Summary Report & Media Highlights
September 18, 2017
Board of Trustees Regular Agenda:
Board Workshop Agenda
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Routine Personnel

Trustees unanimously approved action on routine personnel, in open session following an executive session.

Cover Page

Second Reading of Policy: FEC (Local) – Attendance, Attendance for Credit

Trustees heard on second reading a policy that would exempt SBISD from the so-called “90 percent rule,” which mandates that a student must have 90 percent attendance in order to pass a class. The new policy would exempt the district from that state requirement as part of SBISD’s District of Innovation status. Associate Superintendent for Academic Performance Tyler Ream told trustees that SBISD’s policy would “prioritize learning over the constraint of seat time” and that compulsory attendance “wouldn’t go away.” He said that principals like the flexibility of SBISD’s new attendance policy. The policy could be approved at the Sept. 25 regular meeting upon third and final reading.

Attendance Policy
Board Policy Website

Emergency Adoption of Policy: DEC (Local) – Leaves and Absences, Major Disaster Leave Sharing Plan

Trustees unanimously approved the creation of a Disaster Leave Sharing Pool and the resolution that enables the action. Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri said the idea of a leave sharing pool “bubbled up” from district employees who wanted to share leave days with those who need them for recovering from personal loss during a named event, in this case Hurricane Harvey. Employees can donate up to two days of leave into the pool, and a committee of central office and campus personnel will determine who qualifies to receive days from the pool. Dr. Muri said the item was deemed emergency to meet affected staff needs right now.

Leave Pool Policy

Revised 2017-2018 Academic Calendar

Dr. Muri reported that the Texas Education Agency has waived 10 attendance days missed because of Hurricane Harvey. He also said that the district has eliminated mid-term and final exams for the fall semester, scheduled for Dec. 13-14, and that secondary principals had requested that those days be full instruction days. Trustees unanimously approved the calendar adjustment. Friday, Dec. 15, remains an early dismissal day at all SBISD schools.

2017-2018 Academic Calendar

Proposed 2017 Tax Rate

Associate Superintendent of Finance Karen Wilson presented the proposed 2017 tax rate of $1.3945. The $297 million general budget was approved on June 26, based on the presumptive tax rate. The tax rate of $1.3945 includes $1.09 for the general fund and $.3045 for the debt service fund and has remained unchanged since 2010. Wilson noted that the tax bills that district property owners receive this fall reflect property values as of Jan. 1, 2017 and do not reflect damage from Hurricane Harvey. SBISD has the third lowest tax burden in the area, she said, due in large part to granting the full 20 percent Homestead Exemption.

Tax Rate Presentation

Hurricane Harvey

Dr. Muri recognized the work of SBISD staff before, during and after Hurricane Harvey, work that is still ongoing, he said. He turned the floor over to senior staff, who presented some of the work from their divisions.

Tyler Ream, Academic Performance: Had to “reboot” the school year. School had just opened on Aug. 21, the Monday before Harvey made landfall and before classes were cancelled starting on Friday, Aug.25, and schools would remain closed for two weeks. Now his division is working through all sorts of hurricane-related issues, including how to make up 10 days of instructional time.

Linda Buchman, Community Relations Officer: Continues to work with the Spring Branch Education Foundation and the Pledgecents campaign, which has raised more than $300,000 to help displaced and affected SBISD staff. Handled a multitude of communications before, during and after the storm.

Elliott Witney, Research and Design: Worked with agencies and testing companies to adjust assessment timelines.

Jennifer Blaine, Talent and Operations: Facilities were sealed up and fared very well during the storm. Transportation is working with some 300 transportation requests for students displaced by the storm, some as far away as Katy, Sugar Land, Spring and downtown. Talent (HR) has been helping with the needs of displaced and storm-affected employees.

Karen Wilson, Finance: Through Child Nutrition Services, started feeding breakfast and lunch at three sites after the storm and before schools reopened, around 335 meals a day. Still serving breakfast and lunch at many sites and seeking an extension beyond Sept. 30 for federal reimbursement. She wasn’t sure that the district would meet its $250,000 deductible for damage but thinks labor costs to prepare and recover from the storm can be a FEMA claim. The cost of textbooks lost because of Harvey may be reimbursed by TEA. TEA will also hold harmless any reduction in taxable values – through recapture payments, etc.

Christina Masick, Technology: Before the storm, moved devices up and out of harm’s way, and unplugged. After the storm moved them back and plugged them to see if they still work. No major issues.

Dr. Muri: Said that SBISD appreciated the “outstanding” support across the area, and that Region 4 Director Pam Wells and TEA Commissioner Mike Morath were outstanding and worked hard to provide districts’ needs. And he praised the SBISD community – “We asked for flexibility as we resumed school,” he said, “and the community granted that flexibility.”

November 2017 Bond Election

While pledging to remain sensitive to the needs of a rebuilding community, Trustees reaffirmed their commitment to the $898.4 million bond election on Nov. 7. Called on Monday, Aug. 21 as Hurricane Harvey was quietly forming in the Gulf of Mexico, the bond program will address facilities, CTE, technology, fine arts and transportation. The district’s bond counsel told Trustees that there was no provision for removing the proposal from the ballot. The district’s bond financial advisor said that even after running more conservative numbers he didn’t expect aggregate property values to be adversely impacted and that the district has plenty of bond capacity with no tax rate increase.

Dr. Muri said that he’s struggled with the bond conversation but that in the end, he has a commitment to do what’s “right and good for our kids” and recommended going forward with the bond election.

Trustees agreed that moving forward with the district’s long-term plan -- with sensitivity to the community’s recovery and rebuilding – was the right course of action. Trustee Pam Goodson said that the proposal, if approved, authorizes but does not obligate the district to issue bonds, allowing the district to stay flexible with its program timeline. She noted how work from the last bond likely kept some campuses from sustaining significant damage, and that with recapture taking a larger portion of the general fund, a healthy bond fund – entirely under local control – gives the district some maintenance money to recover from the next major storm.

2017 Bond Website

Closing Remarks

Dr. Muri reiterated that it was nice to be back in school, and that the week of Sept. 11-15 was the district’s first full week of the new school year.

The next scheduled meeting of the Board of Trustees will be a workshop on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017, at 6 p.m. at the Wayne F. Schaper Leadership Center, 955 Campbell.

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