During its Aug. 4 meeting, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees:
- Learned about DSHS’ COVID protocol update for 2022-23 school year
- Received an update on staffing
- Acquired the latest information on Leander ISD’s campus safety readiness
- Reviewed the Early College High School Summer Bridge for its inaugural class
- Discussed details about school finance and the voter-approved tax rate election
COVID-19 Protocols for the 2022-23 School Year
During the Aug. 4 superintendent’s report, LISD Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D. shared that the Department of State Health Services changed COVID-19 protocols to reduce the number of days for student isolation from 10 days to five days. Isolation requirements will now be the same amount of time for students and staff. “We are excited that this change allows us to hopefully get our students back into the classroom much quicker than we have been able to over the last couple of years,” said Gearing.
Though not required, Texas Education Agency recommends individuals wear a mask for five days after returning to school.
Gearing also reminded families that the district is paying attention to Williamson and Travis county case data and work closely with both agencies and will adjust our response accordingly.
Preparing for the Return of Students, Staffing Update Displays a Positive Trend
With over 42,000 students projected to arrive on Leander ISD campuses on Aug. 17, staffing is key. Chief Human Resources Officer Karie Lynn Eggeling stated that we have decreased the number of vacancies in all areas with the exception of high school special education teachers in the past two weeks
The number of substitute teachers who have completed processing requirements has increased from 318 to 425 personnel. Our goal is to have 750 fully processed substitutes before the school year starts. “People are starting to respond to the call, as we are getting closer to the school year starting, we are seeing people actively participating in getting processed, so we are happy about those numbers,” said Eggeling.
We are still looking for staff in a variety of positions as we continue to prepare for the new school year.
Committed to Campus Safety Year Round, The District is Ready to Welcome Students for the 2022-23 School Year
Assistant Superintendent of Campus Activities and Support John Graham presented an update on the safety and security of our 47 campuses to the Board of Trustees. Graham noted that LISD hosted a Safety Operations Summit on July 26. Principals and administrative leadership from across the district received training and discussed the most recent safety protocols for application at each campus and building. At this summit, staff members learned about the “I Love You Guys” Foundation and trained in “Stop the Bleed.”
Campuses will complete a summer door audit to ensure all campus exterior and interior doors are functioning properly before school starts. In addition, each campus will complete weekly safety audits of all doors. Those that are found to be non-functioning during the school day will be considered an immediate priority to ensure they will be fixed quickly so that we do not have any doors that are not functioning.
“It is imperative to us that our students, staff and families know that our children are safe on our campuses,” said LISD Board of Trustees President Trish Bode. “This continued training, heightened security measures, and weekly safety audits will be invaluable to maintain vigilance and to avoid any complacency. We cannot wait to have our sweet kids back on our campuses in a few days and we need the community’s help to ensure safety. If you see something that does not look right, say something.”
Graham also shared information about the new SMART Tag program. The system provides accurate, near real-time monitoring of where and when students load onto and unload off of their school bus – to help promote student safety and security, keeping parents, school administrators and the district’s transportation department more informed. With safety a top priority for LISD, this application will further facilitate our efforts to keep our kids safe while they are on their way to and from school.
Early College High School Kick’s Off Their Inaugural Year
LISD’s Early College High School (ECHS), our newest school of choice, opened its doors to the inaugural freshman class on July 25 for a four-day Summer Bridge event. Students participated in team-building activities garnering new friendships and getting settled in their new surroundings at the ACC San Gabriel Campus.
The ECHS initiative is an open-enrollment program that blends college and high school coursework, enabling students to earn up to two years of college credit (60 hours), tuition-free, while enrolled in high school.
Voter-Approval Tax Rate Election (VATRE)
The Board of Trustees discussed calling a special election to be held by Leander ISD regarding ratifying a Voter-Approval Tax Rate on November 8. Polling locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Williamson and Travis Counties. Early voting begins Oct. 24 – Nov. 4, 2022.
Chief Financial Officer Elaine Cogburn discussed recapture and described the VATRE in detail, sharing the impact on staffing and program availability if a VATRE does not pass. “It’s a hard discussion, as we talked about messaging and how it was very deliberate that we wanted to put as much information in front of people,” said Board Trustee Gloria Dholakia-Gonzales, Ed.D. “We want people to know that there is a lot of purposeful misinformation, lies and deceit. The ballot language is created to work against us. It’s going to take all of us communicating every single piece of information to combat this. I’m remaining hopeful that our community really cares about our staff and our programs – These are the things that make LISD special.”
The LISD community can access the Smart Money website to understand more about school finance. Please stay tuned to our website, social media and newsletters as the District will continue to share helpful information about the VATRE and school finance over the coming months.
For a more detailed explanation on why the district is pursuing VATRE, visit the Managing the Tax Rate section of the Budget Deficit page.