Kerrville ISD’s board of trustees held a three-hour Zoom meeting Monday night with heavy emphasis on the COVID-19 pandemic; and how to safely re-open school and manage finances in spite of it.

Re-opening school

Initial plans were released last week labeled “Draft” and were finalized at Monday night’s meeting.

Here are the latest details.

The first day of school for students was moved from Monday, Aug. 17, to Monday, Aug. 24.

The school year, including teacher in-service, will end before Memorial Day. This was not changed.

August teacher in-service is moved to Aug. 13-21; and increased from five to eight days next month.

Aug. 12 is an earned-off day; moved from Aug. 10. Aug. 10 is now a “New Teacher Academy Day.”

Monday, Jan. 4, was an instructional day; and is now a professional development day.

At the end of next school year, the last day of teacher in-service set on June 1 was moved to August 2021.

“Flexibility is something we have to have. This is the second amendment we have made to our re-opening plan. This looks like pretty tumultuous school year,” Superintendent Dr. Mark Foust said. “We have not been together with all our teachers since last March 12.”

Hearings, budget, tax rate

Trustees approved holding the required meeting for a public hearing at 6 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 17, followed by the regular board meeting.

In addition to the public meeting, the district will have an informal community meeting on Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. in the board room.

These will be in-person meetings with attendees socially distanced, and wearing masks is required.

COVID-19 update

Foust said contributing factors have been Governor’s orders, CDC guidelines and TEA guidelines (as of July 17 so far), staff questions and input, parent and student questions and input, the “KISD Commitment” plan updated July 13, and the Instructional Model Commitment Form offered to families July 15-22.

“We have a challenging set of issues, but we are focused on opening in August in whatever fashion,” Foust said. “Our plan is a ‘draft’ and we’ll continue to update it, to be flexible, and we’re requesting patience from our community.”

He listed almost two dozen resources they’ve used for decision-making, saying he relied heavily on “TEA COVID-19 School Re-opening Public Health Guidance” and “Guidance for School Re-entry” from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Others were from the state, CDC, Department of Labor and several other governmental and medical sources plus four universities, including TAMU, UT and Texas Tech, plus one in California.

The district’s safety mitigations are discussed in the related story in this issue.

They have offered parents and students choices among three “instructional models” – in-person virtual KISD 2.0; blended virtual KISD and in-person electives; and in-person.

Families were asked to submit their choices by a July deadline, so the administration could use their answers to plan for staffing.

The results were, at the elementary level, a 94.5 response rate, and 66 percent asked for “in-person” and 34 percent Virtual KISD 2.0.

At the secondary level, the response rate was 84.6 percent, with 67 percent asking for “in-person” and 33 percent VK2. Of those choosing virtual, 36 percent of those families chose “blended VK2 and in-person.”

Foust said they were pleased that such a majority chose in-person instruction.

There are many rules, so far, and they include a requirement that all grade-level students in in-person classes will wear masks. Recess, PE and electives are planned, but Foust said assemblies are not likely.

Meals will look different and no family visits will be allowed. Transportation also will look different with purposefully empty seats and required masks.

Foust emphasized compulsory attendance laws will not be waived, per TEA instruction.

“Virtual KISD is not a substitute for in-person learning, including the relationship-building and socialization in the classrooms on campus. Virtual learning is our best effort, but it’s not the same,” Foust told trustees.

He gave what he called a “high-level overview” of the blended virtual and in-person electives, listing some including orchestra and other music classes, UIL athletics, and ROTC. “These require adjustments to the master schedule for staffing,” he said.

The same numerical grading is required by TEA for both virtual and in-person classwork.

Asked by trustees about the district supply of electronic devices for students, he said their spring supply has been inventoried, and more iPads were on Monday’s agenda for purchase. He said they also agreed to join a TEA co-op to purchase 371 more, which may not arrive until October. Their hotspots installed by Team Mobile last spring are still available.

Budget update

Assistant Superintendent for Business Jarrett Jachade gave a budget update, telling trustees their two biggest variables are enrollment number (average daily attendance) and property values. The state is setting the district’s tax rates beginning this year. He charted the last four years of attendance, saying it’s steadily declining and the 4,467 in 2019-20 isn’t complete as that school year was cut short. The basic state allotment per student is $6,160.

Jachade’s draft 2020-21 budget lists local revenue, $28,113,000; state revenue, $11,000,000; federal revenue, $550,000, for a total of $39,663,000; and expenditures of payroll, $31,000,000; contracted services, $4,036,982; supplies, $1,840,371; and operating expenses, $2,798,825; for a total of $40,176,928 or a deficit of $513,928.

He said this is conservative and allows for a 98 percent tax collection; and they continue to work on that deficit, especially to give raises.

Bond Program update

Foust showed a Power Point of bond projects including roofs, HVAC, MEP, 21st century flex spaces, gym flooring, windows, decking renovations and awnings at various campuses; plus windows, condensate lines and roofing at Central Office.

Foust said while they are pushing very hard to have most things finished on time, a few may not be completed because of a shortage of glass for the flex spaces and other materials for awnings.

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