During its June 23 meeting, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees:

View the entire agenda. Watch the livestream video.

Board Recognizes Student Excellence

Congratulations to our #1LISD students who have showcased student ownership and empowerment through their excellence in state competition. We are proud to recognize their dedication and passion!

Enhancing Revenues, Reducing Expenditures, Board Adopts 2022-23 Budget

After months of focusing on cutting costs and growing revenue, the Board has adopted a budget for 2022-23 that serves 43,720 students. The adopted budget assumes the passage of a Voter- Approval Tax Rate Election (VATRE) which raises the M&O tax rate by 9 cents and lowering the I&S tax rate by 13.50 cents, which leads to an overall tax rate decrease. Other features of the budget include:

  • A 5% pay increase for teachers, nurses and counselors, creating a starting pay of $53,520 for new teachers
  • A 4% pay increase for all other district employees
  • Raising the minimum pay rate to $15/hour
  • Potential one-time payment to employees if VATRE passes in November (amount to be determined).  

The tax rate must be adopted by August 22, 2022 and is currently scheduled for adoption on August 18, 2022.

“Even with a VATRE, we are still looking at ways to be conservative with our budgeting practices,” Board President Trish Bode said. “However, that’s just one factor. We are sending $36 million to the state in recapture. As a Board, we must continue to advocate for funding mechanisms that better support public schools during the next legislative session.”

The adopted budget assumes the use of federal stimulus funds. ESSER III and ESSER SUPP funding sources are being used to respond to the pandemic, challenges presented as a result of the pandemic, and to relieve the General Fund by approximately $4.6 million in 2022-2023. The District has been allocated $15.8 million under ESSER III of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and $11 million under ESSER SUPP (ESSER SUPP was originally $12.4 million but has been reduced by TEA).

Board Adopts Revised Bell Schedule for 2022-23 

The Board approved changes to the Bus Route Redesign and Bell Schedule that impact start times for middle and high school students for the upcoming school year. Staff had originally proposed a schedule that sequentially started school for students–elementary, middle, high school. However, the late start time for highschoolers had some board members concerned about how the schedule would impact students who work afterschool, students who take care of siblings, and extracurricular events. The revision to staff’s recommendation is as follows:

  • Elementary – 7:30 am to 2:45 pm (shifts 10 min earlier)
  • High School – 8:15 am to 3:35 pm (shifts 25 min earlier)
  • Middle School – 9:05 am to 4:20 pm (shifts 55 min later)

The district will provide more details on how this will impact staffing schedules when we return from the summer break.

Board Revisits Length of Citizen Comments

In an effort to create consistency and clarity, the Board adopted revisions to operating procedures. Among several updates was the process for citizen comments. The change adopts the practice of giving all speakers 1.5 minutes to address the Board during citizen comments, regardless of the number of speakers. During its November 4, 2021 meeting, the Board adopted guidelines that limited the speaker’s time to 1.5 minutes if there were more than 30 speakers. Board members believe the change will create consistency and less confusion.

“This is a time when I want to call on my fellow trustees to connect with the community,” Board member Anna Smith said. “Citizen comments are only one way to be heard. You can come to office hours. I’d like to see more Board Cafes on the calendar. There are many platforms. We are not trying to silence our public. In fact, we want you to make use of the many opportunities to interact with us.”

Starting with Citizens’ Facility Advisory Committee, Bond Election Could Take Shape

Now that the Long Range Planning Committee has completed its work, creating a plan for facilities over the next ten years, a Citizens’ Facility Advisory Committee (CFAC) can begin to use it in preparation for a bond election. The Board received an update from Chief Facilities Officer Jimmy Disler on the timeline and formation of CFAC. Disler presented revised charters for the CFAC subcommittees, using the Long Range Plan’s goals and direction to help drive the work. 

“I really am excited about this,” Board Secretary Elexis Grimes said. “We had the gift of time to develop the Long Range Plan which let us defer some costs, maximize facility usage and finally get programs of choice into our district that we don’t currently have. The parameters were excellent and I think we set ourselves up for success.” 

The Board will consider the charter amendments at its next Board meeting on July 21.

Staff Highlights the Effectiveness of Advanced Programs

With the goal of ensuring #1LISD students reach their maximum potential, staff presented detailed information on the district’s Advanced Programs. Aligned with the district’s strategic plan, these programs provide student empowerment, equitable access and safe and innovative learning environments. Chief Academic Officer Matt Bentz, Ed.D., made it clear the district is not eliminating any of our gifted services, in particular QUEST, in fact it is strengthening them. Across the district, these programs have empowered campus leaders to design the best way to achieve deeper learning on their campuses, creating programs tailored to student experience.

LISD’s Advanced Programs include: 

  • AVID
  • Advanced Courses
  • Advanced Placement
  • International Baccalaureate

Moving forward, staff is creating a District Gifted Advisory Committee, including parents, teachers and students to help create impactful family engagement, giving our community a voice in the design of the program.

Universal Screeners Demonstrate Student Growth 

As a useful tool to help teachers meet their student’s needs, universal screeners offer data-rich assessment of student growth. During a presentation to the Board, staff explained the effectiveness of tools like  NWEA MAP Growth and ISIP to measure student readiness, national norms, and most importantly, individual student growth in Reading and Math. While the district has used ISIP in grades K-5 for a number of years, we have added ISIP in grades 6-8 and NWEA MAP Growth in grades K-8 during the 21-22 school year. 

Next steps include using universal screeners in Reading and Math for professional learning, empowering teachers to create responsive planning. In addition, high schools will begin implementation of universal screeners, potentially replacing formal campus-based assessments in English Language Arts (ELA), Math and Science..