During its March 9 meeting, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees agenda included: 

Spotlight on Learning: Westside ES

The 🚀 Westside Rockets 🚀 opened the Board meeting with a focus on Student Empowerment. From the Student Lighthouse Council, to the Rocket Review Crew, the Find Your Voice Choir, and Empowerment Lab Wednesdays, these students are owning their learning.

Board Recognitions

The Leander ISD Board of Trustees celebrated the following groups and individuals during the March 9 meeting:

  • Vandegrift HS wrestling coach Paul Muck for being inducted into the Texas High School Wrestling Coaching Association (THSWCA) Hall of Honor
  • The LISD Purchasing Department for receiving the Award of Merit by the Texas Association of School Business Officials (TASBO)
  • LISD wrestlers, swimmers and divers who medaled at recent UIL state competitions
  • Leander Lazer powerlifters who medaled at the state Special Olympics competition
  • Texas Education Diagnosticians Week
  • The LISD School & Community Relations Department for receiving awards from the Texas School Public Relations Association (TSPRA)
  • Celebrate Texas Public Schools month, highlighted by the students’ recent trip to the Texas Capitol during PTA Rally Day

Special thanks to Kaveri Mukherjee and Alina Sheikh of Stiles Middle School for anchoring these recognitions.

Board Approves 2023–24 Special Education Stipend & Supplemental Pay Increases

🎬 8.C.1. Discuss and Consider Approval of Special Education Stipend and Supplemental Pay Recommendations Effective with the 2023-2024 School Year

Addressing retention and recruitment efforts for a set of positions that have become increasingly hard to fill in recent years, the Board approved stipend and supplemental pay increases for special education positions.

Split into four categories, the position group stipend adjustments for the 2023–24 will be as follows:

  • Self-Contained from $2,000 to $5,000
  • Behavior from $0 to $3,000 
  • General from $0 to $2,500
  • Vision remains at $2,700

“This means so much to be able to recognize and honor the hard work of this critical group of employees,” Board Secretary Anna Smith said. “As a Board, I know we will continue to do everything we can to make sure our special education students – and all of our students – have the very best teachers.”

As part of this package, the district will also keep in place sign-on incentives for special education teachers and instructional assistants in the amounts of $1,000 and $500, respectively.

The building of the 2023–24 compensation package and overall operating budget will continue throughout the spring. Throughout, district leaders will monitor surrounding school districts to remain competitive in the market and put LISD in a place to retain and attract the most highly qualified candidates.

Position titles for special education categories referenced above:

  • Self-Contained: ELE, ESLE, SLE, ICAP, ICAP C, Life Skills, Autism Grant, 18+/SELF, TASC, IBC
  • Behavior: Behavior (GOALS, Aspire, SCSS)
  • General: Resource / Inclusion, VAC, Deaf / Hard of Hearing, Adapted PE, DL, Virtual, ARD Spec, MS / HS Team Lead, IRS Staff (Diag, LSSP, OT, PT, SLP)
  • Vision: Vision, O&M

Strategic Plan Formative Review: Empowered Staff

🎬 8.A.1. Empowered Staff Formative Review

Each month, LISD will present a formative review of one goal within the Strategic Plan and the District Improvement Plan. In this meeting, district administrators presented the Empowered Staff goal, to attract, grow and retain a collaborative community of first-rate employees who are empowered to meet the needs of each and every student.

Within the district, we are committed to achieving this goal by:

  • Continuing to expand and enrich recruitment and retention efforts
  • Improving processes for recognizing and supporting LISD staff.

A focus to grow our own was reflected in numerous ways throughout the presentation, including efforts to reach our youngest students during elementary school career fairs and our high school students in the Ready, Set, Teach program, where LISD guarantees an interview for these students if they decide to return home to teach.

In looking to retain the amazing teachers we already have, finding all kinds of ways to say thank you and show appreciation has become increasingly important. The Human Resources department has also begun conducting “Stay” interviews, where we ask the question of why they stay in LISD and what we can do to make the experience even better.

“I am thankful to see the work we are doing to empower staff in this district,” Board President Trish Bode said. “It is powerful to see all of the examples of how we’re working toward this goal.” 

Trustees Share Their Learning From Recent Professional Development Opportunities

🎬 8.B.2. Board Learning Update

A number of Trustees attended the Texas Association School Board Governance Camp in Galveston at the beginning of March, and they shared some of their learning during Thursday’s meeting.

Session topics included student safety, connecting with the community, district branding, career and technical education, and preparing students for what comes next.

Trustee Francesca Romans spoke of attending a session on the topic of suicide awareness, a session run completely by students on the Teague High School student council. 

“It was a very hard session to get through – they were very honest and blunt in their presentation of the material,” Romans said, “but it was something we needed to hear.”

She said students described a “You Matter” wall with notes of inspirational sayings. Students could leave a thought or take a thought if they were needing encouragement.

Among the biggest takeaways was reinforcing the importance of campus teachers and staff forming connections with students, Romans said. That sense of belonging becomes foundational to students being able to learn.

“‘Academia is great; it’s why we’re all here,’” Romans said one of the student presenters shared. “‘But I’m not going to learn if I’m not functioning. My teachers asking me if I’m OK means something. It shows me that they care and that I matter.’”