As Killeen school officials were about to tout improvements in special education, a parent said services haven’t been delivered to her daughter.
The Killeen Independent School District administration has lacked accessibility, especially when addressing special education issues, Stephanie Moody, a parent of a special-needs student, told some 40 residents and administrators at the school board meeting.
“I still have not received a progress report regarding Sam’s (Moody’s daughter) special education services,” Moody said. “No one has responded to me in any way to explain why a report was not given in a timely manner or to tell me when I can expect a copy.”
Moody went on to say, “Additionally, I haven’t heard any response to the transfer request due to the rezoning for Samantha for next year. I thought district administration was following this, and that before the end of the school year a decision would be made. No one has responded or done anything to help improve this situation.”
Moody had spoken to board members about these issues at a previous board meeting.
Moody’s comments came just before the district made its special education update presentation that detailed the progress the district made in the last two years.
According to the report presented by Dr. Jan Peronto executive director for special education, during the 2015-2016 school year, the district conducted 1,035 initial evaluations, and 914 in 2016-17.
The district also performs evaluations on students prior to their entering the district, known as early childhood evaluations.
The district approved 54 of the 76 early childhood evaluations during the 2015-16 school year.
During the 2016-17 school year the district approved 30 of the 37 early childhood evaluations. According to Peronto, the last two years have seen every requesting student given their early childhood evaluation.
In addition, Peronto’s presentation stated the district has hired seven additional special education faculty members. Those employees included four speech therapists, one occupational therapist, one physical therapist and one orientation and mobility specialist.
None of these positions were filled prior to the 2015-16 school year.
Nearly two years ago, the Killeen Independent School District’s special education program hit a low point when the district was investigated for noncompliance with statewide regulations regarding special education.
TEA’s investigation in 2015 found that the district lacked a uniform system to track evaluations, inner-office conflicts and faulty data, which resulted in delayed services for special education students in the previous seven years.
As of January 2017, the district had reached compliance by TEA standards.
Board President Terry Delano said that while the district has made tremendous strides in its special education department, there is still room for progress and improvement.
“As Winston Churchill once said, success is never final, and we need to continue to push this program forward,” Delano said.
The district then discussed the development of the estimated $373 million fiscal year 2018 budget with Chief Financial Officer Megan Bradley.
The board unanimously approved the employee compensation plan for the 2017-2018 contract year.
District administration recommended that the board approve the Texas Association of School Board pay systems review recommendations, plus an additional 0.5 percent increase above the original modeled general pay increase of 2.0 percent. That increase increases teacher salaries by 2.5 percent.
This pay increase will cost the district a total of $7.4 million in the general fund. For teachers, the annual pay increase for this recommendation is $1,250 per year , potential equity adjustments.
In addition the district approved new teacher contracts for new faculty members. Bradley and other administration is recommended that the board approve the teacher placement schedule for the 2017-2018 school year with a starting teacher salary of $46,500. The schedule applies to teachers that will be hired this summer.
Bradley also announced that property taxes using state aid template reflect state values in the district are expected to increase by nearly 6.56 percent, which will create additional revenue for the district.