During its April 21 Leander ISD Board of Trustees meeting, the Board:
- Celebrated the success at Naumann Elementary during Spotlight on Learning.
- Considered across-the-board salary increases for all staff, raising the minimum hourly rate.
- Received a Superintendent Update to the Challenge of 11 Books.
- Discussed the Potential of a November 2022 Bond Election.
- Approved An Additional Step Forward for a Virtual Learning Campus.
- Received a Presentation on a Partnership Between Early Childhood & The Thinkery.
- Announced the hiring of a new Chief of Schools & Innovative Strategies and Chief Communications Officer.
Spotlight on Learning: Naumann Elementary
Through a unique group that illustrates student empowerment, Naumann Elementary featured the good work of its student council in our Spotlight on Learning. From one community outreach project to the next, these Knights are spreading kindness through civic engagement!
Board Reviews Compensation Plan
In keeping with #1LISD’s strategic plan to empower staff, the district is committed to attracting, growing and retaining first-rate employees. This goal helped create a compensation plan in which staff recommended across-the-board pay raises for every staff member for the 2022-23 budget.
Our Human Resource team presented a plan and payscale that allows for all staff to receive a 2% increase. Teachers, nurses and counselors would receive an additional 1% increase if the district successfully passes a Voter-Approval Tax Rate Election (VATRE) in November with a tax rate of more than 7 pennies (For more details about managing LISD’s tax rate, read Board Briefs: April 7, 2022). The revenue generated would allow the district access to additional funds in Maintenance and Operation, making the 1% increase possible. The plan also includes a recommendation to raise the minimum hourly rate of pay for regular employees to $15/hr. and a pay increase for substitute teachers.
Central Texas is experiencing a slow down in teachers entering the profession. The plan reflected the need to adjust compensation for teachers based on increased competition for teacher talent in the market, and a notable increase in teacher turnover, some choosing to leave the profession.
Because of COVID-19 and the existing environment, our Human Resources team conducted a full review of the entire LISD system: payscale, stipend and rate of pay.
“The amount of work the staff had dedicated to the plan they presented to the Board as well as the Board’s thoughtful deliberations has helped us make significant progress on these discussions,” Board President Trish Bode said. “We want to pay teachers more while being mindful of our current financial environment and address a variety of needs across the system.”
Trustees discussed exploring incentive or in-house programs aimed at teacher retention that rewards longevity in the classroom as opposed to seeking higher pay by pursuing administrative positions.
“If we really want to talk about being leaders in this space, retaining the best teachers and recruiting the best teachers, I think we have to reimagine what this looks like,” Board Vice President Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia, Ph.D., said.
The Board will take action on the full compensation plan at its May 5 meeting.
Superintendent Updates Board on Challenge to 11 Books
During his Superintendent report, Bruce Gearing, Ed.D., provided Trustees with an update on the 11 books that were pulled from high school English Language Arts curriculum. Through the request for reconsideration of instructional materials, each book had its own committee of eight volunteers comprised of an administrator, librarian, two teachers and four parents. These committees then reviewed the books and determined outcomes for each one. More details can be found in the Superintendent Report.
Board Examines Potential Bond Election Timelines
Taking a look at the impact of the work from the Long-Range Planning Committee and the process for a Campus Facilities Advisory Committee, Trustees considered a timeline for a potential November 2022 bond election. Based on the need for continued work and the number of school-related elections anticipated on a November ballot, staff recommended a potential bond election for May 2023.
“We’re also balancing two things specifically that we’re very conscious of: lead time on these projects and rising costs,” Gearing said. “The longer we delay, the more it will cost. I know the Long-Range Planning Committee is very aware and working on the totality of putting the right facility on the ground at the right time.”
Board Approves Important Step to Move Forward with a Virtual Learning Campus
Leander ISD plans to continue its virtual learning program for the 2022–23 school year. The Board approved the submission of an application to the Texas Education Agency for a County District Campus Number. This step gives the district more options and flexibility as plans take shape.
Staff Makes Presentation on Partnership Between Early Childhood & The Thinkery
Trustees learned more about a partnership between LISD’s Early Childhood Education department and The Thinkery that has provided teachers with STEAM-based professional development. Piloted at Knowles Elementary, PreK teachers received coaching, workshops and networking. The Austin-based children’s museum also provided family engagement opportunities. Future plans include expanding the partnership to grade-level students across even more campuses.
Announcing New Leadership for Leander ISD
Trustees approved the hiring of two individuals who will take on new leadership responsibilities in district cabinet. Congratulations to Leander ISD’s Chief of Schools & Strategic Initiatives Sarah Grissom and Chief Communications Officer Crestina Hardie.