During its Aug. 10 meeting, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees agenda included: 

Discussion of the 2023 Property Tax Rate

Tax Rate History from 2017–2014

🎬 6.C.3. Discussion of an Ordinance Adopting the 2023 Property Tax Rate

The Board reviewed a proposed total property tax rate of $1.1087, which would represent a decrease of more than 16.5 cents from the previous year and create significant tax relief for LISD property owners.

This tax rate is the combined total of $0.7787 on the maintenance and operations (M&O) side  of the tax rate, which is used to fund the district’s day-to-day expenses, along with $0.3300 on the interest and sinking (I&S) side, which pays for bond debt.

During the latest legislative session, lawmakers increased the maximum compression rate, which essentially reduces the property tax rate on the M&O side. The district is proposing a tax rate that would save homeowners $820 compared to the previous year on an average value home in LISD. 

“This proposed tax rate reflects seven consecutive years of lowering the overall tax rate,” Trustee Trish Bode said. “I’m thankful for the community’s trust and coordination with the board to allow us the opportunity to address needed revenue through recent elections, and for the Board’s work to continue improving our fiscal outlook while also offering relief to the taxpayers of our community.”

Recent legislation also provides the opportunity for additional tax relief through a proposal to increase the state’s homestead exemption from $40,000 to $100,000. This is subject to voter approval in November 2023.

Previous 2023 Property Tax Rate Updates

Board Approves Student Capacity for Elementary School Design at 800 Students

Long-Range Planning Committee (LRPC) Voting Results

🎬 6.C.2. Consider Approval of Student Capacity for Elementary School Design

Following a presentation on the options related to the student capacity of future elementary school design, the Board approved keeping the standard design at 800 students.

Continued growth in LISD – especially at the elementary level – has generated many discussions around the ideal size for elementary school buildings. This led the district to consider a variety of options, including the current 800-student design, a 1,000-student design, or a 1,000-student core design intended for 800 students.

Feedback was collected from LISD principals and reviewed by the Long-Range Planning Committee (LRPC), which then voted on a preference. These groups considered a variety of factors, including impacts to the school’s functional capacity, what programs the campus could offer, potential need for portables, being fiscally responsible and larger impacts to the district’s attendance zoning.

Ultimately, these groups decided the 800-student design was best for student learning while remaining fiscally responsible.

“When you look at the feedback, it’s nice to see the alignment with the work Trustees have done relating to the Board Vision and the Student Profile,” said Board President Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia, Ph.D. “I think that a larger school has a significant impact on the student experience with less opportunities for students. At 800 students, that aligns with the student experience we’re striving for as a Board.”

This will have an immediate impact on Elementary School 31, projected to open in Fall 2025, which is currently in its project’s design phase.

2023-24 Student Code of Conduct Approved

Code of Conduct

🎬 6.A.1. Consider Approval of 2023-2024 Student Code of Conduct

After the conclusion of this spring’s legislative session, the Board approved revisions to the Student Code of Conduct (SCOC) for the upcoming school year to ensure compliance with new state laws.

Other changes reflected recommended language updates from the Texas Association of School Board’s (TASB) Model Student Code of Conduct, technology trends to update language, or experiences in applying the code.

One of the most significant changes relates to e-cigarettes. As a result of House Bill 114, school districts are required to place a student in possession of an e-cigarette in a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program (DAEP). In Leander ISD, the DAEP is the Leander Extended Opportunity (LEO) Center. After collaborating with the LEO Center principal, there will be a separate room created for these short-term placements.The district also plans to proactively meet with the student and parents to educate them of the consequences.

To see the revised SCOC and a complete list of changes made, refer to the following documents:

Bond Savings Allocated for Projectors Replacement Fund

Bond Oversight Committee Responsibilities

🎬 6.C.1. Consider Approval of the Bond Oversight Committee Recommendation to Transfer Bond Savings to Technology to Purchase Projector Replacements

The Board approved the Bond Oversight Committee’s recommendation to transfer $125,000 of bond project savings from the 2017 Bond to purchase projector replacements.

The 2021 Bond included funds for interactive panels to replace projectors in all classrooms. The funds to install those interactive panels were included in the 2023 Bond, which passed in May. Before those new panels can be installed, these newly transferred funds from bond project savings will service repairs to existing projectors.

The Informational Technology (IT) department plans to start deployment of the interactive flat panel project in Spring 2024. 

The Bond Oversight Committee is a committee of 25 community members who oversee authorized bond dollars and reviews the status of capital projects, bond expenditures and project schedules.

Superintendent Provides Update: Emergency Response to 1431 Fire, HB3 Compliance


1431 Fire

Cedar Park Fire

Superintendent Bruce Gearing extended sympathies to those in the Bexley apartment complex in Cedar Park who were affected by the fire off of FM 1431 and Parmer Road earlier this week.

“To the families and staff who were impacted, we are thinking of you and working with campuses to help out in any way we can,” Gearing said. “If you know of anyone in our community who needs assistance, please reach out. We will do our best to connect emergency resources to those in need.”

Our schools immediately began making contact with their families to see how best they could help those in need. In total, more than 75 LISD families, along with two employees, live in this apartment complex. Ten were in affected buildings and four experienced a total loss.

Gearing expressed gratitude to the Red Cross, Hill Country Bible Church, Hill Country Community Ministries and the PTA Clothes Closet who all stepped up to support families through this challenging time. He also acknowledged the incredible work of the Cedar Park Fire Department, Cedar Park Police Department, the 20 other agencies who responded in support, along with the Cedar Park mayor and city manager who all did an incredible job of mitigating the damage of this fire.

HB3: Security Officers

LISD Learning Model

The safety and security of our students and staff remains the top priority in Leander ISD. During the recently concluded legislative session, the passing of House Bill 3 requires school districts to place an armed security officer at each campus, among other requirements.

In response, district officials added this topic to the agenda of a July meeting with our Safety & Security Committee to collect feedback from our law enforcement and first-responder partners. That feedback, along with internal implementation discussions, has led to LISD pursuing a “good cause” exception due to lack of funding and availability of personnel. 

“We will of course come into compliance as soon as possible,” Gearing said, “and so we’ll be working diligently to develop an alternative plan over the next several months.”

In the interim, LISD will continue with the existing practice of School Resource Officers at each of our high schools through our partnerships with the Leander and Cedar Park police departments and the Travis County Sheriff’s Office. The district will also explore options to place armed security officers at middle schools as well.

Leander ISD Welcomes New Principal at River Ridge Elementary

River Ridge Elementary: Announcing Principal Sally Sosa, Ph.D.

River Ridge Elementary School gained a new leader after Sally Sosa, Ph.D., was approved by the Leander ISD Board of Trustees at Thursday’s Board meeting.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Sally Sosa as the new principal of River Ridge Elementary,” said Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D. “Her impressive leadership background and instructional knowledge will undoubtedly have a profound impact on the Rattler community. We are confident that Dr. Sosa’s passion for systems and dedication to cultivating strong relationships with both staff and families will continue to foster a positive and nurturing learning environment for all of our students.”