During its May 6 Leander ISD Board of Trustees meeting, the Board approved raises as part of a 2021–22 compensation plan, offered feedback on LISD’s priorities in special education and early childhood programs, and reviewed our district’s plans to expand after-school enrichment and care programs.

View the entire agenda here. Watch the video here. 

Trustees approve raises as part of the 2021–22 compensation plan  

The Board approved salary increases for all employees next school year, keeping Leander ISD as one of the top-paying Austin-area districts for teachers and instructional staff. 

Trustees approved a 2% of midpoint (approximately $1,138 for teachers/librarians, nurses, and counselors) across-the-board increase for all employees and other scale and stipend adjustments. The Board also authorized the ability to add additional compensation at a later date, if the district hits various enrollment or economic parameters. 

“It’s vital that we acknowledge and support our tireless teachers and staff any way we can, including financially,” Board President Trish Bode said. “This is a positive first step and the Trustees will continue to look for ways to compensate our resourceful and resilient LISD family that has overcome so much this school year. We are focused on doing so in financially responsible ways as we work together to tackle the challenges that go with the distinction of being a destination district for families.”

As part of our annual compensation plans, we conduct in-depth salary scale reviews on a rotating basis. This year we reviewed the Office/Paraprofessional and Auxiliary scales and are recommending additional modifications to the scales with a cost of $1 million. This recommendation will improve these scales’ market position and stay within the current budget assumptions.

Special Programs team continues to focus on communication, parent partnerships      

As we engage with parents about their child’s receipt of special education and special program services, LISD is continuing to implement recommendations in a third-party review from 2020.

Executive Director of Special Programs Kimberly Waltmon presented an update on the district’s progress to address the seven recommendations from that report, known as the COPIA Report. The report focused on the actions of the special programs to address communication, parental engagement, and professional development for inclusive classrooms. 

District considers expanding communities for early childhood 

Starting next year, the district will combine the special education programs (ELE and ESLE) for our youngest learners with the PreK communities available at 16 elementary schools. This marks the most recent step we’ve taken since our launch in 2015 to create PreK communities that are inclusive and collaborative for all early childhood students (ages three through five). 

Four new elementary campuses (Cypress, Deer Creek, Tarvin, Winkley) will join a dozen others in offering inclusive Early Childhood Communities, featuring early childhood special education services with students that do not receive services. The combining of these programs optimizes opportunities for all students by maximizing district facilities, materials, and support, as well as by fostering collaboration among general education and special education childhood teachers. 

“One of the primary purposes of the preschool experience is to develop a strong social-emotional foundation for future school engagement and quality of life,” Trustee Anna Smith said. “An inclusive preschool community integrates special education and related services into all aspects of the daily program. Early intervention and education for children with disabilities can have a positive impact on a child’s cognitive and social development. When a collaborative teaching model between special education and general education works, the benefits for our LISD students are endless.”

Early childhood staff gathered input from stakeholders this spring, engaging in multiple discussions with the Special Education PTA, teachers, and principals. The team also reached out to each family that would potentially be impacted to explain the proposal, answer questions, and begin establishing relationships with our parent partners. 

Trustees share an update from the state Capitol    

With the 87th Texas Legislature set to complete its regular session May 31, the Board’s Legislative Committee (Trustees Bode, Grimes and Smith) has had numerous meetings to monitor the progress and support legislation that makes a difference for our students and taxpayers. During the meeting, trustees Bode and Smith detailed these efforts to advance our legislative priorities

Campus activities team expands after-school enrichment programs      

After more than a year of review and planning, Director of Campus Activities Jody Hormann detailed how the district’s after-school programs will be providing more opportunities for students in the 2021–22 school year.

Our longstanding partnership with the YMCA will allow the district to offer in-person courses (arts & crafts, LEGO/robotics, chess, multi-sport, dance, cooking, Spanish), while LISD teachers will also have the opportunity to host in-person courses. We plan to offer a few of the more asynchronous courses districtwide and will continue to partner with vendors to fill areas of high interest.

Families can expect more details closer to the start of the next school year.

Experienced leader joins area superintendent team      

With more than a quarter-century of public school experience and leadership, Heather Sánchez will join LISD as its newest area superintendent. Mrs. Sánchez comes to LISD from Bellevue School District near Seattle, WA. The New Mexico native is familiar with central Texas, having spent her summers growing up with her grandparents in the Marble Falls area. Welcome, Mrs. Sánchez!