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Panelists Share Challenges at TASB Risk Management Fund Conference


Bus driver shortages, property coverage rate increases, and growing workers’ compensation claims were among the top concerns voiced by risk management professionals who came together recently at the 2024 TASB Risk Management Fund Conference.

“Last year was the first time at least in the past 12 years that we had to increase our deductible and also retain a percentage above the deductible just to keep our rate,” noted Bridget Chustz-Morrison, Fort Bend ISD’s risk management director, who also serves as a TASB Risk Management Fund board member.

Chustz-Morrison was part of a session titled, The Risk Management Member Challenges Panel, which was held on Tuesday, April 16, in Round Rock as part of the three-day event.

With increasing property coverage rates and ongoing coverage challenges, budget concerns are top of mind for many districts, noted Rogers ISD Director of Finance Tracie Malovets.

“Two years in a row now, we have adopted a deficit budget and that’s been hard for Rogers because before that, it was balanced every year,” said Malovets. “I have to take the time to explain to the board what's gone up and why it’s gone up.”

Along with increasing coverage rates, districts are seeing growth in the number of workers’ compensation claims, with injuries to staff being a top concern. State law entitles school district employees to paid leave when they are physically assaulted and injured in the scope of employment. But this type of leave can be one of the most challenging for districts to administer.

“My team works very closely with our leave specialists,” said Lance Nauman, Katy ISD’s director of risk management. “We try to find a way to get that employee re-engaged with the workforce so that we don’t have the extended assault leave problem of getting that person back into the classroom.”

Panelists also discussed concerns surrounding bus safety, with driver shortages being a top priority.

“Our mechanics are helping drive. Our office staff are helping to drive,” said Shannon Burns, director of risk management at East Central ISD. “Our Transportation Department has had to coordinate with campuses to stagger and change their master schedule so that they can maybe have a driver do one route and then circle back and do a second route.”

In Katy ISD, Nauman says newly developed subdivisions with narrow roads have contributed to driver safety issues. The district relies on safety cameras to monitor drivers and diagnose concerns.

“I think having installed cameras in all of our buses over the past few years has really been a big risk mitigator because our drivers are attentive,” said Nauman. “But it also protects them and it protects the district.”

Panelists also discussed their efforts to comply with House Bill 3, a school safety bill passed in 2023, which requires school districts to employ at least one commissioned peace officer at each campus and provides additional funding for campus safety measures.

In Rogers ISD, which educates approximately 900 students, with campuses located in proximity to one another, Malovets indicated that the district was able to employ only one security officer for the entire district.

“We knew that that wasn’t good enough,” said Malovets. “We had to complete the good cause exception because we couldn’t have one for every campus.”

Fort Bend ISD, which has enrolled approximately 80,000 students, was able to put funding into the safety and security measures covered by HB3 prior to the bill being passed. Chustz-Morrison said this has also posed challenges in making the best use of available grant funds.

“With the grants, the challenge is – ok, well, we’ve already got that, so how can we spend this money on what we really need,” she said. “We’re still trying to determine how best to utilize those monies.”

Fund members can access more school-based law enforcement (SBLE) articles and resources in our SBLE residency program library. For more information about the risks covered during this member panel discussion, see these articles: