During its Feb. 1 meeting, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees agenda included:
- Spotlight on Learning: Rouse HS
- Board Approves 2024–25 Academic Calendar, Draft of 2025–26
- Bond Oversight Committee Recommendations Approved for Projects Related to Future Schools, Early College HS, Leander HS Masterplan
- Strategic Plan Formative Review: Equitable Access
- Early Childhood Program Update
Spotlight on Learning: Rouse HS
During the Spotlight on Learning, Rouse HS students showcased their involvement and success in UIL Academics.
Everything from Current Events to Journalism to Social Studies and Science, students demonstrated a passion for learning and the challenge UIL Academic competitions offer.
Board Approves 2024–25 Academic Calendar, Draft of 2025–26
During its consent agenda, Trustees approved the 2024–25 academic calendar, closing out a monthslong process of community feedback.
Key features of the calendar include:
- First day of school is Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2024, the same week as in 2023–24
- Last day of school is Friday, May 23, 2025, maintaining an end date before Memorial Day
- Preserves two dedicated teacher workdays incorporated into the schedule before school starts
- Student early release days for teacher work time: Dec. 20 and May 23
- Continuous Improvement Conference: Nov. 4–5, aligning with Tuesday’s student holiday for Election Day.
- Spring Break: March 17–21, aligning with Austin Community College
- Staff development days during the school year will balance new learning with teacher planning and collaboration time: Sept. 23, Oct. 7, Jan. 6, Feb. 17, March 24 and April 21
Through the feedback process, the district received many responses related to the winter break, making note of this current year’s unusual distribution of days before and after the holidays because of how the days of the week aligned. Rolling that forward a year, in the 2024–25 calendar, that split of days nudges backward with staff returning from break on the first Monday of January – Jan. 6, 2025 – and students returning the day after.
Community feedback signaled support for the following:
- two full weeks for winter break
- a full week for Thanksgiving
- a short first week of school
- ending school by Memorial Day
- early release before winter break and last day of school
This calendar-adoption process also resulted in a draft of the 2025–26 academic calendar, which would be formally approved at a future meeting.
- Jan. 18, 2024: Options for 2024–25 Academic Calendar Come into Focus
- Nov. 9, 2023: Academic Calendar Discussions Underway for 2024–25
Bond Oversight Committee Recommendations Approved for Projects Related to Future Schools, Early College HS, Leander HS Masterplan
The Board approved three recommendations of the Bond Oversight Committee (BOC) to move ahead with a series of projects funded through a combination of bond project savings and capital project interest earnings. The BOC met in late January and voted in favor of bringing these recommendations to the Board.
“I’m glad to be at this point where we can address some of these issues,” said Board President Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia, Ph.D. “Passing the bond in May 2023 with our community’s support set us on a path to address our district’s facility needs, and as these projects move further along, we’re in a position now to accommodate necessary adjustments and approve the recommendations of the committee.”
Widening County Road 175
In Williamson County’s recently passed bond proposition, one of Proposition A’s road projects included the reconstruction and widening of CR 175 from south of Creek Meadow Drive to RM 2243. This project will provide improved access for the communities along CR 175 from RM 1431 to RM 2243.
Leander ISD owns 163 acres south of 2243 at CR 175 and also owns 76 acres north of RM 2243 at CR 175. Between these two sites, a high school, middle school, elementary school and other facilities are planned in the future.
Williamson County approached LISD about participating in this road project, as it will provide safe access on CR 175 to these sites from RM 1431 to RM 2243.
The Board approved LISD funding $2 million of the county’s estimated $29 million road project through bond project savings.
Early College HS Portables
LISD’s 2023 Bond included nearly $7 million to cover the cost of designing a permanent facility for Early College HS on the Austin Community College San Gabriel campus in Leander.
Until the construction of a permanent facility has been funded and completed, the bond project funds will also go toward portables needed in the meantime. Currently, ECHS is housed in the campus’ main building; however, ACC will be utilizing all of the main building’s space starting August 2024.
The total cost of portables is higher than the estimate originally included in the 2023 Bond by roughly $4.1 million.
The Board approved this additional cost of portables be funded with capital project interest earnings.
Leander HS Masterplan Redesign – Phase 1
The Masterplan process consisted of a committee – including LHS teachers, students, staff and district staff – with a goal of determining the needs of the campus and how they will be addressed in the Masterplan. The process concluded with the committee’s June 8, 2023 presentation to the Board.
The committee’s findings included additional renovations to address security and access for public events, specifically those at the competition gyms and the performing arts center. The new cost of Phase 1 is estimated to be $55.8 million, which represents an additional $32.3 million of construction costs compared to what was included in the 2023 Bond.
The Board approved this additional cost toward construction of Phase 1 be funded with capital project interest earnings.
Bagdad Elementary Modernization Project
Also at Thursday’s meeting, Trustees approved the second Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) contract for the Bagdad Elementary Modernization project, allowing for the release of Bond funds already allocated for this project.
This GMP will go toward the construction phase of this modernization project. Construction work on this project is anticipated to begin in Summer 2024.
Bagdad Elementary: $13,992,018 (for a total GMP of $15,599,999)
Modernization of an existing facility involves the replacement of major building sub-systems including but not limited to roofing, elevators, air conditioning, lighting, electrical, plumbing, fire protection systems, built-in specialties, interior finishes, and furniture that is at the end of the expected service life.
As a resource to the #1LISD community to learn more about these projects and track their progress, the district has created a Bond & Construction Projects page. Specific project pages include an overall scope of the project, the status of the project, a timeline, information about contractors and vendors, and more.
- Dec. 14, 2023: Bond 2023: Early Childhood Center Construction Manager Approved; Funds Released for RBMS, VRHS Modernizations’ Construction Phase
- Oct. 26, 2023: Board Approves Bond Oversight Committee’s recommendation of Early Childhood Center
- Oct. 26, 2023: Bond 2023: Project Funds Released For Campus Modernizations
- Aug. 24, 2023: Architects, Construction Managers Approved for Slate of 2023 Bond Projects
- June 8, 2023: Leander HS Masterplan Process & Next Steps
- May 11, 2023: 2023 Building Program Moves Forward Following Successful Bond
- April 13, 2023: Review of Bond Oversight Committee Process & Membership
Strategic Plan Formative Review: Equitable Access
Throughout the 2023–24 school year’s Board Meeting calendar, LISD will present a formative review of one goal within the five-year Strategic Plan and the District Improvement Plan. In this meeting, district administrators reviewed the Equitable Access goal, one focused on ensuring opportunities by eliminating barriers for each and every student.
In Fall 2023, Leander ISD’s equitable access accomplishments received national acclaim in being named College Board Advanced Placement District of the Year. College Board cited LISD’s ability to continue challenging students to achieve at the highest levels while simultaneously broadening access to earn college credit through a wide variety of AP subjects.
And these efforts go well beyond AP courses, specifically. Trustee Francesca Romans applauded the intentionality in making sure every student has an awareness of the course offerings.
“I have a SPED kid who didn’t think he could do Career & Technical Education classes,” Romans said. “The way that you all are promoting that and opening those doors and making sure that SPED kids have access to everything is incredible.”
Now in its second full year, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has continued its professional development opportunities and also launched a podcast series – On the Street podcast – aimed at continuing the conversation around educational access and highlighting the work happening around increasing cultural competency for Leander ISD staff.
- Dec. 19, 2023: On the Street Podcast: Highlighting Equitable Access
- Nov. 30, 2023: Impactful Family Engagement
- Nov. 16, 2023: Leander ISD Named College Board Advanced Placement District of the Year
- Nov. 9, 2023: Empowered Student Learning
Early Childhood Program Update
The Board received a presentation about the district’s Early Childhood programs, highlighting how the foundational components of early learning connect to the Graduate Profile by providing information on student demographics, performance outcomes, inclusive practices and family engagement.
One facet of the Graduate Profile focuses on empowering students to be “Critical & Creative Thinkers.” When looking at reading and math readiness data from beginning-of-year kindergarten assessments, among students eligible for prekindergarten programs, the data shows a marked increase in the readiness score for students who attended PreK 3 and PreK 4 compared to those who attended only PreK 4 or those who did not attend prekindergarten of any kind.
Parents involved in the district’s early childhood and family education program – Parents as Teachers (PAT) – were also on hand to share how partnering with the district when their children were very young has positively impacted their engagement with LISD and their child’s overall educational experience.
For Jessica Owens, who had three children under the age of 5 at the time, one with a life-threatening medical diagnosis, PAT helped her family navigate their unlit path.
“Parents as Teachers taught me that I have the power and knowledge as a parent to teach in every moment, despite challenging circumstances,” Owens said. “It’s a program built with love and backed by data.”
Another parent, Krystal Turner, spoke highly of her family’s involvement with Parents as Teachers and said all three of her children have benefited socially and educationally from each stage of the program.