KISD approves pavilion renovation, postpones election

By R. HANS MILLER | TIMES SENIOR REPORTER
Posted 3/31/20

The Katy ISD Board of Trustees approved renovation of the old L.D. Robinson Pavilion facility near the Katy ISD Education Support Complex in downtown Katy at their March 30 regular meeting. The board …

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KISD approves pavilion renovation, postpones election

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The Katy ISD Board of Trustees approved renovation of the old L.D. Robinson Pavilion facility near the Katy ISD Education Support Complex in downtown Katy at their March 30 regular meeting. The board also postponed the district’s regular trustee election to Nov. 3 in light of concerns regarding safely conducting the election in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both decisions were passed unanimously by trustees that participated in the online meeting. Trustee Bill Lacy was absent from the meeting.

Pavilion remake

The renovations would cost about $5 million and would create a new home for the district’s Early Childhood Intervention program – known as Project Tyke – as well as meeting and professional development space for the district.

“Though the program has been housed at various locations throughout the years, to see the approval of a new home for our families and children will be a great opportunity to continue providing early intervention services to our future Katy ISD students,” said ECI Program Diretor Martha Aki.

The program is currently housed in portable buildings just west of the Katy ISD Opportunity Awareness Center on the Raines High School campus. Between 300 and 400 children are served through the Project TYKE program each year for a total of about 15,000 children since the program’s initiation more than 30 years ago, Katy ISD staff said.

Renovations to the facility have been designed by VLK Architects, Inc. which is headquartered in Houston. Changes to the 25,000-square-foot facility will include refacing the building and adding four classrooms, a meeting space that can provide up to six rooms depending on how it is configured, two therapy rooms and office space for staff that will work in the facility. About 14,000 square feet will be utilized for Project TYKE and about 10,000 square feet for meeting and professional development space. The remaining 1,000 square feet would be utilized for maintenance, mechanical and other general spaces according to drawings shown during the district’s meeting.

No construction company has been identified for the project, however, the KISD Board of Trustees approved a competitive sealed bid methodology to allow construction vendors to bid on the project. This method allows bids to be submitted in sealed packages then be opened during a public opening on a scheduled date, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts website. The Comptrollers office regulates purchasing in Texas for all governmental entities. Once opened, bids and proposals are scored to determine best value and an award is made. Award of the resulting contract will need to be approved by the KISD Board of Trustees after staff have evaluated the bids.

The ECI program assists children of pre-kindergarten age with developmental disabilities to prepare to enter school with tools already in place to be successful, according to the district’s website. Assistance is provided for a variety of developmental concerns including Austism Spectrum Disorders, mobility impairments, speech difficulties and other health impairments that could negatively impact a student’s scholastic success.

“ECI Project TYKE is one program that serves children from birth to 36 months of age with developmental delays.  There are 46 ECI programs in the state of Texas serving every square inch to provide services to the smallest of Texans,” said Maria DiPetta, KISD spokesperson.

Election postponed

The KISD Board of Trustees also pushed the May 2 trustee election to Nov. 3 as was permitted by an executive order from Texas Governor Greg Abbott that allows local municipalities such as school districts and cities to postpone their elections. The order was issued March 18 and allows small governments in Texas to postpone elections to the next regularly scheduled election date – Nov. 3.

"I strongly encourage local election officials to take advantage of these waivers and postpone their elections until November," Abbott said in a press release at the time. "Right now, the state's focus is responding to COVID-19 — including social distancing and avoiding large gatherings. By delaying this election, our local election officials can assist in that effort."

The board voted in favor of the measure after discussing the details with the district’s attorney, Justin Graham. Graham explained that the delay in the election would extend the current office holders’ that are up for reelection in their roles for an additional six months. Additionally, the candidates and places on the ballots are locked in place through to the Nov. 3 election. The delay does not open the ballot for additional applicants to run for available trustee seats, he added.

Graham said incumbents and other candidates should be aware that, since the Nov. 3 election date will also include a presidential election, voter turnout will be much higher than May election dates usually are.

Board President Courtney Doyle – who is currently up for reelection – said she felt delaying the election to November was the only way to be fair to candidates given the social distancing requirements set forth by Abbott and President Donald Trump through April 30. The social distancing requirements prevent candidates from properly campaigning in the district, including distributing yard signs and having conversations with voters.

Trustees Bill Lacy and Ashley Vann also have terms ending in 2020. With the delayed election, Lacy’s faceoff with Greg Schulte at the polls will be delayed. Doyle is not running for reelection and her seat will be filled by either Leah Wilson or Michael Dillard. Vann is now running unopposed after the withdrawal of R.C. Simmons from the race in late February.

“All this does is put a pause button on the timeline, there will not be any changes to the ballot or additional candidates allowed to enter the election,” Graham said.

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