During its Jan. 18 meeting, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees agenda included: 

Spotlight on Learning: LEO Center

During the Spotlight on Learning, students from Leander ISD’s Extended Opportunity (LEO) Center shared how teachers make them feel heard, how to learn from their mistakes and how to grow and reach their goal. Thank you to these students for talking about their experiences and demonstrating resilience.

School Board Recognition Month

As we continue to celebrate School Board Recognition Month, we want to say thank you and “Spread the Word” of the tireless work Trustees do to support public education and advocate for our district while listening and upholding the needs of our community.

Before Thursday’s Board meeting, we held a reception to show our appreciation of these Trustees who volunteer their time in service of our students and staff.

Superintendent’s Report: Spirit Exchange Teachers

Filipino Teachers pose with the Board

In his report to the Board, Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D. shared information about the district’s work with the Spirit Cultural Exchange Program. Through this, LISD has 32 teachers from 8 countries working here on J-1 visas, which allows individuals to participate in a work-study-based exchange visitor programs. 

During the meeting, 11 teachers from the Philippines projected their culture through dance.

Elementary School Zoning Update

Attendance Zoning Process

🎬 7.A.1. Consider Approval of Elementary School #30 Attendance Zoning Recommendation

During the attendance zoning agenda item, Trustees voiced a desire to see changes in the elementary school zoning process and voted against the district-recommended scenario as presented. 

The district will continue its work collecting and examining functional capacity numbers from elementary schools in the impacted areas and will explore next steps before bringing this item back before the Board in February. A school’s functional capacity takes into account the program offerings and specific ways classrooms are utilized in order to provide a more realistic projection of available space.

“This is a hard process, and I think a lot of that is credit to our wonderful teachers and principals and schools for creating this community that people love,” said Board President Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia, Ph.D. “While change can be challenging, we’re fortunate in Leander ISD to know that no matter the school, there are no bad options. All of our #1LISD schools are home to vibrant learning opportunities each and every day.”

As part of the 10-year Long-Range Plan for Leander ISD, Elementary School #30 is scheduled to open in August 2024 to address the growth in the northern part of the district.

The process began Oct. 5, 2023, when the Board reviewed the charter that was developed by the Long-Range Planning Committee (LRPC). After three rounds of community feedback and six community forums, the scenario was shared with the LRPC to evaluate to what degree the scenario met the parameters established in the charter.

Previous Updates

Options for 2024–25 Academic Calendar Come into Focus

2024–25 Calendar Recommendation

🎬 7.A.2. 2024-2025, 2025-2026 Academic Calendar Discussion

Following the conclusion of a comprehensive feedback process, the district presented its 2024–25 academic calendar recommendation for consideration. Approval will be sought at the Feb. 1 Board meeting.

 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

Note: This calendar draft matches the draft presented a year ago when the Board approved the current 2023–24 calendar.

“I appreciate the thought and intentionality that went into this,” said Trustee Trish Bode, applauding the work of LISD’s administration and the calendar development process. “You’ve kept the focus on students and academics while also balancing and considering so many other factors that impact our community – everything from vacation days and custodial agreements to ACC’s calendar for our dual-credit students.”

Through the feedback process, the district received a lot of 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 next day.

Previous Updates

District Seeks Community Input as Part of Instructional Resources Adoption Process

Adoption Timeline

🎬 7.A.3. Instructional Materials Adoption Process Overview

The Instructional Materials Selection Process, an annual review of the materials of a rotating selection of courses, continues on its adoption timeline.

After already beginning steps to collect input from teachers and staff and various committee groups, the process now turns to gathering feedback from the community at large. Members of our community have opportunities to provide feedback on these resources from Jan. 11–Feb. 16 through in-person viewing at Central Office and Cedar Park High School, or by viewing the materials virtually on the district website

The district will host three Q&A Zoom meetings Feb. 7 – at 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. – with district curriculum experts that allow community members to explore the options, ask questions and provide feedback.

  • Career & Technology Education
    • Technology Applications (6-8)
    • Principles of Education and Training
    • Instructional Practices
    • Human Growth and Development
    • Anatomy and Physiology
    • Medical Microbiology
    • Medical Terminology
    • Health Science Theory
    • Forensic Science
    • Computer Science I
    • AP Computer Science
    • Cybersecurity Capstone
    • Fundamentals of Computer Science
  • Advanced Placement Courses
    • AP Government
    • AP European History
    • AP Economics
    • AP Psychology
    • AP Chemistry
  • All K-12 Science Courses/Grades (including Astronomy, an approved new course)

Recommendations on materials will come before the Board for approval later in the spring semester.

Previous Updates

Child Nutrition Services Department Update

Student Experience

🎬 7.C.1. Child Nutrition Services Annual Report

Leander ISD partners with a food service management company – Southwest Foodservice Excellence (SFE) – to run the Child Nutrition Services (CNS) department. 

In their annual update, SFE detailed efforts to improve the student experience through things like nutrition education and a Roving Chef program, where the department’s head chef travels to elementary schools to offer hands-on cooking sessions. Programs like Flavor Fest help infuse student choice into the daily menu.

“The very first thing my fifth-grader tells me about when he gets in the car is his lunch – in great detail, every single part of it,” Trustee Francesca Romans shared of her child’s excitement with school meals. “Whatever fizzy drinks you’re putting in the elementary school cafeterias, they’re awesome.”

SFE returned as the district’s vendor for 2023–24 after a one-year absence. In that time, the CNS team has hired more than 70 cafeteria staff members. Currently, the department has a little more than 40 open positions compared to nearly 115 a year ago.

Meanwhile, SFE also reported on its staff empowerment efforts through employee appreciation, team building and training initiatives for staff.

Budget Assumptions Approved for 2024–25 Fiscal Year

2024–25 Budget Timeline & Next Steps

🎬 7.C.2. Discussion and Consider Adoption of the 2024-2025 Budget Assumptions

Trustees approved the budget assumptions and parameters that will be used as a starting point in building the 2024–2025 budget, including:

  • Student enrollment of 43,039 based on the moderate growth model in the latest demographic update (not PreK adjusted)
  • Average daily attendance rate of 94%
  • Property value growth based on 7%
  • 2% pay increase for staff and $1.5 million for pay adjustments
  • Maintenance & Operations (M&O) tax rate of $0.7569 and Interest and Sinking (I&S) tax rate of $0.33 for a combined total tax rate of $1.0869, a more than $0.02 reduction from the current fiscal year.
  • Budget parameter of 3%, the level of deficit approval

The 2024–25 budget is scheduled for adoption on June 27, 2024.

Previous Updates

Dec. 14, 2023: Budget Outlook for 2024–25 Fiscal Year