During their Jan. 28 Leander ISD Board of Trustees meeting, the Board:

  • approved the district’s 2021–2022 academic calendar, 
  • supported a committee’s recommendations around equity and diversity, 
  • extended the superintendent’s contract to 2024,
  • considered an update to the district’s graduate profile, 
  • solidified budget planning parameters for the upcoming fiscal year and 
  • discussed the launch of a long-range facility planning citizen’s committee, set to launch later this month.  

At the beginning of the media, Trustees were celebrated for their selfless dedication on behalf of our community with a tribute video and they recognized the Vandegrift High School Band for being awarded the Sudler Flag of Honor.

View the entire agenda here. Watch the video here.

Trustees finalize academic calendar for 2021–22 

We will try early release days on most Wednesdays for the 2021-22 academic calendar, as the district tries to meet professional learning needs set by the state for early literacy and by our community’s call for deeper learning and addressing racism and implicit bias in our schools. 

“I agree that we’re partnering with our parents and we’ve asked them to give a lot,” Board President Trish Bode said. “But we’re hearing from our district that we set these visions, we set these core beliefs, we set where we want to go, and they’re saying ‘this is what we need for development and essential for the type of education we want to provide for all our students.’”     

The 2021–22 calendar:

  • Meets state requirement for instructional minutes
  • Releases before Memorial Day
  • First day of school mid-week
  • Follows current daily bell schedules
  • Wednesday 90-minute early releases throughout the year (most weeks); This time would be used for:
    • Teacher professional development and training
    • Time for teachers to meet with their Professional Learning Communities
    • Teacher planning

The Board opted to approve the 2022-23 academic calendar next year to maintain flexibility.

Trustees examine district efforts to facilitate equity and diversity, provide guidance for making progress

After months of discussion, testimonials from across the community and a special meeting focused solely on equity and racism, the Board of Trustees supported the district’s Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee’s recommendations around writing draft policies, creating professional learning plans for staff, and increasing community collaboration.

The committee suggested considering three focus areas:

Policy and Practice

  • Develop a framework for consideration and approval of a district equity policy.
  • Promote practices that create inclusive and equitable systems for our community with an emphasis on those who are most impacted by structural inequality and inequity.
  • Consider creating a lead equity position in Leander ISD. 

Professional Learning

  • Offer sessions at Continuous Improvement Conference (CIC) that provide participants with the opportunity to begin engaging in discussions surrounding equity and diversity.  
  • Provide ongoing professional opportunities for faculty/staff within LISD; Create a series of foundational learning experiences for all staff.
  • Partner with surrounding districts who are also doing this work and consider  hosting a conference focused specifically on issues surrounding equity and diversity.  

Community Collaboration

  • Continuation of community events to include listening sessions, shared learning, and collaboration on district equity plan.
  • Expand transparency to the community by creating a web presence and regular updates to families on the work of the Equity and Diversity Committee.   
  • Collaborate with district and campus-based equity and diversity committees, including student groups, PTAs, etc.
  • Create equity advocates at each campus and district department who have a direct line to the district office of equity. 

“For the community at large that may not know the work behind the scenes, these meetings, at points, were raw; they were difficult,” Trustee and former committee member Jim MacKay said. “But one thing that struck me was the varied backgrounds of the individuals that were presenting and speaking their truth and did so with a certain air of safety and comfort. And that right there is the biggest problem we have to overcome as we move forward with this conversation.”

After direction from the Board, the Equity and Diversity Advisory Committee will continue working on these initiatives and give periodic updates to Trustee at future Board meetings. 

Board extends Superintendent Gearing’s contract through 2024 school year

Bruce Gearing, Ed.D. will continue to serve as superintendent until at least July 2024 after the Board voted unanimously to extend his current contract. Dr. Gearing, who joined Leander ISD in September 2019, originally signed a contract through 2022.

Graduate Profile conversation set to continue

Trustees discussed the Leander ISD Graduate Profile document, which is developed to set expectations for Leander ISD graduates. The district is inviting students, teachers, school staff, and families to weigh in during one of six virtual listening sessions. For more information and session registration, click here.

Budget continues to take shape with modified parameters 

The district faces a budget deficit for the next school year and the extent of budget cuts is still to be determined.  

Board members discussed budget assumptions/parameters that will be used in building the 2021–22 budget. Trustees approved a budget parameter of 5% which places a cap of the level of deficit that can be presented to the Board for approval of next year’s budget. This parameter indicates how much fund balance the district can use to balance the budget for the upcoming fiscal year. 

LISD staff will continue building the budget according to this framework and take into consideration the following estimates:

  • Student enrollment of 41,749  (3% growth)
  • Property value growth based on 3%  
  • 2% pay increase  
  • Campus per-student allocations are maintained with adjustments to Fine Arts allocations 
  • Funding Major Maintenance out of bond savings (2007 and 2017)
  • M&O tax rate of $.9590 and I&S tax rate of $.4625 

These assumptions are the starting point and are subject to revision as additional data becomes available during the budget development process. 

Addressing growth, student choice with long-range facility planning

With uneven growth across the 200-square mile district and growing demand for choice in-school programs, Trustees and the district are putting together a framework to develop a long-range facilities plan. A community-led Citizen’s Facilities Advisory Committee will begin meeting soon with the goal of developing a 3–5 year plan to meet the needs of the district and from that plan bring forth recommendations to the Board.   

Expanded online school offerings on the horizon for 2021–22 

After years of learning, refinement, and effort at its back – especially over the last year – LISD is exploring expanding permanent online school offerings at the secondary level. The district will start collecting interest from current high school students in the coming weeks. 

Experienced Austin ISD leader becomes Bagdad ES principal

With a strong focus on student excellence, Monica de la Garza-Conness will lead Bagdad Elementary as its newest principal. Trustees approved the recommendation Thursday night.