UPDATE (10 a.m. Jan. 18): The Houston ISD school board voted Thursday (Jan. 17) to apply for disaster assistance relief funding from the Texas Education Agency, and also unanimously approved retaining an executive coach for leadership and team-building training for trustees individually and collectively.
The board also elected Trustee Diana Davila to lead the board for the coming year. District V Trustee Sue Deigaard, who represents Bellaire and West University, was elected assistant board secretary.
After all the bills from Hurricane Harvey damage were totaled and reimbursement from insurance and federal grants came in, Houston ISD was still out $15 million in damages — so the district’s board will consider today (Jan. 17) trying to recoup some of that money from the state.
The board is holding its regular monthly meeting at 5 p.m. at district headquarters, 4400 W. 18th St.
On the agenda is an item to make an application for disaster assistance to the Texas Education Agency. If approved, it would mean the district would have to pay less in “recapture” funds — the so-called “Robin Hood” system that requires property-rich districts such as HISD to send money to Austin each year to be redistributed to property-poor school systems.
Any money recovered from the state would go into HISD’s unassigned fund balance that went into the district’s insurance reserve at the end of the last school year, when the hurricane losses were suffered.
HISD’s damage was significant — 200 schools damaged, 75 of them with major losses. Six campuses had to be located, and four schools are being completely rebuilt, including Kolter ES in Meyerland, which has been relocated to the former Gordon ES/Mandarin Chinese campus on Avenue B in Bellaire until the new campus is ready.
In another matter, the board will consider hiring a coach or team to help it function more smoothly. Trustees have had very public conflicts — frequently racially charged — and have come under fire for decisions about budgeting and an interim superintendent.
The next few months will be critical for the board as it faces a possible state takeover because of chronically low-performing schools, and it attempts to attract a new superintendent up to the challenges of running the nation’s seventh largest school district.
The meeting will be livestreamed on the district’s website.
— Charlotte Aguilar
Based in part on a news release from the Houston ISD