The district continues to respond to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic, with the Board of Trustees meeting remotely for its April 16 Agenda Review meeting. In addition to COVID-19, the Board discussed remote learning, bond sales, and construction.

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District waits for Governor, county regarding public health orders for COVID-19 response

As schools and buildings remain closed until at least May 4, Trustees discussed the district’s continued response to COVID-19, considering the impact on the district’s temporary grading policy approved on March 31, graduation celebrations, and determining when schools will open.

“I’m in awe daily by the heroic efforts of our parents and teachers,” Board President Trish Bode said. “We are better together, even when we are virtual. Even though we are in uncharted territory, we are going to keep moving forward because our foundation is still the same.”

Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D. provided COVID-19 updates covering: child nutrition, health services, remote instruction, hiring, communication, counseling services, construction, facilities, and finance.

Trustees discussed the impacts of college admission through the district’s temporary pass-incomplete grading system, considering how school districts are adopting different grading policies in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“I think this is something the state is going to have to weigh in and level the playing field,” Trustee Jim MacKay said. “At the end of the day, an unfair advantage for any student needs to be addressed. How do we raise this concern?” 

The LISD teaching and learning team has been working with the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and higher education institutions to make the best decision for the district, Gearing said.

“We are working to make sure how we operate doesn’t hurt our students in their post-graduation pursuits,” Gearing said. “We made a good decision regarding grades for the majority of our students. We will continue to work with the situations that arise based on the temporary grading policy on a case-by-case basis. The only way to make this fair for everyone is if the state steps in and tells us how to make this work.”

Working with both the H-E-B Center in Cedar Park and various partners offering virtual graduation celebrations, we may have multiple different ways and opportunities to celebrate our graduates, Assistant Superintendent of Campus Activities and Support John Graham said. The district is working with high school principals and awaiting decisions from the state, as well as Travis and Williamson counties.

The district will publish its Update 22 on the COVID-19 response effort on Friday after Governor Greg Abbott’s press conference when he is expected to announce an update to the state’s response to the pandemic.

Teaching and Learning team presents an overview from Remote Learning Phase 2 

Chief Academic Officer Matt Bentz, Ed.D. presented an overview of Phase 2 of the Remote Learning plan, showcasing the district’s resources and strategies tied to learning while our school buildings are closed. 

Within our first two days of Phase 2, launched on April 6, teachers and school staff connected with 95% of students, Bentz shared. To date, we have been able to connect with nearly 99% of our students as the focus for remote learning is on relationships between teachers and students.

Board discusses bond markets, construction

The district’s finance team presented bond sale scenarios to the Board to fund construction projects tied to the 2017 bond program. They also discussed funding decisions concerning construction projects including Tarvin Elementary School (set to open in August 2021), as well as the HVAC project at Steiner Ranch Elementary School and security upgrades to Glenn, Rouse, LEO, and New Hope high schools for the 2020-21 school year. 

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