During its April 27 meeting, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees agenda included:
- Spotlight on Learning: Stiles MS
- Long-Range Planning Committee update and plan for expanded membership
- Discussing Formative Review: Safe and Innovative Learning Environments presentation
- Legislative Committee Update
- LISD Welcomes New Principal at Knowles Elementary
Spotlight on Learning: Stiles MS
The Board meeting kicked off with a Spotlight On Learning from Stiles Middle School. Spartan students showcased the Aspiring Future Leaders program, an innovative course that empowers students through a mentorship partnership with Akin Elementary School. Stiles students shared how this class has helped them grow more confident and realize they are always valued.
Way to go, Spartans!
Long-Range Planning Committee Shares Update; Application Now Open for Expanded Membership
Representatives from the Long-Range Planning Committee (LRPC) provided the Board an update from their meeting April 17.
In this meeting, the LRPC updated the committee’s mission and drafted a revised charter; laid out a plan to expand membership opportunities; and made updates to the Long-Range Plan document itself to reflect community feedback and LRPC suggestions.
The LRPC application window for 2023–24 opened today, April 28, and will close Friday, May 19. Students, parents and community members should indicate their interest through an online application listed on the Committees webpage.
“I am excited to bring students and parents onto this committee,” Board Secretary Anna Smith said. “Having a wide range of voices is crucial as we continue to try to tackle the challenges facing the district in the months and years ahead.”
The LRPC anticipates selecting approximately 20 parents/community members and 10 students to serve on the committee. All applications will be put through a blind review process and selected to ensure a balanced representation from each feeder pattern.
Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D., also took a moment to clarify misleading information included in the April edition of Community Impact, reiterating LISD’s commitment to keeping neighborhood schools open.
“The diagram in the article reflects some of our initial conversations about repurposing,” Gearing said. “But we felt it was important to point out that it does not correctly describe the current dynamic, one where we’ve listened to our community and worked with them to have an updated long-range plan that incorporates their input. We’ve said very clearly that we’re not going to close schools if our communities don’t want that.”
Related Recent Updates
- April 27: District Reiterates Commitment to Neighborhood Schools
- April 19: Update to the Long-Range Plan
- April 11: Video from Board President & Superintendent
- April 6: Beginning to Redefine Repurposing
- March 23: 10-Year Long-Range Plan Review
Formative Review: Safe & Innovative Learning Environments
In presenting a formative review of the fifth and final goal of the Strategic Plan, district administrators put a spotlight on the safe and innovative learning environments within LISD. The goal seeks to provide safe, supportive, inclusive, and innovative environments to inspire each individual learner.
Exemplifying the collaborative opportunities possible from this goal, the Special Education department’s Assistive Technology team partnered with the Leander HS robotics team to adapt toys to meet the needs of students with limb differences. Funded by a grant from LEEF, the district’s education foundation, students took toys apart and added switches and buttons to make it easier to activate the toys.
Another example of this goal in action included the Information Technology Services department forming a committee to study classroom interactive flat panels. This cross-section of teachers, principals, librarians, instructional coaches and technology employees toured numerous schools in surrounding districts to see panels in use. This field trip complemented four other meetings filled with vendor demonstrations to dig deep into what features and characteristics of an interactive flat panel the committee valued.
On the safety front, the district uses five phases of emergency planning:
Externally, many only see that fourth phase – the response to a situation – but it’s important to point out this represents only a small fraction of the work that goes into ensuring a safe learning environment for the students and staff of our district.
Through the years, the district has demonstrated a proactive approach to safety and security. As an example, the district’s two most recent bonds – 2017 and 2007 – provided funds to add secured front entrances on all campuses.
Additional items – such as resistant film on door glass and windows of entryways; improved fencing around the perimeter of campus grounds; and new door-locking hardware, to name some of the times related to safety and security – are included in the current May bond election.
While the current Texas legislative session is likely to allocate some funds to cover mandated security improvements, the Board opted to include items related to safety and security in the May bond.
“Securing the funding allows us to start work immediately if the bond passes,” said Trustee Christine Mauer, noting that proposed legislation would likely only cover a fraction of the layers of safety and security we would like to implement in LISD on top of the state’s requirements.
Previous Formative Reviews
- March 9, 2023 – Empowered Staff
- Jan. 26, 2023 – Equitable Access
- Dec. 8, 2022 – Impactful Family Engagement
- Nov. 10, 2022 – Empowered Student Learning
Legislative Committee Update
Tracking the progress of the 88th session of the Texas Legislature, the Board’s Legislative Committee shared an update on bills related to the Board-adopted Legislative Priorities.
The focus of some of these bills included:
- A special education bill intended to give students better representation and parents more of a voice in the process
- Safety and security requirements for school districts
- How property tax relief intersects with public education funding
- A school finance bill that could increase basic allotment
In addressing an increase to funding for teachers and staff – a listed priority of this Board – there are different methods the legislature can take to accomplish this. One approach receiving attention is to boost the basic allotment, the amount guaranteed to every school district for each student based on the Average Daily Attendance (ADA). The basic allotment was last adjusted to $6,160 in 2019. Reflecting on the changed economic environment in the four years since, some Trustees would like to see this number increased to match inflation.
“If you increased the basic allotment to match inflation, it’d be an increase of about $1,000,” Board President Trish Bode said. “I think it’s important to keep that number front and center as these discussions happen.”
A current bill being floated has an increase in the $150 range over a two-year period.
“As a Board, we’re focused on advocating for ways to support our students in the classroom and our teachers,” Bode added. “There’s complexity involved in any conversation that revolves around debt and school finance, but I think it’s important that we have a dialogue with our legislators and stay engaged.”
The last date of the legislative session sits just over a month away on May 29. The governor’s veto period ends June 19.
- Leander ISD Legislative Priorities
- Look Up a Bill
- Video Broadcasts – House | Video Broadcasts – Senate
- How a Bill Becomes Law
- How to Follow A Bill
- Dates of Interest | Glossary
- End of Session Deadlines
- Texas Legislature Online
LISD Welcomes New Principal at Knowles Elementary
Leander ISD is thrilled to announce the hiring of Alicia Harris for the role of Knowles Elementary School Principal, after the Board approved the hiring at Thursday’s meeting.
“Alicia is a dynamic leader who values and understands that personal relationships, coupled with high expectations in supporting student achievement, drive a positive school culture,” Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D., said. “I’m thrilled to have her returning to Leander ISD.”