FISD looks for normal fall classes

During its virtual regular May 28, 2020 meeting, the Forney Independent School District Board met to consider budgets, construction bids and procedures, student programs for Early Literacy/Math, dual-credit, CCMR, and resuming a normal fall schedule.

  • Held a 45-minute budget workshop: Mr. Chase said projections in March were from demographer last fall and showed growth of 910 students.  DFW is slowing, but still activity here, should not be a large impact, will continue with projected growth. Have had 5% annual growth, still a reasonable estimate (leads to 16,434 students in 2025).  Added 114 personnel units to the budget, partly to adjust for previous under-hiring.  19 positions are on hold.  All 114 are a cost of 6.8 million.  Budget has competitive salaries, has a 3.1% mid-point increase for teachers. 
        Revenue: funding formula was overhauled recently, allotment went from 5140 to 6160.  There are 4 "enrichment pennies" in the tax rate is an option to add a penny to the rate, budget is built on adding that.  Overall tax rate will go down.  The "funding lag" on property taxes has be removed.  Tax collection rates are good, due to so many homes.  Total tax rate is 1.47; with 13.6% increase in property values, M&O rate will get compressed to 0.89, so total will 1.39 (including the extra penny).  1 billion in property value is under protest, KCAD has to hold protest meetings via zoom, might not get certified value in July.  If the increase is over 13.6, the M&O will be compressed more.  If increase is less, rate could go up, but will still be under the current 0.97. 
        Expenditures: Pay raise is 2.2 million.  Retention bonus is in budget at $600k, but is optional if need funds.  Facility improvements of $3.5 million, will decide in Nov. base on enrollment.  Chromebook purchases/leases will continue.
        Revenues will be up 2.5%, "low" partly due to inflated income last year, caused by TEA underpayment.  Expenditures will go up 5.1% considering all the construction.  Have about 329k overage.  Fund balance at a value of 35.7 million, will allow over 3 months operating expenses. Estimated tax rate: 0.89. 
        Food Service showed 17.% increase, but had no income for 9 weeks.
        Debt service: 10.3% increase in revenue.  Budget includes $4.1 million early bond payment; does not include bond sales in August or Jan 2021.
        Tax rate (I&S) will be $0.50.  CARES act provides funds, about $400k for Forney, but TEA will reduce state aid by that amount.
        The next biennium may result in funding cuts, but the fund balance is strong enough to get through a couple lean years.
        Public hearing on budget and tax rate: June 11.  June 29 when consider adopting budget.  Proposed tax rate on Aug. 3, which will be set by the state this year.  Adopt tax rate on Aug. 31.
        Pres. Pharris asked why the state would change the rate; Mr. Chase said 1 billion property tax under protest, so the compression rate might be different, but should be under what it is now; only the compression changes.  Mr. Regan asked about the drive-thru meals were reimbursable.  Some were, but the free-lunch student percentage is under 50%, so not allowed to give meals to all (and be reimbursed), but they were not going to turn people away.  They will have to move money from general funds to pay for it.  They were doing 1500 - 1800 meals per day, less than when school in session.  Mr. Carroll asked when need to approve the 19 employee positions on hold - Mr. Chase said those are already in the budget, but kindergarten numbers are not predictable.  Dr. Terry said they might have to add teachers for Pre-K.  Mr. Carroll asked about the optional 3.5 million in construction: Mr. Chase said will depend on enrollment, Dr. Terry said likely wouldn't do those projects until next summer. 
        Dr. Terry said this was good news in tough times, due to past decisions have flexibility to maneuver.  He thanked Mr. Chase for his work, and the board for their decisions, yielding a higher fund balance while allowing a lower tax rate.
        Pres. Pharris said can drive around and see there is still growth happening.
  • Issued certificates of election to "newly elected board members" - Greg Pharris and Scott Regan, and showed video of administering the oath of office to them.
  • Re-elected Greg Pharris as President.
  • Re-elected Chad Johnson as Vice-President.
  • Re-elected Barbara Jo Green as Secretary.
  • Accepted Crosby PTO Donation of $10,000 to the Crosby Activity Fund - Principal Lloyd Ashcraft introduced the donation, which will be used for swingsets and chromebooks.
  • Student recognition: Dr. Judy Webber, Chief of Learner Services listed the Dallas Summer Musicals nominations for awards:
    • FHS:
      • Best Musical: Seussical
      • Best Direction: Brittany Murphy
      • Best Costume Design: Brittany Murphy
      • Best Actress: Brooke Tharp as Gertrude McFuzz

    • NFHS
      • Best Choreography: Susannah Cole and Skyar Prentice
      • Best Ensemble
      • Best Actor: William Aceytuno as Sweeney Todd

    • FHS was awarded Best Costume Design and NFHS was awarded Best Choreography.  This is the first time either HS has taken home an award.

  • She then recognized participants in 2020 Forney Leadership 2.0 class.
  • Monthly Financial Report: Mr. John Chase, Chief Financial Officer said this month's 5.7 mill revenue includes 1.6 mill construction fund reimbursement.  Expenditures: 78%, comparable to previous year. 
  • Annual Report of the School Health Advisory Committee (SHAC): Ms. Stacie Brown, Coordinator of Health, Wellness & Safety said the SHAC was very successful this year.  FHS is one of 22 districts to participate in Teen Mental Health First Aid program.  Also had "Catch my Breath" anti-vaping program.  Annual health fair in Jan 23.  Moved forward on unassigned albuterol program.  From start of school until spring break saw 48,955 students; only sent home 3k, well under 5% goal.  Saw 1,500 staff.  Dispersed 19,250 medications.  Developed virtual clinics.
  • Safety & Security Update: Mr. Rick Geer, Chief of Student Services, talked about progress of new FISD PD - Chief Sanders has completed the process to be TCOLE recognized agency.  Have hired Captain Jason Saunders, should have full staff when school opens.  For 2 years have used United Protective Services for security offices at HS, plan to continue.  Safety committee has produced plans for emergencies and reunification.  Have several security projects under way.  Applied for a grant in Jan, have been awarded $180k for safety upgrades.  Required security audit will occur in summer through Sept.  Anonymous bullying app has allowed district to intervene quickly.  Have developed a threat assessment program, and hired 3 student-support counselors.  Flippen Groups taught 100% of staff in strategies and Capturing Kids' Hearts.
  • District Operations Report:
        Dr. Justin Terry, Superintendent of Schools, bragged on the staff, students and parents for having successful, unusual few months.  Governor provided guidelines for summer phased reopening; leadership staff returned on May 26.  Facilities will be open by appointment only.  Could have small groups of students and teachers in June.  Will do health screening on everyone entering during June.  Will remain virtual for summer school and teacher development.  Ms. Zastoupil spoke about graduating students twice - second being the graduation ceremonies at Globe Life Field on June 1: FHS at 2:30, NFHS at 7:30.
        Mr. Geer spoke about UIL guidelines for reopening - June 8 will start the summer athletic strengthening programs.  Fine Arts plans still being developed.
        Dr. Terry said will reevaluate during July, plan to return to a normal school year.  Evaluating health and wellness procedures at campuses; installing hand sanitizer stations.  Will have several contingency plans.
  • 2020 - 2021 Calendar Report: Ms. Kim Morisak, Chief of Information, Innovative and Technology Services said commissioner has requested districts to provide for an event causing closings, prefer a balanced calendar with intersession days.  The board moved FISD to a balanced calendar 4 years ago, which provides large breaks between quarters.  For the 171 schools days, already have 3 days for bad weather or emergency built in.  By removing a couple early release days, that added a 4th day.  Could continue school until end of first week in June 2021.  Families could know to plan vacations after that.  Dr. Terry recommended retaining existing calendar; if have to do virtual learning again, Commissioner could waive using the green days.  If Commissioner requires the extra days, easy to add this way.
  • Master Planning Update: Ms. Morisak introduced Mr. Jeff Fisher from Gallagher who spoke about the 13 ongoing projects.  Admin building ph. 1 done, starting on ph 2-4, be done end of July.  Claybon flooring in gym and cafeteria is complete, installing folding partition.  Hub is waiting on light fixtures. Criswell paving: electrical installed.  Brown Middle paving: concrete all poured, working on landscaping, done in July.  Jackson and Rhodes: rain delayed.  Rhea and Smith stages will start next week.  City Bank Stadium track and turf starting.  FHS Culinary waiting on flooring and light fixtures.  Library renovation started, done by end of July.  FHS Welding - permits in hand, will start soon.  NFHS moving dirt.  NFHS bus loop - concrete poured.  Ms. Morisak said Gallagher has done an outstanding job, some projects ahead of schedule.  Criswell is 2nd oldest building, adding bus loop, screening.  Want to add new look on outside, to brighten it.  Dr. Terry said Criswell has needed quite a bit of updating.
  • Public Comment - none.
  • Approved as one consent item:
    • Budget Amendment
    • the Purchase of Chromebooks - documents indicate this is to replace 1,500 units that are 5 years old with Acer tablets for a cost of $569,610.
    • the Waiver for Closed Preparing and Closed Instruction - documents show this is related to TEA requirements for COVID-19 closures.

  • Approved construction bids scoring matrix.
        Ms. Morisak introduced Mr. Fisher - in Feb, had issue with item "Vendor's Principal Offices being located in FISD boundaries", had to adjust: previously intex was 4th bid, about 20% higher than low bidder.  By changing item to 2 points, that's a better setup.  Von spoke to Mr. Bell who agreed with this approach.  Ms. Morisak recommended approval, as did Dr. Terry.  Ms. Green asked about moving the price from 50 to 55 points- that's part of the 8 points they removed from last item.  Mr. Carroll asked how this compares to other districts - this is just for Forney, most others don't have vendor office item as don't have enough local vendors.
  • Approved Construction Bids for 9.974 million
        Ms. Morisak said packet didn't include bid numbers, provided addendum.  Mr. Fisher said put out bids on Griffin Elementary, numbers came in very close to expectations.  Mr. Andrews asked if has seen favorable pricing due to covid - Mr. Fisher said haven't seen much inflation.  Are getting more bidders, similar to 2008 time-frame.
  • Approved readopting Goals
        Dr. Webber said had these goals for several years.  Wanted to have committees to involve a variety of people, COVID19 stopped that.  Rescheduled until fall.  Proposed re-adopting current goals until can form committees.  Dr. Terry said goals are flexible, recommends re-adoption.
  • Approved Early Literacy Board Goal
        Dr. Webber said HB 3 was extensive, included requiring board goals for early literacy and math, and CCMR; state provided guidelines.  FISD was on the way to meet goal, but will have a gap in the data.  Students will come in with a 5-month gap.  Required to report on a variety of sub-pops.  Need to adopt goals for math, expect to meet goal before 2024 deadline.  She show a graph for each campus for reading and math.  They must start with 2019 data, won't see the STAAR results of progress this year that would show good progress.  Forney is ahead of most surrounding districts.  She discussed the progress monitoring tools being used.  The State Bill requires plans, not just goals.  If the board approves the goals, they will fill-in the data during the year.  Dr. Terry said he appreciates the board understanding the situation due to lack of testing data, recommended approving the goal and would update the board during the year.
  • Approved College, Career, Military Readiness (CCMR) Board Goal
        Ms. Morisak introduced Robyn Pearce to present the data they have: they have 4 indicators from the state.  FHS has 51% completion of FAFSA; state requires all to complete in future, or obtain waiver.  College ready: 2018 data shows Forney at 46% for math and reading (fifth highest of 17 area schools).  College enrollment: Forney 61% (second highest in area).  College completion: 2008-2010 data shows 32% (third highest). They want to increase CCMR graduates meeting criteria from 66% to 94% by increasing college ready from 46% to 75%; career ready from 3% to 20%; military ready from 4% to 10%.  HB3 funds will be available for testing students.  Dual Credit programs with Eastfield and Texas Tech have expanded, as has on-campus program with Eastfield.  CTE programs will end in industry certification.  Ms. Morisak said when TX changed rules 2 years ago, lowered Forney ratings, so baseline looks low, but already well on way to meeting goals.  Dr. Terry said this is something new based on state legislation, no doubt the team will meet the goals.
  • No executive session
  • Approved ratification of employment of Professional Contract Personnel as presented.
  • Adjourned at 20:29.
Thursday, 2020, May 28