Photo: Courtesy Katy ISD / Courtesy Katy ISD
Kenneth “Ken” Gregorski was named superintendent of Katy Independent School District on Jan. 14. He most recently had served as the district’s acting superintendent and before that as the district’s deputy superintendent.
Gregorski brings more than 25 years experience in education to his recent appointment.
Where are you from originally?
I spent much of my young life living in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio. I moved to Texas shortly after graduating from The Ohio State University.
Do you come from a family of educators? Why did you want to be a teacher?
My dad was a blue collar worker and my mom was a homemaker. While my parents were not educators, the one thing they always impressed upon me was the value of an education. I will say that during my early school years, there were many teachers and school staff who truly invested in me, and by the time I went to college I knew that I wanted to serve in public education. I really enjoyed studying history and geography. But more importantly, I wanted to share my passion for those subjects with others and be one of those teachers who gives back and invests in students the way mine had done for me.
What did you teach in the classroom?
I began my career as an educator in 1993 in El Paso Independent School District where I served as a Social Studies teacher. I taught U.S. history, World History, and World Geography for students in 9th through 11th grades.
You have experience throughout Katy and Fort Bend County. What are the challenges these areas face?
Growth, by far, is the greatest challenge I am seeing throughout our region. I remember back in the late 1990s when I was an assistant principal and then associate principal at Katy High School, enrollment growth had already taken off. Back then Katy ISD had three high schools and now we are building high school No. 9. And this year, we have already surpassed enrollment projections with more than 80,000 students in our schools as of January. We continue to manage rapid growth through various strategies. Soon, we will likely be having discussions around the need for a future bond to build new campuses to provide relief to those reaching capacity, and to make sure that we’re taking care of aging facilities across our district.
What issues does Katy ISD face in the short term? Long term?/ Katy ISD is one of the 10 largest districts in Texas and is growing. What is the district doing to keep up?
There are a number of issues important to our students, staff and community. One that continues to stay at the forefront of all the planning we do in Katy ISD is the rapid growth throughout the community. Making sure that we are meeting our standard for providing unparalleled learning opportunities to the nearly 100,000 students our district is projected to see within the next 10 years is certainly a priority. Our students, staff, parents, businesses, faith-based leaders — our whole community, must continuously pull together to identify the best ways to serve our learners. This includes focusing our efforts on retaining quality teachers in every classroom, developing personalized learning experiences, and making certain we’re consistently meeting the diverse needs of our students. I believe that we are on the right path to ensuring these things happen with our community-driven strategic plan. It’s a blueprint for how we are going to provide the resources and tools necessary to support learning and student well-being, safety and security in our schools, and support our campus leaders and teachers through relevant professional learning.
How do you expect the Legislature to approach education spending this session?
Early reports indicate that public school finance will be a priority during the 86th legislative session. School districts need to be adequately funded to meet the educational needs of all students. Addressing funding equity by increasing the per-student allocation determined by law, and adjusting for inflation would provide for a meaningful long-term investment in public education. Additionally, since Katy ISD is a fast growth school district and no longer receives state aid to build new schools, reviewing the Existing Debt Allotment (EDA) and Instructional Facilities Allotment (IFA), which have not been updated since 1999, would provide real tax relief to Katy ISD taxpayers.
What is the focus of your doctoral thesis at Texas A&M University-Commerce?
My dissertation is in the early stages of development and centers upon mentoring experiences of school superintendents.