During its Oct. 13 meeting, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees agenda included: 

Spotlight on Learning: Danielson Middle School

Students from Danielson Middle School shared the story of their school’s namesake, Stacy K. Danielson, and the different ways they feel empowered to invest, encourage and impact.

Bear down, go ‘kats!

Board Recognition

The Leander ISD Board of Trustees celebrated National School Bus Safety Week through recognizing the tireless efforts of #1LISD’s bus drivers and staff. Transportation Director Myron Wilson offers words of gratitude for his hardworking team!

Impact of a Failed ACE Election: Forced Consolidation with Another District Likely Recourse

What if "ACE" election fails slide

🎬 8.B.1. Discussion of School Finance, Recapture, Attendance Credit Elections and Potential TEA Actions

On the ballot in the upcoming Nov. 8 election, one of the two propositions voters within Leander ISD boundaries will see is Proposition A, an Attendance Credit Election. This proposition allows voters to approve the process by which the school district makes mandatory recapture payments to the state.

At Thursday’s Board meeting, Trustees heard a report from Leo Lopez, the chief financial officer with Moak Casey, a consulting firm with expertise in the area of Texas school finance. In his report, Lopez detailed recapture, the mechanism by which school districts send excess tax collections to the state, and examined the potential outcomes should Proposition A not pass.

If the ACE election fails, the first option the state considers in extracting the amount owed through recapture is a detachment of territory. However, this detachment process – where the state would send a portion of the district’s property values to a different school district – has limits on the type of property that can be detached. Lopez’s analysis of LISD showed the district does not have the amount of eligible property needed for the state to go the detachment route. As a result, according to existing education code, the state’s next option would be to move to a forced consolidation with another school district.

Trustee Sade Fashokun asked Lopez about potential relief in the upcoming legislative session and if that could help the district avoid recapture. Lopez pointed out that while that could help future years, it would not have an immediate impact.

“Let’s say they do increase the basic allotment,” Lopez said. “That’s typically not effective until the following school year. You would still have the (recapture) problem of the 2022-23 school year.” 

While LISD could try to hold another ACE election in May 2023, Lopez said state officials have pointed out that nothing in statute or rule requires them to offer this additional opportunity to pass an ACE.

For more information about the ACE, along with the Proposition B: Voter-Approval Tax Rate Election, visit the Elections page.

Academic Performance Update

Early Childhood Reading scores

🎬 8.A.2. Academic Data Update: House Bill 3, Early Reading Instruments, IStation Indicator of Progress & Measures of Academic Progress

Trustees received an overview of student academic performance data on state and national standardized assessments from leaders within the district’s Teaching & Learning department.

In state accountability language, “Approaches” is the passing level, and “Meets” exceeds that passing level. The data presented to the Board in both Reading and Math reflected the elevated “Meets” level.

Zooming into the third grade year, LISD’s reading scores showed a slight dip in the 2020-21 school year and then a 9-point jump in 2021-22, an amount higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2018-19. In math, however, scores for 2021-22 sit 9 points below where they were in 2018-19.

“This is nationwide. This is not a Leander problem, this is not a Texas problem, this is a country problem, or a world problem, really,” Trustee Christine Mauer said. “During the pandemic, parents saw they could read to their children at home, but teaching math posed a bigger challenge.

“We can get kids back on track,” Mauer added, listing a number of interventions and programs available like Bridges Intervention and Math Pentathlon. “This is just going to take time.”

While state accountability scores reflect previous-year data from the STAAR test, the district uses Universal Screener data points from the beginning of the year to make instructional plans looking forward.

The overview also included college and career readiness data, along with student group breakdowns in each area.

“We do want to look at groups of students, but we also want to look at growth for each and every student and make individual plans to meet their needs,” said Jennifer Collins, the assistant superintendent of curriculum. “We believe that will also shift the data for each and every student group.”


State of the Transportation Department slide

🎬 8.C.2. Update on Transportation Services

A “State of the Transportation Department” presentation showed Trustees how they have developed a culture of being a destination department.

This 300-person department is responsible for 165 routes within LISD. Recent highlights include the districtwide rollout of SMART Tag, which helps keep parents, school administrators and the transportation team informed of the location of a school bus.

While lingering delays still exist – sporadically on some routes and consistently on others – the Transportation team reported routes are running on time 85 to 95 percent of the time, an improvement from previous years. Weekly evaluations of problematic routes have enabled the department to take a closer look and find solutions whenever possible.

“The level of attention to detail our bus drivers are providing for our students and for their families is evident,” Board President Trish Bode said. “I heard and saw that attention to detail when I attended the kick-off event for staff at the beginning of the year.”

Trustees Meet with Local Legislators to Discuss Board’s Legislative Priorities

Leander ISD Legislative Priorities

🎬 8.B.2. Legislative Update

Trustees on the legislative committee shared their experiences from a recent biannual legislative summit, where LISD officials met with local legislators and a host of education-related organizations.

Topics discussed included House Bill 4545, Reading Academies, impacts to the workforce and morale, unfunded mandates, enrollment funding instead of attendance funding, the basic allotment, and other legislative priorities outlined by the Board.

At the summit, Trustee Anna Smith highlighted the special education allotment, a source of school district funding from the state, and how this allotment has not been updated in 30 years in the midst of the increase of students being identified for special education.

“It was great to be in the room with our local elected officials,” Smith said. “We heard from our representatives that a lot of the calls they get – complaints, concerns – are in regards to special education. They understand the constraints that districts are under and also understand that parents are getting frustrated and what we need to do to help advocate.”

Board Secretary Elexis Grimes brought up the cost-of-living formulas used by the state, and the Austin area’s disadvantage compared to the state’s other metroplexes with formulas that have not been updated since 1999.

“I think that was really good insight for them to know we’re facing a challenge of rising inflation costs,” Grimes said, “and not being able to compete with the other metroplexes that get that bump in their funding formula.”

Academic Calendar Discussion for 2023-24

Academic Calendar draft

🎬 8.A.3. 2023-2024 Academic Calendar Discussion

The work on the 2023–24 academic calendar is in its preliminary stages as the Board looks to approve a calendar built around state-required and community feedback-driven parameters.

The district shared a tentative 2023-24 calendar back in January 2022, but it could not be approved at that time due to LISD’s need to renew its District of Innovation status. With that now renewed, Trustees shared feedback with the district on how to move forward in gathering community feedback before presenting a recommended version for the Board to approve. 

Board Receives Update on Intruder Detection Audits

🎬 8.C.1. Discussion of Districtwide Intruder Detection Audit Report Findings

The Texas School Safety Center recently conducted Intruder Detection Audits at seven of our campuses. The audits test whether a campus is accessible to an unauthorized individual. The audits, conducted as part of Governor Abbott’s school safety directives for all school systems following the tragedy in Uvalde, seeks to help districts identify how campuses can improve safety for students, such as ensuring exterior doors are locked. 

Of the seven campus audits, one had findings. One of the findings had to do with the malfunction of an exterior door. The door was locked, however, the latch would not engage. Since the audit, the latch was replaced immediately.

The state’s intruder detection audits are just one way to ensure the safety of our campuses. LISD knows training and a mindset of safety and security come from a culture of keeping students at the heart of what we do day in, day out.