By George Slaughter
The Katy Independent School District Board of Trustees Monday appointed Nathan Fuchs executive director of the district’s maintenance & operations department, and Richard Merriman as principal for Raines Academy.
Fuchs joined the district in 2003 as an assistant project manager. He became a construction project manager the next year and continued in that role until 2016, when he was named director of maintenance and special projects.
Merriman joined the district in 2007 as a teacher and coach at both Mayde Creek Junior High School and Cardiff Junior High School. In 2012, he became assistant principal at Raines High School.
In 2015, Merriman became ninth-grade assistant principal at Katy High School. In 2016, he became associate principal at the high school.
Trustees Discuss Virtual High School Interest Survey Results
Trustees discussed the results of the district’s Virtual High School interest survey, in which 37,469 parent survey invitations were sent out and 1,238 responses, or 3%, were received.
The district said 26,332 currently enrolled district students would be eligible to attend a potential Virtual High School.
“If the board decides to move forward with exploring this option, which seems to be a consensus tonight, as a district we will also need to wait for guidance from the Texas Education Agency (TEA) on how they also would approve the district to move forward,” Dr. Ken Gregorski, superintendent of Schools, said. “I am confident that we have a course framework with the Katy Virtual School model that would allow us to deliver an excellent education model to those students and families who would like a virtual high school option.”
Board Approves Lump Sum Payment for Employees
The board approved a one-time $500 lump sum payment for full-time employees, and a one-time $250 lump sum payment for part-time employees, as a recognition of their work during the pandemic.
Board President Ashley Vann thanked staff for their work in trying times.
“A global pandemic, coupled with the recent winter freeze, has made this an extremely challenging school year for Katy ISD families and our staff members,” Vann said. “I am in awe of everyone who has gone above and beyond during these trying times.”
Employees must have begun their district employment by January 4 to be eligible for the payment. Substitutes who have worked at least 70 days during this pandemic year will receive a one-time $250 lump sum payment.
District Earns Excellence in Financial Management Award
The district’s financial services department has been recognized with an Award of Excellence in Financial Management by the Texas Association of School Business Officials.
Christopher Smith, the district’s chief financial officer, said in a news release that the process for these activities is rigorous, but illustrates the quality of work done by the financial services department staff.
“More than 85,000 students, their parents and the thousands of staff members across the district are counting on our department to ensure that the resources they need are going to be available,” Smith said. “Managing and reporting Katy ISD’s financial information in a transparent format is a high priority for the financial services department.”
Tracy Ginsburg, TASBO executive director, said expectations in Texas are high for public education agencies to manage finances properly and report those financial activities clearly.
“This new awards program reflects efforts to adopt best practices and go above and beyond minimum standards,” Ginsburg said.
Only 10 districts in Texas received this award. The district submitted documentation in 11 areas, which include:
- Budget management
- Cash management
- External staff training
- Finance department essentials
- Financial analyses and projections
- Financial reports
- Staffing and training
Other Actions Taken
In other action Monday, the board:
- Received a Katy city proclamation in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week.
- Approved a cost sharing agreement for drainage facilities with Harris County Municipal Utility District No. 171.
- Received a report on teacher incentive allotment.
- Received a report on required continuing education for board members.
- Received a report on the district’s elementary English language arts and reading program.
- Approved the Instructional Materials Allotment (IMA) and Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) Certification.
- Approved the purchase of nine preowned semi-trucks to support the logistics and transportation needs of the high school fine arts programs.
- Approved the February 2021 financial reports.
- Approved the April 2021 budget amendments.
- Approved replacement of the air handling units at Hutsell Elementary School.
- Approved proposals for the connections of portable classroom buildings at Wilson Elementary School.
- Approved a contract for the construction of vehicular stacking and driveway improvements at multiple campuses.
- Approved the March 2021 board meeting minutes.
- Received the district’s quarterly investment report.
The next board meeting is set for May 17.