For the first time since Hurricane Harvey visited Texas, Huffman ISD did not have to deal with storm-related emergencies at its October board meeting. After two months that have included two emergency board meetings to deal with school opening delays, school facility damage, school bus transportation issues, and a host of emergency funding issues and other storm recovery concerns, it was a welcome relief.
As a result, it was an evening of generally good news. Perhaps the best news came just before the actual board meeting at a public meeting called for the purpose of releasing Huffman ISD’s 2017 Annual Financial Management Report. Announced was the rating of Huffman ISD as “Superior” in the “Schools FIRST” evaluation, the required School Financial Accountability Rating System of Texas.
Following the public meeting, the board meeting news continued to be good:
Student enrollment and attendance for the district’s first measurement cycle from Sept. 6-29 was slightly above budgeted expectations in spite of the disruptions of Hurricane Harvey. Largely as a result, Dr. Joel Nolte, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, explained that the district has exempted itself from its own class size guidelines of a 22-to-1 student/teacher ratio.
“Currently we have seven classes in second grade with 23 students and five classes in fifth grade that have more than 22 students. These numbers do not force us to consider adding instructional staff at these grade levels. We will continue to monitor these classes to make sure we make efforts to not increase the enrollment in these classes,” said Nolte.
Facility and transportation recovery from the hurricane is proceeding on schedule, including completion of the new middle school gym floor now estimated to be completed by Nov. 13 and the new practice gym floor by Dec. 4.
The Transportation Services Department is also meeting all of the district’s increased demands. Reed Richard, director of maintenance and operations, highlighted the outstanding job of the entire transportation staff in spite of the challenges of the hurricane. Those challenges included a forced re-organization of the bus fleet at a temporary transportation building and modification to bus routes that included providing service for McKinney-Vento students in and out of the district. In addition, Richard noted the entire bus fleet required the replacement of batteries, starters and alternators.
In other business, the board approved the renewal of Microsoft software licensing for $32,000; a revised 2017-18 school year calendar to reflect state-approved waivers for the school days missed at the beginning of the term due to the hurricane; and a bond reimbursement resolution needed in order to maintain all planning options in the future that could arise as a result of expending monies from the general fund for Hurricane Harvey expenses.
The next board meeting will be Monday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. in the board toom of the HISD Administration Building, 24302 FM 2100.