During its May 11 meeting, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees agenda included: 

Spotlight on Learning: River Ridge Elementary

Showcasing student voice and choice, River Ridge Elementary shared their focus on how to bring the graduate profile to life with personal and academic goals. Students learned to accept that failure is a part of the process.

“Setting goals helps me understand progress and areas I need to get better at,” a River Ridge student said.

Board Recognitions

Thank you to Danielson Middle School students for helping celebrate the hard work and exceptional achievement happening in #1LISD!

Board Reviews Employee Compensation Package 

Across-the-Board Increase Summary

🎬 10.C.3. Discussion of 2023-24 Total Compensation Recommendations

LISD remains committed to attracting, growing and retaining top-notch employees. In alignment with this goal, the district presented a compensation plan with pay raises for every staff member in the 2023–24 budget.

Based on the current budget forecast, LISD administration recommended an across-the-board 3% increase. Under this 3-percent increase at midpoint, every teacher would receive an additional $1,789. The starting salary for teachers would rise to $55,059.

Another component for the Board to consider is a new longevity pay proposal to reward employees for years of service with LISD. After every 5-year milestone completed, starting in Year 5 and continuing through Year 35, an employee would receive a $4,000 incentive on top of their base pay for that year.

“I think it’s important we do what’s right for our teachers,” Trustee Sade Fashokun said. “Our Board has heard feedback from teachers underscoring the importance of rewarding their years of service to this district, especially as starting pay rises.”

Additional highlights of the compensation plan include:

  • Differential pay – an additional $1.50 per hour – for Child Nutrition Services and Custodial Services employees at schools in the southern region of the district to help address hard-to-fill positions
  • A Student Teacher compensation program, including incentives to choose LISD for their student teaching semester and separate incentives to sign on as full-time teacher once completing student teaching

The district also recommended including language in the compensation plan to allow for one-time payment options should certain parameters be met, along with language to allow for a further increase to the base pay should the legislature provide enough funding to do so.

Note: Increases to Special Education stipends and supplemental pay increases were approved at the March 9 meeting.

Superintendent Bruce Gearing will hold staff listening sessions throughout the week of May 15 to hear directly from LISD employees. 

In addition to the district-recommended 3% increase, included in the presentation were summaries for what a 2% and 5% increase would look like. The Board is scheduled to take action on the full compensation plan and continue budget deliberations at the May 25 meeting.

Related Recent Updates

District Receives Property Value Estimates, Recapture Projections for 2023

Recapture projections over four years

🎬 10.C.4. Discussion of 2023 Certified Estimated Property Values and Recapture

Following estimates received by Williamson and Travis counties, the district’s total overall estimated freeze-adjusted property value is projected to increase by 9.83% compared to last year’s certified net freeze-adjusted taxable value.

It’s important to note that the increase in Maintenance & Operations (M&O) property tax collections is offset by the decrease in state funding and/or increase in the district’s recapture payment to the state. LISD’s M&O funding does not increase, and as such the district does not have any increase in funding to use toward its day-to-day expenses, such as employee salaries. 

Instead, the current estimates with 9.83% property value growth would result in the recapture payment increasing by $9.3 million compared to 2022–23 to a total of more than $58 million for 2023–24 (under current law). Recapture represents money a school district sends back to the state from money generated from the M&O portion of the tax rate that is above the amount needed to fund the Tier 1 Entitlement. It also includes excess revenues generated on copper pennies above the yield.

“An estimated amount of almost $300 million of Leander ISD taxpayer money is being paid to the state in recapture over the next 4 years,” Board President Trish Bode said. “This was a timely update for the Board as we are considering compensation and building the budget for next year.”

In contrast, the rise in property values results in additional tax collections from the Interest & Sinking (I&S) tax rate. All monies raised by the I&S tax rate stay in LISD and are not subject to recapture. This provides additional capacity for future debt service retirement.

Taxpayers have until May 15 to protest their appraisals, and the final certifications are due to taxing entities by July 25.

District Recommends Scenario 2 of Middle School & High School Attendance Rezoning

Attendance Zoning Process flowchart

🎬 10.B.1. Discussion of Secondary Schools Attendance Zoning Recommendations

LISD administration recommended Scenario 2 in the 2024–25 Middle School and High School Attendance Rezoning and provided an overview of the steps taken throughout the past five months of moving through this process.

This rezoning represents the first step in the 10-year Long Range Plan. The process began Dec. 8, 2022, when the Board approved the Attendance Zoning for Secondary School Relief Charter. Unlike attendance zonings of the past that often centered on the opening of a new school at the respective level, this rezoning sought to accomplish the following two main objectives:

  • Providing relief to current enrollment numbers for middle school and high school
  • Deferring the timing of future school construction at the middle school and high school levels

Community engagement and feedback anchored the process through each step.

“I’ve been in this district for a while, and I’ve seen a lot of rezoning. And what I haven’t seen is this level of asking people what they want and what they need,” Trustee Francesca Romans said. “I saw the immense amount of work that goes into this, and I appreciate everything LISD did to talk with the community to make sure they were aware of what was happening.”

One particular area showcasing the district’s response to feedback can be seen in the recommendation to phase in changes, allowing 8th-graders at the middle school level and 11th- and 12th-graders at the high school level to remain at their current campus. This phase-in would lead to a more gradual increase to schools seeing a forecasted uptick in enrollment as a result of Scenario 2.

Administration will confirm final decisions about student transfer exceptions and secondary athletic eligibility after the Board adopts the new secondary attendance zones on June 8.

Next Steps

  • June 8, 2023: Board to approve new attendance zones for middle school and high school
  • Following Board approval: Administration confirms final decisions about Student Transfer Exceptions and Secondary Athletic Eligibility Guidelines
  • August 2024: Implementation of new attendance zones for middle school and high school

Related Recent Updates

New Initiative Aimed at Boosting Math Performance

Tiered model with different supports

🎬 10.A.3. Discussion of Leander ISD Mathematics Initiative

After analyzing academic achievement data from multiple sources, evidence demonstrates that reading achievement in LISD has returned to “at or near” pre-pandemic levels while mathematics achievement has not.

Unsatisfied with this reality, the district created a prototype of additional math support and tested it out at four campuses in this 2022–23 school year. Showing promising results, LISD now plans to launch the LISD Mathematics Initiative districtwide, addressing this challenge with a two-pronged approach:

  1. Systemwide professional learning 
  2. Differentiated campus support through a three-tiered model 

The base level Tier 1 includes the systemwide professional learning and support. The higher tiers build on that with targeted campus support seen at Tier 2 and embedded support at Tier 3.

“I am so impressed with this initiative,” Trustee Christine Mauer said. “This has me so excited, the fact that we have the MAP data and can see where the growth is, we can see the spots that need help. We’re sending in math curriculum specialists to work directly with teachers, using our district curriculum and guiding documents as the foundation of that support.”

The first year of this initiative focuses on training and support in math for elementary

Grades 2–5, Grade 6 Mathematics, and Algebra I. Costs associated with this initiative – including nine new math curriculum specialists, five new co-teachers and extra-duty pay for Teacher Learning Leaders – will be funded utilizing federal funding from Title II and ESSER.

2023 Building Program Moves Forward Following Successful Bond

Thank you caption graphic for May 2023 Bond Election checks by Propositions A, B, C

🎬 10.C.5. Consider Approval of Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for Architectural/Engineering Services for 2023 Building Program
🎬 10.C.6. Consider Approval of Selection of Construction Delivery Method for 2023 Building Program

Following the passing of all three propositions in the 2023 bond – according to unofficial results from the Saturday, May 6 election – the Board approved two steps Thursday night that allow the district to start the vetting process for architects, engineers and construction contractors for projects included in the 2023 Building Program. 

Because no funds are committed, nor contracts signed with this initial step, they are permissible to happen before the Board is scheduled to canvass the vote and make results official at the May 16 special meeting.

Outlined projects in the 2023 Building Program include the following new facilities:

  • Elementary School #31
  • Elementary School #32
  • Science Materials Center and Special Education 18+ Transition Services Facility
  • Plant Services Mechanics Shop
  • Middle School #10 *
  • High School #7 *
  • Early College High School *

* actual construction costs would be included in a future bond

The 2023 Building Program also includes the following additions and renovations to existing facilities:

  • Leander High School Masterplan Redesign (Construction of Phase 1; Design for all phases)
  • Cedar Park High School Modernization
  • Vista Ridge High School Modernization
  • Running Brushy Middle School Modernization
  • Henry Middle School Modernization *
  • Bagdad Elementary School Modernization
  • Don Tew Performing Arts Center Modernization
  • South Performing Arts Center Modernization
  • Grandview Hills Site: IT Broadband Network Node; South Transportation Center; Plant Services Ancillary Renovation

* actual construction costs would be included in a future bond

The district anticipates bringing back recommendations at the Aug. 10 meeting for additional Board action. Visit the Bond 2023 Detailed Project Notes document for full descriptions about each of the projects listed above and all of the items included in the 2023 bond election.

Campus-Based Program Offerings Compared to School of Choice Options

Programs of Study graphic

🎬 10.A.2. Discussion of Leander ISD Programs

Leander ISD provides a variety of programs for students in Prekindergarten through 12th grade. Current programs available in Leander ISD include unique campus-based programs, Career and Technical Education programs, and schoolwide programs. 

In addition to programs, the district provides a wide range of course offerings available to students, many of which can be found in the high school and middle school course catalogs

Differing from the programs described above, LISD also offers three Schools of Choice options: 

  • New Hope High School
  • Early College High School
  • Virtual Learning Academy

LISD defines a School of Choice as a public school offering specialized educational opportunities that utilize a non-conventional approach designed to meet diverse needs and interests of students throughout the LISD community. A School of Choice becomes a student’s home campus.

Related Recent Updates

SHAC 2022–2023 Report

SHAC: Who Are We? graphic

🎬 10.A.1. 2022-2023 School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) Annual Report

Subcommittee members of the Student Health Advisory Committee made recommendations to the Board regarding:

  • Physical Activity and Nutrition
  • Social and Emotional Well-being
  • Protection of Marginalized Population
  • Human Sexuality

The Board will review the recommendations and then direct district administration if any action should be taken. Details of the recommendations can be found in the SHAC presentation.

Southwest Foodservice Excellence (SFE) Returns as Food Service Company Under New Contract

🎬 10.C.2. Consider Approval of Food Service Management Contract

The Board approved the district’s recommendation to bring back Southwest Foodservice Excellence (SFE) as its food service provider. This recommendation comes after a formal Request for Proposal process in which a district committee reviewed submissions from three food service management companies, along with the approval of SFE by the Texas Department of Agriculture.

The term of the agreement will last one year with 4 one-year extensions optional.

Additional information will be provided to current Child Nutrition Services (CNS) employees about the transition from Sodexo to SFE.

LISD Welcomes New Principal at Wiley Middle School

Announcing Wiley Middle School Principal Darla Smith

Leander ISD is pleased to announce Darla Smith as the Wiley Middle School Principal after the Board approved the recommendation at Thursday’s Board meeting.

“Darla is a focused leader who values and understands that relationships coupled with consistent and high expectations drive positive school culture,” Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D., said. “We look forward to seeing her journey continue with LISD and in the Rouse feeder pattern.”