Kerrville ISD trustees held a regular meeting Sept. 21 that lasted more than three hours; and covered “maximum class size exemptions,” Career and Technical Education; advanced placement exams; an update on the bond issue construction and renovation; and campus improvement plans for the elementary schools.

CTE Pathways

The Career and Technical Education Department at Tivy High School responds to local and national trends to help increase post-secondary opportunities for students. Sylvia Flannery presented an outline on program offerings, and a look at the numbers of certifications students earned last school year through THS courses.

Flannery listed about two dozen certifications earned in Adobe Photoshop and Flash; American Heart Association CPR, AED and others; Automotive Service Excellence; American Welding Society; Certified Nursing Assistant; Hunter Education; Internet Core Competency; Microsoft Office Specialist programs; OSHA; ServSafe; and StartSafe, StaySafe.

Flannery also showed in a graph that since 2017-18, certifications totaled 356, then 588, then 471 when COVID-19 shut down the spring semester early. And many of the students earned more than one certification.

She said over recent years, most were gained in business and finance, construction, culinary arts and graphic design.

Maximum class size exemption

This discussion and requested trustee vote created a lengthy debate and a rare split vote, on the question of sending a letter to the Texas Education Agency to ask for a “maximum class size exception,” larger than the ratio of 22 students to each teacher.

Foust’s proposed letter said due to unanticipated student enrollment in kindergarten through third grades, KISD has exceeded the state’s 22:1 ratio at three of the four elementary campuses.

The chart shows four first-grade classes at Daniels are too large; a total of eight classes in first through third grades at Nimitz are too crowded; three classes on each of the four grade levels are too large at Starkey; and one first grade class at Tally is over the limit.

Foust’s agenda bill says, “The benefits of adding an additional class at this time of year do not outweigh the negative impact it would have on students who would be involved in district-wide class-size leveling.

“Therefore, it is the recommendation of the administration that the Board of Trustees grant approval for the submission of a ‘request for maximum class size exception’ to the Texas Education Agency.”

“This is based on two classrooms being above 22 to one. We are asking for authorization for the administration to take this request to the TEA,” he said.

Trustee discussion followed as they gave opinions or asked questions about in-person students and virtual students and how teachers are handling that split; and what the effect would be to move some students to new classrooms and teachers or have them leave in-person attendance for virtual learning as a result of this choice.

Trustee Andree Hayes was especially firm on the benefits of in-person learning and gave written copies of her opinions to other trustees as they discussed this.

Foust said the TEA doesn’t differentiate between virtual and in-person attendance, but goes by the class rosters instead.

And he added, “There was a 60-30 percent split between in-person and virtual at the beginning of school. But 80 percent are coming back for the next six weeks in person. And some are coming back to grade levels where the district will have to add a teacher.”

Finally Trustees Jack Stevens and David Sprouse moved and seconded to send Foust’s letter to the TEA; and this passed by a 6-1 vote.

Advanced Placement exams

Assistant Superintendent Heather Engstrom outlined for trustees the Advance Placement Exams and use of the College Board scores, saying the benefits include that, in general, students who earn a score of 3, 4 or 5 on AP exams perform well in subsequent college courses in like disciplines; perform well overall in their first year of college; and are more likely to graduate in four years.

She said when COVID became a factor, the tests went to 45 minutes and web-based; and were administered at the same time worldwide. And some students chose not to take the exams.

So the percentage totals of AP students with scores of 3 or more decreased to 49 percent, down over the three years before when 55 to 57 percent of AP students scored that well in 2017-19.

She had a bar graph comparing 2019 and 2020 test-takers by the subject matter they studied and took the tests for, and the highest numbers included art and design, government, English literature and composition, and music theory.

Another bar graph compared Tivy’s participation to Texas overall and to global scores, and the same high-participation subjects were noted.

2018 Bond update

Superintendent Dr. Mark Foust gave trustees an update on bond money construction projects starting with the Tivy Education Center where the ECC bus pickup area has a canopy; and new windows have been ordered for the Central Office.

He said at the Daniels, Starkey and Nimitz campuses, crews have been testing and balancing the new HVAC units, while new “flex learning spaces” are still waiting on glass.

For THS, the roof-top air handlers for the HVAC are expected to ship at the end of this month; and installation is now expected in mid-October. Again, the flex learning spaces there are waiting on glass.

Tally Elementary has a new canopy for student drop-off, and flex learning space is incomplete.

The construction on the new Hal Peterson Middle School on Loop 534 is ongoing; and Foust’s list included building concrete being complete; steel erection in the science wing; fine arts CMU and exterior walls are close to complete; the roof deck installation continues; the electives wing roof deck has been installed and framing of rooms continues; windows are installed in the electives and administration wings; tile wainscoting is being installed; and painting continues.

“Folks, it looks like a building,” Foust told trustees, and showed drone footage of the construction taken in mid-September from above and all around the school site.

Construction change orders

In a related item, Foust gave trustees information on three HPMS Construction Manager at Risk contract change orders.

Change order no. 2 addresses delays related to the incorrect installation, evaluation, removal, and re-installation of the building pad. This order proposes to move the “substantial” completion date from March 31, 2020, to May 21, 2020; and the “final” completion date to June 11, 2021.

Change order no. 3 adds $418,880 to the owner’s contingency to bring the contingency budget to the recommended 1 percent of the cost of work. This amount will be re-allocated from the FFE/Technology budget within the total HPMS project budget, and does not represent an increase in the overall project budget.

Change order No. 4 adds $326,303 from the settlement agreement to the project to pay for the plumbing and building pad site evaluation, removal and re-installation.

Trustees voted 7-0 to approve the change orders; and authorize Foust to execute the documentation.

Campus Improvement Plans

Principals from KISD’s four elementary schools gave trustees an overview of their Campus Improvement Plans.

At Daniels, they are emphasizing the third, fourth and fifth grade STAAR testing scores in reading, comparing the “meets expectations,” “masters expectations” and “growth” levels, to see if they can improve all those scores.

Their demographic summary for this school year lists 40.2 percent Hispanic, 43.2 percent white, 3.1 percent English language learners, 11.8 percent special education; 7 percent dyslexia and 4.3 percent gifted and talented.

They have 65 percent of students in person; and 35 percent learning virtually.

At Nimitz, they are tracking STAAR assessment scores for third through fifth graders in reading, math and writing to see how many meet goals, masters goals or show growth in the categories; and have compared the students’ 2019 and 2018 scores to see where improvements are needed.

They also have a split of 65 percent in-person learning, and 35-percent virtual learning.

At Starkey, they also are tracking fourth and fifth grade STAAR scores in math and reading, showing what percentage of students meets expectations, masters the skills, and shows growth in their test scores.

Also at this campus, the split of in-person and virtual learning students is 65 and 35 percent, respectively.

At Tally, student groups in third, fourth and fifth grades are being tracked in reading scores to follow their percentages of meets or masters concepts or shows growth in that subject area.

At this school, the split in students is 75 percent in-person and 25 percent virtual.

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