Leander ISD Trustees welcomed two newly elected Board members, approved a stipend for all employees to cover expenses incurred during the pandemic, and explored changes to the district policy regarding grading point average and class rank at their Nov. 19 meeting.  

View the entire agenda here. Watch the video here.

Trustees Christine Mauer and Anna Smith join the Board, Trustee MacKay sworn in for second term  

Trustees welcomed two newly elected Board members to the dais, Christine Mauer (Place 3) and Anna Smith (Place 4). In addition, Trustee Jim MacKay was sworn in for his second term in office.

Trustee Mauer, a former instructional assistant and current active volunteer leader in the Vista Ridge Band Boosters, math pentathlon teams, and PTA, outlined her admiration for public education in the Trustees’ discussion on core beliefs.

“I believe the best is yet to come,” Mauer said. “A collaborative environment fosters the best outcome for all. Understanding where someone is coming from and giving them the grace and the space to be a part of the collaborative process is important as we move forward as a Board and as a district. The benefit of a strong school district is a well-educated, well-rounded society. The greater good is counting on us to be collaborative in our work and I look forward to working with all of you to move our district forward.”

Trustee Smith, a longtime district PTA volunteer and advocate for special education outreach, spoke of the importance of inclusion and serving the whole child.

“I think about our personal experience in this district,” Smith said. “Relationships matter. We nurture the whole child and make sure that each child has an opportunity each day to learn and perform at their best. I see the amazing things that can happen when you have collaboration between parents and this district.”

Mauer, Smith and MacKay will serve four year terms in their at-large seats, which means they represent the entire district. 

With new Trustees starting, the Board continued its work on core beliefs to set up future discussions on vision and goals.  

Board approves amended compensation plan that includes PPE stipend for employees

The Board approved an administration recommendation to pay all employees an $800 Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) stipend to cover employee expenses for PPE during the pandemic.

The Compensation Plan adopted by the Board in May 2020 outlined a 2% one-time payment to employees based on the criteria that student enrollment met or exceeded 41,300 as of the PEIMS snapshot date (Oct. 30, 2020). Because enrollment is about 1,000 students short of this number, the 2% one-time payment isn’t an option. In order to honor employees’ PPE expenses during the pandemic, the administration is recommending a PPE stipend payment in lieu of the 2% one-time payment.

This one-time $800 PPE stipend payment will be paid to eligible full-time employees (FTE) as outlined in the LISD Compensation Plan. An employee who is employed as a 0.5 FTE or less will receive half of the payment. The payment will be made in  December 2020 to all employees who are employed by the district at the time the payment is authorized by the Board.

“The Board recognized this is not a normal year and unanimously supported the stipend payment,” Board President Trish Bode said. “This PPE stipend is a part of a larger package of recommendations intended to help support our amazing teachers and awesome staff during this unprecedented time.” 

The budget currently includes $5.4 million that would have covered the 2% one-time payment. This amount covers the recommendation of an $800 payment to all employees as well as the estimated cost of hiring a third party vendor to provide substitute teachers at a 100% fill rate. 

During teacher listening sessions held across the district, administration heard from many of the need for additional substitutes and disappointment that employees were not going to see the 2% one-time payment. This payment is not considered salary; therefore, it is not eligible for credit in accordance with the Teacher Retirement System.

District explores changes to grade point average, class rank calculation for Class of 2025

Changes could be coming in how the district considers Grade Point Average (GPA) and establishes class rank, which will allow students to take more courses in which they are interested.

A recommendation from a community committee proposed changes for students entering the ninth grade during the 2021–22 (class of 2025) school year and beyond. The committee recommended the following updates to board policy EIC (Local). 

Courses included in the calculation of the weighted GPA will include up to eight semesters in each of the four core areas of English, mathematics, science and social studies and up to four semesters of languages other than English.

The district will report class rank for the top 10% of students in each class. Each class will be notified of the lowest weighted GPA for the top 10% as well as the first, second and third quartiles. 

Students who participate in activities including athletics, fine arts, or four year CTE programs of study will have the opportunity to continue to participate in the programs without the concern that their GPA and class rank will be impacted by taking an unweighted course. These students will have the opportunity to remain competitive for top 10% and recognition as the valedictorian and salutatorian recognition. 

A committee of board members, students, teachers, parents, counselors and administrators considered student choice, the whole child and a well-rounded graduate as the guiding principles in recommending the policy change.

“This gives our students flexibility,” Trustee Aaron Johnson said. “Those who are chasing class rank and GPA can continue to do so, but have some added flexibility to do other things that help them feel engaged and involved on their campus.” 

The Board could vote to adopt the policy change at its Dec. 17 meeting.

Board names two principals to lead Plain, Tarvin elementary schools   

Trustees announced the hiring of two elementary principals to serve in the northern part of the district.

Erika Cruz will serve as Plain Elementary’s next principal, joining the district after stints as an elementary school assistant principal in both Round Rock and Pflugerville ISDs. Cruz replaces outgoing principal Evelyn Crisp, who is retiring in December. 

Christy Hilbun will open Nancy Tarvin Elementary as its first campus leader. Hilbun comes to Tarvin Elementary School after leading Bagdad Elementary as principal for the past four years. Hilbun will continue to lead Bagdad during her transition to the new campus. The district is currently determining the school attendance zones for Tarvin ES, which will be located near the Palmera Ridge subdivision in Leander.