New education reform bills and their implementation remain a key focus for superintendents across the state of Texas. That includes Huntsville ISD leader Dr. Scott Sheppard. 

During a brief meeting of the HISD Board of Trustees on Tuesday, Sheppard took time to reassure the board, staff and the community that his staff is working “diligently to go through all of the bills passed by the legislature,” including House Bill 3.

House Bill 3, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott last week, will increase the state’s allotment to local districts per student by about 20%, from $5,140 to $6,160. It also finances free full-day pre-K programs for 4-year-olds using state funds, and is expected to lower property tax rates by about 8 cents per $100 valuation in 2020, while also providing pay bumps for teachers and staff.

Some superintendents, however, have expressed concern that while districts’ projected revenue will now have to accommodate for expenditures such as pay raises, uncertainty remains about whether school financing efforts could change again in future sessions.

“We are certainly committed to rewarding our employees with more than what the law requires,” Sheppard told the board. “We will be working on the budget for the next few months on compensation increases, we just want to let our folks know that it is coming.”

Huntsville ISD works on a September 1 fiscal year, as opposed to other school districts across the state that begin their fiscal year on July 1. Sheppard said that this will delay the news of compensation increases while the trustees work on finalizing the budget.

Trustees extend K12 contract

In other business, trustees gave Sheppard unanimous approval for a two-month contract extension with K12 Virtual Schools, which provides services for the Texas Online Preparatory School program within the district.

The program provides students in grades 3–12 with an education online curriculum customized to individual student needs. To attend, students in grades 3–8 must have been promoted to their current grade level, satisfied all attendance requirements, and have satisfactory scores on STAAR assessments. High school students should be on track to graduate and have satisfactory scores on EOC assessments.

“K12 is making a good faith effort to negotiate a new contract that will be better for the district,” Sheppard said. “I didn’t want to rush the contract, so we need some additional time to finalize the new funding template.”

The next scheduled meeting of the Huntsville ISD Board of Trustees is scheduled for July 18 at the Hawkins Administration Building.