Voters will determine how the district keeps up with rapid student enrollment growth after the LISD Board of Trustees called for a November bond election. Trustees also approved the student code of conduct, discussed a potential district equity policy and reviewed recent state legislation’s effects on district finances.
Election called for Nov. 2 to fund new schools, updates to old schools
Voters will have an opportunity to vote on a $772.2 million bond proposal to build four new schools, renovate 12 old schools, and replace old fine arts equipment and technology.
After months of careful deliberation, Trustees called a Nov. 2 bond election after receiving recommendations from a community-led committee earlier this summer. Through three ballot propositions, the bond:
- addresses enrollment growth,
- repairs aging facilities, and
- replaces outdated technology
The bond includes projects that impact ALL students and DOES NOT affect the tax rate. Over the next 10 years, our demographer expects us to add more than 12,000 students, requiring us to build nine new schools (seven elementary schools, one middle school and one high school).
Projects included in the bond
- four new schools (three elementary and one middle);
- renovations and major maintenance at 12 schools;
- additional classrooms for modernization at Cedar Park, Leander, and Vista Ridge high schools;
- replacements of old lighting and sound equipment, as well as old instruments for high school fine arts programs;
- new playground equipment and shade structures (when needed) at all elementary schools;
- new 18+ plus program building for students in special education qualifying for services after their 18th birthday;
- new building for New Hope High School, a school of choice program that allows students to self pace earning high school credits;
- an additional school of choice for high school students;
- technology infrastructure projects to improve quality and reliability of internet services; and
- new laptops and technology devices to replace old equipment used by students and teachers.
“I appreciate the Trustees’ thoughtful, deliberate discussion this year as we listened carefully to our community members and planned a way forward,” Board President Trish Bode said. “The CFAC recommendations reflect the essential needs of our students as we plan for growth and strive to offer outstanding learning environments for each and every student.”
We will be producing lots of informational items including videos, presentations, and handouts over the coming weeks to inform our community about the contents of the bond proposal.
Updated English/Language Arts materials process focuses on transparency, family communication
In response to community concerns about reading materials in our ELA curriculum, we are following through with our commitment to address:
- a thorough literature selection process involving parents,
- a published list of approved titles,
- a consistent process for parent communication and opportunity for parents to identify titles not to be read, and
- a clear process for reconsideration of instructional materials
District staff presented the results of all eight review cycles of ELA materials from 2020–21 and steps taken to foster both support for teachers, transparency for families, and adjustments to unit titles to clarify their learning outcomes.
We will soon launch a website designed to clearly communicate with our community about all of the text selections available to our secondary ELA students along with additional learning to build background learning. The site will focus on transparency, including:
- Process for whole-class text approval,
- Approved whole-class text list by course (grades 6-12),
- Approved book club text list by course (grades 6-12),
- Titles and summaries,
- Identification of potentially sensitive topics or themes,
- Expectations regarding parent communication including samples,
- Community feedback form to suggest additional titles, and
- Reconsideration process
Trustees considered language for potential Board policy updates related to materials adoption as well as the teaching of controversial issues in the curriculum. The Board policy subcommittee has been working with district staff all summer on language addressing these topics. The Board could opt to vote on the proposed language at its Aug. 26 meeting.
Trustees discuss potential district equity policy
The Board policy subcommittee presented for Trustee discussion a draft of a new district equity policy (AEA) that aims to empower our district leaders to reduce inequities and formally communicate to our community the desire to make LISD an inclusive place for all students.
The policy subcommittee met several times with the district’s Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee in drafting the language, which aims to provide guidance, establish a framework, and direct action to affect change in LISD.
“Both the ELA and the equity policies are the products of a wonderful blend of teachers, community members, staff and Board members meeting over an extended period of time with the aim of moving our district forward,” Board Vice President Gloria Gonzalez-Dholakia said. “It was truly inspiring work and I thank my fellow members on the Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee and Board policy subcommittee for their tireless efforts in creating them.”
As this is a new policy and not a review of an existing policy, the language may be reviewed and modified prior to adoption.
General fund budget takes a hit due to state legislation
While current student enrollment registration is well above the budgeted amount and with state revenue likely to increase, legislation removing pandemics and epidemics from the types of disasters that can trigger the availability of additional taxing authority for school districts will result in a loss of access to additional funding sources to the district’s general fund.
The budget was developed assuming the district would be able to add one penny to the tax rate. Removal of this option by virtue of SB 1438 results in a loss of state and local funding. Although the 2021-2022 budget was adopted on June 17, the impacts of the 87th Legislative session on school finance were still being analyzed and certified home values had just been received.
The adopted general fund for revenues and other sources totaled $368,557,017. Based on changes in the law and certified values, General Fund revenues are now projected to be $4,283,181 lower than original estimates. However, those losses could be offset because we anticipate higher than expected enrollment.