During its June 13 meeting, the  Leander ISD Board of Trustees:

View the entire agenda. Watch the livestream video.

Board Recognition: Texas Association of School Boards Grassroots Student Scholarship Winner

Congratulations to Rouse High School graduate Mary Haynes. Mary received a $500 scholarship from Texas Association of School Board Risk Management. Leander ISD won this opportunity to offer a scholarship through a special drawing. Board members decided to award the funds based on a winning essay on what Student Voice means to them. 

“We had over 22 applicants from all over the district,” Board member Anna Smith said. “Mary’s essay stood out because it truly recognized what we as a Board have been working on over the last couple of months–strategic plan, our guiding documents. It was a tribute to what we do and why we are here. We are so proud of what she’s accomplished here in Leander ISD.”

Congratulations, Mary!

Long Range Planning Committee Wraps Up Work With Presentation to Board

After months-long work, the district’s long range planning committee provided an update to the Board that focuses on creating a ten-year facilities plan. With a focus on student learning, optimizing facilities, fiscal responsibility and demographic population changes, the eight-member committee determined several factors in creating the plan, including:

  • Long-term stability
  • Accessibility to choices
  • Honoring neighborhood school concept

The committee recommended zoning changes to secondary schools in the Central/North Zone (Cedar Park & Leander). By making adjustments over the course of ten years, the plan indefinitely postpones building high school 8 and an elementary school in Area D, modifies utilization of campuses in the Central/South Zone (Cedar Park & Austin), and identifies areas to host Schools of Choice,

Regarding Schools of Choice, the committee announced exploring the concept beyond high schools. They identified a timeline to research options, gather community feedback and make recommendations to the Board in July.

“This committee has done incredible work creating a foundation,” Board President Trish Bode said. “We must continue to bring our community alongside us as we begin to make decisions, particularly when we need feedback on Schools of Choice and the formation of a Citizens’ Facility Advisory Committee. It takes coordination as we progress through this process.”

The Board will have the next couple of weeks to review the plan before they discuss the process, timeline and updated charter for a Citizens’ Facility Advisory Committee (CFAC) at its June 23 meeting. CFAC’s work will determine the needs for a Bond election.

School Safety and Security Discussed Among Board

The LISD Campus Support team provided details, answered questions and specified ways to make improvements to school safety and security. In response to the deadly school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott wrote a letter calling for a comprehensive review of every Texas school district’s safety and security measures. 

Staff explained to the Board the district turned in its emergency operations plan in 2021. At that time, the Texas School Safety Center reviewed and approved it. Currently, support staff is focusing emergency drills on the reunification process, safely pairing student with parent in a structured way. Included in drills are identifying roles of responsibilities of student, teacher and staff. During the summer, LISD hosts its annual Safety Summit for staff when we familiarize ourselves with incident command structure, the tools available, and our partnerships with law enforcement. Structurally, every campus has controlled access points. In addition, the district utilized a $700-thousand grant from Texas Education Agency (TEA) to install card readers and update our badging system.   

Staff agreed to keep the Board informed of meetings and updates.

Sodexo Becomes District’s Food Service Management Company

The Board has approved the district’s recommendation to select Sodexo as its food service provider. After a Texas Dept. of Agriculture (TDA) audit, the state agency required a fixed cost agreement with our food service vendor. Currently, the district is under a cost-reimbursable contract with Southwest Foodservice Excellence (SFE). This change forced the district to solicit proposals through the Request for Proposal (RFP) process. 

While current child nutrition services (CNS) workers will remain district employees, under the new agreement with Sodexo, the company will hire staff under its own management. 

 Board members expressed concern about the lack of local control over the change.

“I’m really struggling because the state has tied our hands. We scream local control for this very reason,” Secretary Elexis Grimes said. “But, our first call is each and every student, and we have to feed those kiddos because sometimes it is their only meal.”

The contract agreement results in a cost savings of nearly a half-million dollars. The term of the agreement will last one year with 4 one-year extensions optional.

Interlocal agreement with the City of Austin Provides Funds for Early Childhood Education

Austin City Council is providing $16,000 to LISD in an effort to support Early Childhood Special Education/Pre-Kindergarten. Council created a resolution showing its commitment to expanding existing affordable, high-quality childcare services and access to Prek. The district is using the funds at its only Prek site in Travis County, Grandview Hills Elementary. District staff mentioned using the funds to expand and renovate its outdoor learning space. 

The Board Prepares for the 88th Legislative Session

After a discussion of the Board’s legislative priorities and the Texas Association of School Boards resolutions during its May 19 meeting, the Board approved each measure. Trustees discussed making amendments as necessary. However, the work creates foundational structure for how they want to approach the next legislative session. State lawmakers convene for the 88th Legislative Session in January 2023.

Puberty Curriculum for Grades 4-6 Adopted

After discussion of puberty textbooks for grades 4-6, the Board adopted materials, using the same instructional materials for fourth- and fifth-graders and to use a new resource for sixth grade.

The Student Health Advisory Committee made the recommendations during the Board’s May 19 meeting. A subcommittee gathered information from other districts and sampled material from vendors. Educators currently involved in the curriculum offered feedback. SHAC recommends:

  • Fourth-grade – continue the use of
    • Marsh Media; Just Around the Corner – for boys
    • Marsh Media: Just Around the Corner – for girls
  • Fifth-grade – continue the use of
    • Marsh Media: Growing Up! – for boys
    • Marsh Media: Growing Up! – for girls
  • Sixth-grade – new resource 
    • Choosing the Best Way

Erin Uhlaender Named New Principal of Winkley Elementary

Tarvin Elementary Assistant Principal Erin Uhlaender will become Winkley Elementary’s new principal. Erin has served as an assistant principal in Leander ISD at both Tarvin and Parkside Elementary. Prior to that, she served as a classroom teacher in the district as well as Dripping Springs and Lockhart ISD.   

Officers Continue Serving in Respective Roles

As part of its annual process to review and vote on its leadership positions, the Board named its officers. Current officers will remain in their roles:

  • Trish Bode as president, serving her fourth year; 
  • Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia, Ph.D. as vice president, serving her third year; and 
  • Elexis Grimes as secretary, also serving her third year.