The district’s Launch to Learning plan for in-person learning takes shape and an update to the Leander ISD dress code was adopted at the Trustees’ regular meeting Thursday night.  

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Trustees approve TEA waiver for phased-in approach to in-person learning beginning Sept. 8

With the health and safety of students and staff as the top priority, Trustees approved a waiver to petition the Texas Education Agency (TEA) for an additional four weeks of virtual learning, paving the way for a modified district proposal to phase in on-campus learning. A percentage of students who wish to return to in-person learning may return to campuses Sept. 8 in accordance with recommendations from local health departments.

Under TEA guidelines, districts can start the year virtually for four weeks, plus an additional four weeks with Board approval. The district’s modified plan would phase in students who have chosen in-person learning to return to campuses beginning Sept. 8.

Phase 1 (Sept. 8 – Sept. 18) of the process will start with those with the highest needs, which include: 

  • Students served in Special Education
  • Pre-K, Kindergarten, 1st, 6th and 9th grades
  • Students without home internet access
  • Children of staff members

Phase 2 (Sept. 21 – Sept. 25) includes all student groups in Phase 1, plus:

  • 2nd, 7th and 12th grades
  • Students receiving direct dyslexia services

Phase 3 (Sept. 28 – Oct. 2) includes all student groups in Phase 1 and Phase 2, plus:

  • 3rd, 8th and 11th grade

All other students that chose in-person instruction will return on Oct. 5. Virtual Empowered Learning will continue for those that choose that option.

We will work within the guidelines of TEA’s directions and gauge community spread of the coronavirus. This step-by-step process will help the district towards its goals to:

  • Re-open campuses and stay open as long as possible 
  • Reduce student in-person numbers (minimizing person-to-person contact, minimizing spread)
  • Implement and refine safety protocols 
  • Align with public health guidelines
  • Honor family choice (families who choose Virtual Empowered Learning can continue learning from home)  

“I appreciate the numerous emails from our staff, parents, and students – our LISD family sharing their hearts and concerns in this challenging time,” Board President Trish Bode said. “The board approval of the TEA waiver supports the district in a phased reopening as recommended by our public health officials. This option does provide the opportunity for teachers and staff to apply health guidelines with a smaller group of students, which will help pave the way as we move to more on-campus instruction as certain benchmarks are reached.”

The district is planning to provide extensive safety measures once in-person learning resumes on our campuses. Cleaning procedures, contact tracing, facility enhancements, and protective equipment are integral parts of the district’s COVID prevention and response plans.

Trustees set 2020–21 tax rate

The Board approved an overall property tax rate of $1.4184 for the 2020 tax year.  The rate reflects a decrease of almost two pennies from the 2019 tax rate of $1.4375.  In addition, the approved rate continues the Board’s strategy to reduce the debt service (I&S) rate by a quarter-penny. 

Trustees considered four scenarios that included rate reductions due to tax compression for maintenance and operations (M&O) as passed in the last legislative session. 

Revised, updated dress code approved for LISD   

The Board updated the dress code to be more inclusive and protective of students based on race, culture, religion, and gender. A committee of students, parents, teachers, board members, and staff determined to rewrite the entire code as a means for reform. 

Discussion during the Board meeting centered on the language protecting specific student groups from discrimination and subjective enforcement. The Board aligned language for protected groups based on its FFH policy which spells out our non-discrimination statement. 

“We have had parents and students come to us and beg us to protect them from racism and discrimination,” Board Vice President Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia, Ed.D., said. “Our marginalized students have waited too long for their voice to be heard. I’m proud that we were able to make these critical updates and keep this conversation going.”

Each school year the Leander ISD Board of Trustees approves the Student Code of Conduct. Updates to the 2020–21 Student Code of Conduct reflect recommendations from the Texas Association of School Boards model and feedback from stakeholders. Because this is a non-legislative year, the only recommended changes are to the dress code.

The district will continue its complete policy review, including a possible update to the FFH policy. 

Academic calendar adjusted to accommodate voting sites at LISD campuses Nov. 3

National, state and local elections will take place Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. Williamson and Travis counties have made a request to use Cedar Park, Leander, Rouse, and Vista Ridge high schools and Deer Creek Elementary School as election sites. To allow for the large crowd and social distancing guidelines, the cafeteria or gym at each of the requested campuses will need to be used. 

In the interest of safety and minimizing disruptions to the school day, Trustees approved a change to the academic calendar that will allow our campuses to be open to elections without the mixing of the voters with our staff and students.

The Nov. 2 professional learning day (a workday for staff and day off for students) is rescheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 3. Students and staff will conduct a normal school day Monday, Nov. 2. 

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We want to be respectful of the volume of communications our families receive. Moving forward, the district will send Board Briefs through Remind, as well as our usual website and social media postings. To receive Board Briefs through Remind, please join the @LISDbriefs class for direct communication or text @LISDbriefs to 81010.