Strong start for new school year
The first bell of the Katy Independent School District’s 2018-2019 school year rang only days ago but school district officials said the semester seems to have gotten off with a promising start.
Deputy superintendent Ken Gregorski, who is filling in for outgoing superintendent Lance Hindt at school board meetings, said the district has added 600 new teachers to the ranks with Katy ISD representing the first job in education for about 140 of them. He said the district worked with them beforehand to develop skills in subjects such as instructional strategies and classroom management.
“It was a great day of learning,” he said.
The district held new school year convocations for Katy ISD employees ranging from teachers to cafeteria workers. “It was a very positive energy. We talked about where we’re moving together as a district,” Gregorski said. “It was a great time to talk to all of our staff members.”
More than 750 students this year walked through the front doors at the just-opened Campbell Elementary and more than 780 students and staff from Creech Elementary - which was knocked out of action for a year because of the raging floodwater from Hurricane Harvey - returned back to their newly refurbished building.
“It’s a wonderful looking building. It looks brand new,” Gregorski said. “It’s awesome to have them back.”
Pattison and Golbow elementary schools, along with Mayde Creek High School, all went through extensive renovations prior to the start of the new school year. “It is tough to do a full renovation in the summer,” Gregorski said. “They look like brand new buildings.”
More than 79,000 students are now enrolled in the Katy ISD and Gregorski predicts the number will reach the 80,000 benchmark before the end of the school year. The explosive growth in student numbers prompted the district to utilize a multi-bell schedule for students so they won’t all be entering or leaving their campuses at the same time.
“It’s something that is going to work well for us as we continue into the future,” Gregorski said.
Katy ISD transport about 45 percent of general education students and 77 percent of special education students to their schools.
“We’re transporting about half of our kids every day. There are some challenges,” Gregorski said.
That challenge, he said, is particularly pronounced at elementary schools. It seems to be a combination of new elementary students, congestion at the campuses from parents dropping off their children and new bus drivers or more experienced drivers running different routes. Gregorski said they are holding daily transportation department meetings to iron out some of the kinks.
“We just ask for a little bit of patience. I think we’re going to see the fruits of our labor,” he said.
Katy ISD was one of the school districts in Texas to receive an A rating from state education officials in the new A-F rating system. Although it doesn’t tell the full story, Gregorski said it was an important piece of the accountability system.
“It’s a testament to the hard work you see in this district every day,” Gregorski said.
Katy ISD board president Courtney Doyle seconded Gregorski’s comment.
“That was no easy feat for us to achieve that A rating. There were quite a few excellent schools that did not acquire that,” she said. “It was very difficult and we should be very proud of it.”