Forney ISD prepares for non-virtual future

During its virtual regular Apr. 06, 2020 meeting, the Forney Independent School District Board met to discuss life with virtual learning, how they are supporting students and parents with campuses closed, moved forward with staff raised and plans for new schools.

  • U.S. Flag - Secondary Student-of-the-Month, Rachel Trainor, 8th Grade Student at Brown Middle School: Principal Pamelia Lutrull said Rachel a rock star, everyone can count on her, is very responsible. 
  • Texas Flag - Elementary Student-of-the-Month, Amelia Thomas, 4th Grade Student at Claybon Elementary: Principal Kristie Crabtree said she's the definition of a ray of sunshine, definitely a driver on the Claybon Energy Bus.
  • Public Comment - during this time, public is not permitted to speak, but had the ability to submit comments; none were received.
  • Monthly Financial Report
    Mr. John Chase, Chief Financial Officer, said revenue at 83% expected, expenses 65% of budget.  Estimated revenue is a bit higher than years past, as sold bonds, but when it's updated for next month will be more in line.  Debt service: made semi-annual payments in Feb, revenue at 98% and expenses 100%, in line with prior years.  Cash on hand: 153 million, as just sold bonds.
  • District Operations/Virtual Learning Update
        Dr. Justin Terry, Superintendent of Schools, said had to make many changes.  Ms. Morisak gave a technology update: switched to badging systems, allowing them to manage personnel.  Tech Hubs at Rhea and Smith to distribute chromebooks - 81% of students (9719) have them.  They hand-delivered some chromebooks.  Staff is able to use their cell phones to call parents from FISD numbers.  They have a virtual support hotline.
        Counselors set up a 24-hr mental health hotline, voluntarily, plus individual counseling meetings (virtual).  Delivering Grab and Go Meals to homes, also dual-credit packets.
        Dr. Judy Webber, Chief of Learner Services, said this would not have been easy without switching to chromebooks years ago.  Pre-K students do not have chromebooks, they were provided cirriculums and supplies.  K-3 have a dual-mode system, originally were by email, now have activities on virtual learning website.  K-4: teachers created shared choice boards, to help home learning concepts.  Grades 5-12 teachers are holding live tutorials with class periods, teaching through Canvas.  Art students may not have supplies at home, so they used a webquest to investigate art forms. 
        Special Education students have a specific speech therapy section on Canvas, individual task bags were created for students to meet IEP goals.
        Mr. Rick Geer bragged on SRO's who have been helping with resource hubs, and also monitoring facilities 24x7.  Virtual kindergarden roundup Apr 7.  Hosted a virtual job fair, preparing for 2021 school year.  They held video interviews, 37 of applicants went to second round of interviews.
        Ms. Kristin Zastoupil spoke about Resource Hubs in 4 location - grab-and-go meals: 2400 / day; backpack program with Forney Food Pantry contains meals for a week.  Working with area churches, gave out food boxes, school supplies; each contains enough for family of 4 for a week.  Communications: using all available options: phone, email, text, mobile app, website, US mail.
        Dr. Terry said he's amazed and proud of job staff has done in just 4 weeks, thanks to prior decisions by board it moved quickly.  The goal is to be the joy, not the burden, for parents.  They put relationships first.
        Pres. Pharris thanked staff for stepping up to the challenge.
  • Master Planning Update
        Ms. Kim Morisak, Chief of Information, Innovative and Technology Services introduced Von Gallagher - punch lists are complete at Blackburn, Crosby, Henderson; the shelters have passed inspection.  Admin building: phase one is completed.  Work has started on FHS culinary.  New site Jackson and Rhodes - starting on dirt work, temporary access roads and drainage.  Mr. Andrews asked if any contractors have not shown up - none specific to Forney, some don't want to work under current conditions.  They have allowed some groups to work on Sunday or after hours.  They have a third-part on site to take temperature tests and issue armbands to show they've been tested - contractors are very welcoming of that.
        Ms Morisak presented a design update for Tony Jackson MS and Timothy V. Rhodes IS.  Mr. Rademacher from Huckabee - have been changes from several months ago, he showed a fly-by animation.  Mr. Kip Jameson presented Griffin Elem at Devonshire, should start bidding in a month.  He introduced Kate Dunfee to present the overview - K-2 on bottom floor, 3&4 on second floor.  'The Hub' is at the center, next to entrance; glass walls on the side where visitor entrance is.  Will be able to use corridor as learning space.  Multiple classes may fit into the hub.  Differnt colors will be used for way-finding.  Small-group (2-4 person) niches in the hall will have interactive boards across from them.  Windows are 4 ft high to avoid distraction .  Dr. Terry said the upper floor will have larger group areas, 5-7 students.
  • as one consent item:

    • Approve Minutes of March 2, 2020 Board Budget Workshop
    • Approve Minutes of March 2, 2020 Regular Meeting
    • Approve Minutes of March 17, 2020 Emergency Board Meeting
    • Approve Budget Amendment
    • Statement of Impact Form(s) from Charter School(s) Could Have a Major Financial Impact on Forney ISD

      • Uplift Education
      • Universal Academy
      • Trinity Basin Preparatory

    • Approve the Closed School Waiver
    • Approve Continuation of Internet Services Contract with Peoples Communications
    • Approval of the Educator Appraisal Waiver

  • Approved middle and intermediate school bids
        Ms. Morisak introduced Mr. Fisher to present the bid results - the base bid was for 1200 students, elementary and intermediiate, alternates for shell spaces and gym/fine arts.  Budget was 111 million, slightly under budget on base bid, got favorable bids on all alternates.  Entire build-out will be 107.9 million, saving 45 million including inflation savings by not waiting to have construction in the future.
        Pres. Pharris said that savings is almost another school.
        Mr. Andrews asked about a credit to go to carrier - carrier was almost 300k cheaper than aeon direct0drive units, compared to trane and lennox.  These are 2-stage units that maintenance dept is able to service.  He verified part of the savings was by building now and not later - yes.  Mr. Carroll asked about items listed as estimates - Mr. Fisher said they are waiting on items that would not be done until fall.  Mr. Carroll asked if quotes come in higher, would they come before the board - yes, all contracts will come for approval.  Dr. Terry said the approval in January set the budget at 111.7, could do more construction.  Have sold 70 million, remainder will be sold later.  Mr. Andrews asked if getting more scope for the 107 - yes.  Dr. Terry said this was a phased project, phase 2 would have been finish-out of middle school.  Phase 3 would have been finish-out of intermediate + gym.  Proposing phases 1-3 tonight, applause to Gallagher for amazing bids.  Mr. Andrews asked if phase 2 & 3 work into schedule - Mr. Fisher said building a 315k ft building not likely to finish in 14 months, will concentrate on the base bid to be finished in Fall 2021.  Should be done with alternates in sprint of 2022.
  • Approved bids for Brown Middle School paving and security upgrades at Brown Middle School and North Forney High School
        Ms. Morisak said trying to fix the traffic problems at Brown, bid was 180k.  NFHS secure perimeter adds a bus loop to separate buses and parents/student is 406k.
  • Approved the resolution establishing criteria for accepting electronic bids or proposals
        Ms. Morisak said policy allows for electronic bids, they want board approval for a process.  Not just construction, other items such as chromebooks.  Each bid will have dedicated email addresses, to keep them sealed.  Mr. Carroll asked if this would continue after covid- Ms. Morisak said policy already allows it, this it to accept the procedure.  They would continue this later.
  • Approved authorizing superintendent to negotiate and execute agreements with the City of Forney and two landowners located adjacent to and east of Forney ISD property consisting of 229 acres, more or less, in the J. Lopez Survey, Abstract no. 286, Kaufman County, Texas, as needed in order to address drainage improvements and drainage easements related to construction of the intermediate school.
        Ms. Morisak said the city had an easement on NE corner of the property, they negotiated with two adjacent developers to upgrade the waste-water line, after which the city will abandon the easement.  Dr. Terry said this is a win for all parties.
  • Approved the resolution for grades and GPA
        Dr. Judy Webber, Chief of Learner Services, due to changes to virtual learning, this is designed for fairness.  Policy for ranking students is based on grades in 3rd 9-weeks, which completed before spring break.  Moving forward, grades will be Mastered or Not Yet Mastered.  They have turned off the grade-book.  Mr. Andrews asked if they were stopping taking grades at end of 3rd 9 weeks - 4th quarter will not have a percentage.  Ms. Webber said the last quarter won't have a percentage, the parents will need to know if student mastered and will move on.  They are working on a list that will tell parents if students aren't logging in and doing lessons.  Ranking ended with 3rd 9 weeks, this will not change that.  Dr. Terry said for equity's sake, this is used at other districts.  What's most important is if the students are learning.  A placement committee will determine if students will move to the next grade level.  They will take into account the unusual situation we're in.
  • Approved teacher salary schedule
        Mr. Chase said the March workshop preliminary budget covered the schedule, comparing to area districts, Forney was lagging a bit.  0-4 years experience will get increase of 1400 to 1600; most levels will get 1900; 31+ years will get 1400.  Pres. Pharris asked if comfortable with possible pullback in the economy; Mr. Chase said state could leave funding as it, federal stimulus has funds FISD could get, might be offset by federal plans.  In the current biennium the tax rate will be compressed, could add 1-cent to the tax rate providing 1.5 million.  Tax rate would still go down, and 1 million of that is state aid.  For 5 years have awarded retention pay, could make that contingent on available resources.  Have 3.5 million for capital projects that could be held and funds used.  Should have surplus of 9 million, planned to used for debt retirement, could use that.  Mr. Andrews said best assets are teachers, will this raise make the district competitive? Mr. Chase said when compared to area districts, were behind 300 - 2200, adding this would put FISD ahead on most districts at most levels.  Dr. Terry said have multiple layers of safety on this item, to keep staff and recruit excellent people in future.
  • Approved staff raises
        Mr. Chase said this would include administration, professional support, paraprofessional and auxiliary staff, generally 3% pay grade mid-point, totalling $800k.  Mr. Carroll asked if this cost includes approved FTE's; no, just current employees.
  • Approved regarding ratification of employment of professional contract personnel As presented by staff
  • Approved re-employment of professional contract personnel as presented by staff
  • Approved offer to acquire property consisting of approximately: (A) 0.668 acres of vacant property, (B) 2.954 acres drainage easement, and (C) 1.667 acres temporary construction easement, near the intersection of FM 740 and Hillside Drive all in the J.Lopez Survey, abstract no. 286, Kaufman County, Texas, by voluntary purchase or the use of eminent domain to condemn property if necessary.

  • Adjourned at 2042
Monday, 2020, April 6