Almost everything on the May 18 agenda for Kerrville ISD trustees was tied somehow to COVID-19, from graduation plans to changing next year’s calendar.
Superintendent Dr. Mark Foust presented for trustees a description of the “slightly different format” for Tivy High School graduation for the Class of 2020 on Friday, May 29 at 8 p.m. at Antler Stadium.
Foust said KISD officials worked on plans that would maintain every health instruction under the COVID-19 fight, including screening all participants and family members, and everyone maintaining the recommended 6-foot distance from others.
They plan to use the entire stadium for 317 graduates, to seat 320 family groups of no more than five people, in assigned seats and rows (dictated by the Texas Governor). Each family will be spaced at least six feet from others, in alternating rows on both sides of the stadium and in the end zones.
All participants must provide their own face masks and wear them when entering, exiting and moving in the stadium.
Foust said gates and seating are also tied to each family’s assigned parking lot sections and specified on their color-coded tickets. They also are asking each family to come in one vehicle.
Also, family members in at-risk groups, age 65 and older and medically fragile, should not attend in person, Foust said. They will be screening family members as they enter. Those at-risk relatives instead should view the live-stream of the ceremony. A photographer will be taking pictures at the ceremony.
No concession stands will be open.
Foust said the “no at-risk persons” direction is from the Texas Education Agency in Austin; and is worded as “should not” rather than “shall not.” But KISD officials plan to enforce this.
The graduates are not allowed to practice, by state rules this year. Foust said graduating students will park at Tivy and load busses of no more than 16 students to go to the stadium.
Students will be spaced on the field, keeping 6 feet of separation throughout the ceremony. A stage will be placed at the Holdsworth Drive end of the stadium.
When it’s over, they will have a processional back to the busses at the stadium and return to Tivy, as their families are asked to stay seated.
He said during the ceremony each graduate will get a sanitized diploma cover; and get the actual diploma back at Tivy.
Their families will be dismissed by seating sections and asked to exit through their original entry gate, to return to their vehicles and meet their students at Tivy.
In other items under this update, they have been working on fifth-grade graduation drive-through ceremonies, and an elementary procession and Decision Day May 21.
Senior Baccalaureate was held May 17; and some high school award ceremonies have been held.
School calendar amendment 2020-21
School officials took the already-approved 2020-21 school calendar and revised it to provide more instruction time for students next school year, as a partial recovery from the COVID-19 virus forcing on-campus classes to close in mid-March.
Foust presented this revised calendar to trustees Monday and they voted unanimously to approve this.
The first day of school for students is moved from Monday, Aug. 24 to Aug. 17.
Foust said along with other changes he proposed, this adds five instructional days, from 176 to 181, by adding three new instructional days and making two professional development days instructional days instead.
One of the new class days was a bad weather make-up day, and Foust said the district will use “instructional minutes” in excess of the state requirement to account for lost class time in the event of a weather-related school closure.
Teacher In-Service week is moved from Aug. 17-21 to Aug. 11-14.
Unchanged are these holidays and closures: Labor Day (a professional development day); Thanksgiving week; Christmas holiday; Spring Break, Good Friday and Memorial Day.
The last day of school is moved from June 4 to May 28, he said; and the last day of teacher service is moved from June 7 to June 1 which is a professional development day.
District of Innovation Plan amendment
In this related topic, Foust asked trustees to amend the District of Innovation plan in the “School start date” section. This came in response to the school closure March 23-May 29 due to the virus.
This part of the Texas Education Code deals with school start dates; and Foust proposed adding: “In the instance of extended school closure (i.e. COVID-19) KISD will adopt a calendar with a start date prior to the fourth Monday of August, but not before the first week of August.” Trustees approved this 7-0.
Bond program update
Foust outlined ongoing renovations and construction, including roofs, HVAC, MEP; and upgrades to bathrooms, walkway canopies, decking, “flex space” construction, floor replacements, and concrete repairs.
“If there is one positive under COVID-19, it is that crews could get into spaces at the schools sooner,” he said.
He topped these descriptions with drone videos and aerial photos of the new Hal Peterson Middle School construction site, showing the progress the contractors are making from one week to the next.
Jarrett Jachade, administrator for finance, joined Foust in describing unsettled factors in setting the new budget, including COVID-19 expenses, the state’s new rules on property values’ relationship to tax rates, and new property appraisals.
Jachade said increased property tax values now lead to lower tax rates due to “tax compression.”
They foresee a decrease of 40 students in average daily attendance, which affects the amount of state funding they get. Also they have virus-expenses.
Jachade said they want to continue increasing the district’s contribution to employees’ healthcare.
The current tax rate is $1.17 per $100 valuation, with $.97 of that going to maintenance and operations and the balance to “interest and sinking” debt service.
They estimate a certified tax roll in July of $3,036,000 in property values; and local revenue of between $27.7 million and $28 million. The $300,000 difference could be a problem.
Jachade said the state will set their tax rate based on certified property values after July. So he may ask trustees to get the certified values from the Kerr Central Appraisal District first, and then adopt the budget in August, when they usually adopt the budget in July. Trustees said they’d prefer voting in August when finances are more certain.
He and Foust said their tax rate could be compressed to $1.11 per $100 valuation.
Trustees also discussed with Foust how to schedule necessary public hearings and published notices, then schedule meetings to vote.
New child nutrition lunch prices
The Child Nutrition Lunch Prices Report was given in April. The administration recommended the district increase the lunch meal price by $.25; and trustees voted Monday to approve that.
The new prices in 2020-21 will be Elementary breakfast $1.50; lunch, $2.50; Secondary breakfast, $1.50; and lunch $2.75.
New CTE courses, special ed
Administrators recommended adding 15 new courses at Tivy High School, added opportunities for students who are served through age 22 in “special education” to earn local credit while learning post-secondary and “employability” skills.”
Those courses include Community Citizenship; Consumer Mathematics; Job Skills; Recreation and Leisure; and Community-based Vocational Instruction.
Waiver of teacher evaluations
Trustees voted unanimously to send a request to TEA for a waiver of teacher evaluations. Foust said some were not done this school year when campuses closed due to the virus, so they can ask TEA for this waiver.
Oaths, re-elected board members
Re-elected trustees Jack M. Stevens Jr. and Rolinda Schmidt were sworn into office for additional terms. Foust recommended they keep the same slate of officers for 2020-21 to insure continuity in dealing with after-effects from the school year closing due to COVID-19. Trustees voted 7-0 to re-elect their current officers.