During its April 8 Leander ISD Board of Trustees meeting, the Board:
- Discussed student choice book clubs and instructional materials adoption policy next steps.
- Approved the adoption of early childhood technology and instructional materials.
- Continued service for all existing hazardous bus routes for the 2021-22 school year.
- Supported TEA waivers for missed school days and 100% virtual learning as a result of the February winter storm.
- Adopted a district vision statement and superintendent evaluation tool.
- Asked the state to pay districts federal pandemic relief funds intended for schools.
- Continued planning for the 2021–22 budget, including a recommendation for unspent 2017 bond funds.
Trustees adopt district vision statement, superintendent evaluation tool
As part of the overall strategic thinking and planning process, Board members approved a new vision statement for our district:
“The #1LISD community cultivates each student individually to produce the most sought-after creators of our future world.”
“One of the best ways a school board can provide direction for the district is by clearly articulating the vision,” Board President Trish Bode said. “The Trustees’ focus on growing every child is at the heart of this vision, and I thank my colleagues for their thoughtful approach to this crucial effort.”
Trustees have been working on vision building for months, starting with their adoption of the Leander ISD Core Beliefs. The alignment of core beliefs, vision, and mission statements will be seen across the district, including in the superintendent evaluation tool, which the Board approved Thursday evening as well. The evaluation metrics include:
- Student performance
- Key performance indicators
- Management responsibilities
Next, the Board and district leadership will solidify our mission statement, which complements the vision statement (the “what” we aspire to do) with the “how” we accomplish our goals.
Discussion continues around high school student choice book clubs
After careful deliberation, the board asked the administration to work on a manual which includes criteria for the selection of instructional materials. The district will continue its review of student choice book club book selections by collaborating with more than 120 community members in our Community Curriculum Advisory Committee (CCAC). Trustees asked about the selection process for volunteers and requirements for being on the committee, including representation of marginalized groups and limiting participation to verified residents in our district boundaries.
Discussion centered on making teachers and parents feel safe to provide feedback during this process. The Board will continue its process for reviewing policies relevant to instructional materials adoption, which will be discussed in future Board meetings.
After hearing from teachers with multiple opinions on book choice over several weeks and meetings, we know we need to collect feedback from teachers, particularly high school English Language Arts (ELA) teachers, in a safe or anonymous way. The district will announce those plans to teachers in the coming days.
Board adopts early-childhood technology and instructional materials
Following a public hearing, Trustees approved the purchase of Frog Street PreK English and Dual Language curriculum resources as part of the district’s Technology and Instructional Materials Allocation (TIMA). The materials will be in place for PreK in the 2021–22 school year.
Teachers and administrators in our Early Childhood programs made materials available to any community member, placed materials on public display, and gathered input from staff, parents, community members through the Districtwide Educational Improvement Council (DWEIC) and the Community Curriculum Advisory Committee (CCAC).
Board approves district’s Hazardous Bus Routes plan for 2021–22
Current bus routes for students residing within two miles of their assigned school will remain intact for next school year. Trustees reviewed the district’s annual assessment of hazardous routes, which included the addition of two routes for 2021–22.
The state provides funding for public schools to bus students to and from campuses that are two miles or more from their home. In Leander ISD, families living closer than 2 miles from their assigned school are in the “Not Eligible for Transportation Zone,” or NETZone. Students in the NETZone are only provided bus service if their route to school is rated as hazardous.
Trustees approve TEA waiver for instructional days lost in February’s winter storm, 100% virtual instruction at five campuses
As planned, the students will not need to make up school days due to the winter storms in February. Trustees approved the district’s submission of the required waivers request to the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
Board receives update on moderate growth scenario for 2021–22 budget planning, federal pandemic relief dollars
Uncertainty looms around the pandemic, enrollment growth, and the state’s distribution plan for federal stimulus funding. Chief Financial Officer Elaine Cogburn presented a budget scenario under a “moderate growth” situation. While local appraisal districts forecast a robust increase in property tax values and demographers project a surge in enrollment, the district is preparing the 2021-2022 budget on a lower growth rate after seeing less students during the 2020-21 school year.
To avoid a situation where the district is overstaffed, our plan is to hire teachers as student enrollment justifies additional personnel. By calling families, expanding kindergarten round up to include all grade levels, and through digital advertising, we are working to get families to register as soon as possible to add clarity.
We do not know how the state will distribute the recently passed state stimulus, but history seems to suggest it could use the money to replace existing funding and not provide new money to cover the additional costs. In light of these developments:
- The Board approved a resolution asking that federal relief funds flow directly to local education agencies and that the funds supplement, not supplant, state funding.The resolution will be sent to Governor Greg Abbott, our representatives in the Texas Legislature, and the Texas Education Agency.
- Cogburn presented information on the various sources of federal funding to assist states and local education agencies in combating the Coronavirus. The report breaks down each of the funding sources and provides information on how the district has used funds received to date.
- The district’s maintenance and operations budget is seeing a decline in revenues due to lower enrollment numbers. To help fill the gap in major maintenance projects funding, the Bond Oversight Committee (BOC) presented a recommendation to use $13.5 million of interest earnings and project savings from the 2017 bond to help fund the district’s major maintenance program for the next two years.