and a number are interested. He and the administration intend to have all pre-K students in full-day classes for the 2020-21 school year.
Bond program update
Foust updated trustees on Bond Issue plans and expenditures, saying Package 2 plans for repairs and renovations on seven school facilities will move forward after he brings two competitive sealed proposals to the board.
Those jobs include roofing, mechanics, repairs and renovations at the four elementary schools, BT Wilson Sixth Grade, Tivy Education Center/ECC, and Tivy High School. He said much re-roofing is needed on current buildings. Meanwhile the floors and some walls are rising for the new Hal Peterson Middle School, on Loop 534.
“Both construction managers say they are continuing work with no interruptions,” Foust said.
Trustees approved 7-0 under the Consent Agenda and with no discussion, to set the tuition rate for students from outside KISD to attend in the district at $300 per year or $150 per semester.
In families with more than one child attending KISD schools, one student in the family is charged the $300, and there is no charge for the additional children in that family.
The Kerr County Tax Assessor-Collector certified unopposed candidates for two seats on the KISD board, in what would have been the May 2 election, and trustees cancelled the election for the school district.
Jack M. Stevens Jr. had filed for re-election in District 2; and Rolinda Schmidt had filed for re-election in District 5. They were certified as “unopposed for election.”
Easement, Lions Camp
Foust said a request from Texas Lions Camp concerned KISD property adjacent to the district's “Ag Facility” off Spur 100. Camp management asked for a utility easement about 20 feet wide for new electrical service.
Foust said KISD’s original agreement got a few edits at the camp offices, and district officials agreed.
A trustee asked what kind of towers were planned, asking they not be “the big ugly ones,” but Foust couldn't answer that. In turn, he said the district property would benefit from “state of the art” power connections because of this. Trustees approved this 7-0.