Leander ISD Board of Trustees reviewed the district’s Launch to Learning plan for Phase 2 of in-person learning, considered changing its meeting schedule and looked ahead to the next round of elementary school zoning at its agenda review meeting Thursday night.  

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Trustees examine district plan for the next phase of Launch to Learning in-person instruction 

As the first group of students wanting to learn in-person was set to complete its second week on campuses, Trustees inquired about the district’s Launch to Learning efforts. The district’s teaching environment, custodial services, attendance numbers and progress benchmarks were among the topics of conversation.

“Our ultimate metric is the goal to stay open,” Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D., said. “If we spike too many cases or quarantine too many teachers or staff members, that’s going to force us to start closing classrooms, closing schools and potentially the district. Our goal is to stay open at all levels. So our metric is how to manage that and keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.”   

The discussion comes as the district remains on track to move to its next phase of in-person learning. Phase 2 adds the following groups of students that wish to return to in-person learning:

  • 2nd, 7th and 12th grades
  • Students receiving direct dyslexia services
  • Children of substitute teachers

Phase 3, including 3rd, 8th and 11th grade would report to campus Sept. 28 with the rest of the grades (4th, 5th and 10th) completing the phase-in process on Oct. 5. Virtual Empowered Learning will continue throughout the school year for those students that choose that option.  

The district spoke about the upcoming improvements coming with licensed Zoom accounts, shared strategies for covering classrooms when teachers are in quarantine or leave, and provided data on positive COVID-19 cases and exposures in schools, which is shared weekly on the COVID-19 dashboard

Board considers changes to its meeting schedule 

The Board discussed a revised board meeting schedule and format that will make more efficient use of meeting time. With the challenges of gathering virtually during the pandemic and following multiple meetings going well past midnight, Trustees preferred to meet primarily on the second and fourth Thursday of the month. Instead of an agenda review (non-voting) meeting followed by a regular (voting) meeting, Trustees will have a rolling agenda, where topics would be added to a meeting for discussion and voted on at the next. The Board could finalize a new schedule at their next meeting. 

District to begin elementary school zoning process for 2021–22 school year

District administration detailed its plans to begin preparing elementary attendance zones in preparation for the opening of Nancy Tarvin Elementary School in 2021–22. In order to give potentially affected families time to prepare for elementary zone changes, the planning will commence in October after receiving the 2020 demographic update from Population and Survey Analysts.

“We have heard loud and clear that the priorities for our community in this process are keeping our elementary schools at a reasonable size and keeping neighborhoods together,” Board President Trish Bode said. “As a fast-growth district, we know these zoning boundary changes will continue, but those guidelines will help us do that in keeping with what matters most to our families.”

In February 2020, the Board of Trustees approved the Attendance Zoning Charter to be used for the development of proposed elementary attendance zones. In March, staff published its first scenario to the community and opened a ThoughtExchange survey for feedback. The survey was set to close at the end of Spring Break and staff would prepare to publish its next scenario. Due to the COVID-19 shutdown and subsequent challenges of preparing for the current school year, the process was placed on hold. 

Board to consider funding for water bottle filling stations

Water bottle filling stations could be coming to all campuses if the Board approves reappropriating funding to cover 99 additional stations. Under the plan, the schools would each have: 

  • two stations at elementary schools, 
  • four stations at middle schools, and 
  • eight stations at high schools. 

The stations would be installed by January 2021. Campuses with existing water stations would not get additional stations. The Board will vote on the funding next week.

Trustees discuss district goals, core beliefs 

The Board considered adjustments to performance objectives under its seven adopted goals. The Board adopts an annual District Improvement Plan that includes goals and performance measures for success, which also sets a framework for Campus Improvement Plans (CIP) for each school.