The School Zone: News


Special Presentation

Outgoing Superintendent Dr. Scott Muri (center, holding award) with Trustees Josef Klam (left), Pam Goodson, Chris Vierra, Karen Peck, Chris Gonzalez, Minda Caesar and Carter Breed.

Trustees recognized Dr. Muri for his four years of service to SBISD. Separately, Trustees thanked Dr. Muri for his honesty, integrity and patience, and for his passion for service to children. He was presented with a glass statuette highlighting his particular commitment to the SBISD core value of Every Child. Dr. Muri said that even before he came to Houston four years ago to interview for the job, he saw the core values – especially Every Child – on the website and quickly learned that “they’re real” in Spring Branch. “It’s been an honor and privilege to serve (here),” he said. “I’ll always be watching Spring Branch from afar.” Dr. Muri becomes Ector County ISD superintendent on July 1.

Public Hearing

Trustees conducted a public hearing on the 2019-20 budget. Associate Superintendent of Finance Karen Wilson said information presented during the public hearing at the May 20 regular meeting was tentative and awaiting the Legislature’s passage of House Bill 3, the school finance reform bill. Wilson said that districts are still awaiting information but that she had a budget ready to move forward. Based on the district’s understanding of HB 3, the 2019-20 budget increases revenue by $30.9 million from 2019, reduces the Maintenance and Operations tax rate from $1.09 to $1.0165 and reduces an estimate recapture payment of $102 million to $35. 3 million, Wilson said. The new budget includes $12.2 million for salary increases – much of it prescribed by HB 3 – and other Board priorities The Debt Service budget continues to be healthy, she said, with an accelerated payment of $41.6 million expected this year as well as a second issuance under the 2017 Bond program of $258 million. The debt service tax rate remains at $.3045 (it was $.2845 last year under a one-time “tax swap” with the general fund).

Local resident and former SBISD Board President Wayne Schaper Sr. spoke at the public hearing, thanking Wilson and others for keeping a fund balance (reserve fund) even through lean budget years.
Public Hearing Presentation

Adoption of Policy

Trustees unanimously adopted policies DEAB (LOCAL) Compensation Plan: Wage and Hour Laws and DED (LOCAL) Compensation and Benefits: Vacations and Holidays. New or amended policies come before the board at least three times before approval. Policies are also posted on the Board’s website.
DEAB (LOCAL) Compensation Plan: Wage and Hour Laws
DED (LOCAL) Compensation and Benefits: Vacations and Holidays
Board Policy Website

Approval of FY 2019 Final Amended Budget and Designation of Fund Balances

Trustees unanimously approved the final amended FY 2019 budget and designation of fund balances.
FY 2019 Final Amended Budget and Designation of Fund Balances

Approval of FY 2020 Budget

Trustees unanimously approved the FY 2020 budget. Dr. Muri and Trustees were excited to present and approve the budget, especially one strong on compensation and board priorities. Dr. Muri thanked the Legislature and in particular SBISD’s local delegation but added that they acted because Trustees and the community stayed active and engaged. “This is one of the most exciting budgets I’ve seen in my career,” he said. While pleased with HB 3 and the SBISD FY 2020 budget, several Trustees warned that future funding of the bill hasn’t been fully developed. See more above in Public Hearing.
FY 2020 Budget Summary

Approval to Obtain Letter of Credit from Wells Fargo to Facilitate Owner Controlled Insurance Program

Trustees unanimously approved obtaining a letter of credit from Wells Fargo to facilitate the district’s Owner Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP). By maintaining its own insurance on bond projects, SBISD can save those costs – anywhere from $4-8 million – rather than essentially pay for insurance selected by a contractor for a given project.
Owner Controlled Insurance Program

Approval of Health Insurance Rates for 2019-20

Trustees unanimously approved health insurance rates for 2019-2020. Executive Director of Human Resources Karen Heeth told Trustees at the June workshop that TRS insurance costs have gone up but not by as much as in recent years, and that the district will keep TRS Active Care 1 “affordable” while offering no increase in district contribution to Active Care 2 or Active Care Select.
2019-20 TRS Active Care Proposed Rates

Approval of 2019-20 Compensation Plan

Trustees unanimously approved a compensation plan for the 2019-20 school year. Partially prescribed by HB 3 but endorsed enthusiastically by Trustees, the plan gives teachers, librarians and nurses a 6-9 percent salary increase; counselors and diagnosticians a 4-7 percent raise; and other staff not on a step plan a 4 percent raise. Dr. Muri said that he had never seen such a “compensation opportunity” in his 31 years in education. “(The plan) honors the work of everyone in the system,” he said. Trustees agreed in separate commentary from around the dias.

Approval of 2019-20 Student/Parent Handbook and Code of Conduct

Trustees unanimously approved an updated 2019-20 Student Parent Handbook and Code of Conduct. Presented over several workshop sessions, the updates include semantic changes and offer more consistency across the system.
2019-20 Student/Parent Handbook
2019-20 Code of Conduct

Approval of Board Liaison and Board Representative Assignments

Trustees unanimously approved Board liaison and Board representative assignments for the coming year. Trustees are assigned division areas to help stay current with district activities.
Liaison Assignments
Board Representative Assignments

Approval of the Board of Trustees' Professional Conferences/Training Opportunities

Trustees unanimously approved professional conferences and training opportunities for Trustees, including the Texas Association of School Board (TASB) and the Center for Reform of School Systems (CRSS).
Cover Sheet

Consent Agenda

Trustees unanimously approved the consent agenda, a collection of items considered routine and considered as a whole. Trustees can remove items from the consent agenda for separate consideration. No items were removed. Trustee Chris Gonzalez abstained from item C (10) in the contract awards..
Consent Agenda (item 8)

Approval of Jennifer Blaine as Superintendent of Schools

SBISD Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Blaine(fourth from left) with Trustees Josef Klam (left), Chris Gonzalez, Chris Vierra, Pam Goodson, Karen Peck, Minda Caesar and Carter Breed.

Trustees unanimously approved Dr. Jennifer Blaine as SBISD Superintendent of Schools. Trustees had unanimously named Blaine as sole finalist on May 31, then waited a proscribed 21-day period as mandated by state law before making it official. Blaine, formerly Associate Superintendent for Talent and Operations, has been an educator for nearly 30 years, 20 of those in SBISD as she rose through the academic and cabinet ranks. She lives in the district with her husband, Will, and their son, who attends SBISD schools.
Press Release

Closing Remarks

Dr. Muri deferred to Dr. Blaine, who ascended the dias for her first public comments as SBISD Superintendent. She thanked the host of people who’ve helped and mentored her along the way, and ended by declaring strength through unity: “We are Spring Branch,” she said. “We are family.”

The next scheduled meeting of the SBISD Board of Trustees will be a workshop on Monday, Aug. 12, 2019, at 6 p.m. at the Wayne F. Schaper Sr. Leadership Center, 955 Campbell.