KISD swears in new trustees, adds new classes, renames pavilion at Nov. 18 meeting | #specialneeds | #kids

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor

Ashley Vann, Leah Wilson and Greg Schulte were sworn in as trustees for Katy ISD during the board’s regular Nov. 18 meeting. Afterwards the KISD Board of Trustees approved multiple measures, including adding 10 classes to the district’s curriculum.

Vann was an incumbent and won reelection after running unopposed for the position three seat on the seven-member board. The swearing-in ceremony officially placed Wilson in the position four seat and Schulte in the position five seat.

After the swearing-in, the board elected Vann as president of the board, Lance Redmon (position two) as vice president and Susan Gesoff (position six) as secretary.

Board members serve for three years and the next election is set for May 1, 2021 for positions six and seven. Registration to file for candidacy is open from Jan.. 13, 2021 tto 5 p.m. on Feb. 12, 2021 according to documentation on the district’s website.

The new courses were added at the recommendation of the district’s curriculum department which considered the content, available curriculum, staffing needs and student interest in the classes selected for addition or removal said Executive Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction Cazilda Steele. The district also considers courses’ alignment with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills test requirements and courses’ relevance to KISD’s strategic plan.

“Like last year we continue to take into account the state expectations on the development of programs of study for career and technology education,” Steele said.

The courses added to the curriculum include Mexican American Studies and African American studies, the latter of which leaders with the local KISD-student-led civil rights group Katy4Justice had indicated a desire for during and after a protest led by that group at Katy Park in June of this year.

Additional courses included Elements of Data Science Gap with a statistics course as a prerequisite; special education courses to help students on the Autism spectrum learn social skills and another to help special needs students connect to their chosen industries. The remaining courses that were added are related to technical fields, Steele said.

Board members also approved the renaming of the former L.D. Robinson Pavilion located near the district’s Education Support Complex in honor of soon-to-be retired KISD Director of Early Childhood Intervention Martha Lopez Aki. The full name will be the Martha Lopez Aki ECI Project TYKE building.

Project Teach Your Kids Early is an early childhood intervention program operated by the district that provides assistance to families with developmental delays or disabilities, according to the district’s website.

Lopez Aki has been an educator for 40 years and has been with ECI Project TYKE for 28 of those years, according to a KISD press release.

“The program has always held a special place in my heart and now with this new dedicated facility, the opportunity for success is all but limitless,” Lopez Aki said. 

Lopez Aki was selected for her leadership in the field of ECI and for her dedication to the parents and students of the district. She serves as director in the district and is also the chair of the Texas Council of ECI Program Directors Consortia. Her position in the statewide organization has allowed her to coordinate relationships between ECI directors and Texas Health and Human Services Commission ECI staff, according to a district press release. She also serves in the KISD Special Education Leadership Team and fulfils several other roles in assisting special needs students and their families.

The KISD Board of Trustees approved the remodeling of the former L.D. Robinson Pavilion in March of this year. The moniker of L.D. Robinson Pavilion was moved to the new pavilion which is part of the KISD Agricultural Sciences Center which also includes the W.E. “Billy” Morgan Rodeo Arena after that facility was completed in 2019.

The building that will be Lopez Aki’s namesake is about 25,000 square foot in size and will house the ECI program, district staff offices and meeting space for the district. Renovations are tentatively expected to be completed in January 2021.

Lopez Aki is set to retire from the district in December and continues to be supportive of the program she has headed for some time.

“Children from birth to 36 months with developmental delays or disabilities will have easy access to the resources they need to succeed, and staff members will be in a centralized location within the District,” Steele said.

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