Budget, tax relief and instructional materials were agenda highlights for the August 1 Board of Trustees meeting as Leander ISD prepares for students to return on August 15.
Budget discussion brings tax relief
The Leander ISD Community should see tax relief as the state legislature and Board of Trustee take action concerning property taxes. LISD already grants $10,000 tax exemptions to disabled individuals and individuals age 65 or older. Trustees approved an additional $3,000 tax exemption for both of these groups. This action comes in addition to relief granted by the state with House Bill 3, which requires all districts to compress their tier one tax rate.
In calculating the tax rate for Leander ISD, the proposed operating budget is based on the maintenance and operations (M&O) tax rate of $0.97, down from $1.04. The Board is also considering a quarter-penny reduction to the interest and sinking (I&S) tax rate, setting the rate at $0.4675.
“It’s critical that we acknowledge the financial pressures of our community and respond when we can do so,” said Board President Trish Bode. “This is a way to do that as a part of our responsibility to taxpayers.”
Budget discussion circles around security initiatives, additional employee benefits
With just over $2 million of available funds in the 2019-20 budget, Trustees continued the discussion around security items and new academic programs.
The Board will consider adding new security cameras, hiring School Resource Officers (SROs) for middle schools and implementing the A+ Academics program for elementary schools. As LISD manages the transition to a new superintendent, the Board may place funding for those projects in an undesignated or deferred fund to allow further discussion.
As community members brought forth concerns about fees for staff members wanting to bring personal refrigerators, the Board discussed removing collected fees from the budget, totaling approximately $33,000. This would allow administration to create a policy for allowing staff members to have personal electrical devices.
“I appreciate the ways our district has supported our teachers and staff,” Trustee Elexis Grimes said. “When we look at additional fees for teachers, do we want to consider this as a benefit or consider other items? I think we need to consider more unique ways to support our teachers.”
District to review instructional materials for 19 content areas
Teachers, parents and instructional leaders will be working together to review new instructional materials across various humanities and English Language Arts (ELA) content areas for the 2020 school year.
Content areas for the 2020 Technology and Instructional Materials Adoption (TIMA) process include:
- English Language Arts and Reading I-IV;
- Reading I-III;
- College Readiness and Study Skills;
- Visual and Media Analysis and Production;
- Contemporary Media;
- Literary Genres;
- Creative Writing;
- Research and Technical Writing;
- Practical Writing Skills;
- Public Speaking I, II, III;
- Advance Broadcast Journalism I, II, III;
- Advance Journalism: Yearbook I, II, III;
- Advance Journalism: Newspaper I, II, III;
- Advance Journalism: Literary Magazine;
- English for Speakers of Other Languages, English I, II, ELDA;
- English Learners Language Arts, 7-8.
“Engaging our community throughout this process is critical as we consider new materials for our classrooms,” Trustee Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia said. “We are excited for our team to launch this process and engage with our teachers and parents.”
The Teaching and Learning team increased teacher and community involvement in their process for TIMA adoptions, including district and campus committees, as well as the Districtwide Educational Improvement Council (DWEIC) and a Citizens’ Curriculum Advisory Committee, involving teachers and parents throughout the entire district.