The Board of Trustees reviewed a proposed 2019–20 budget and tax rate adoption timeline, considered potential school of choice options, and received a construction update at its July 18 meeting. The meeting was the last for Superintendent Dan Troxell, Ph.D., who will start a new job with the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) on Aug. 1. The Board anticipates naming a finalist for his replacement later this month.

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Trustees examine potential budget, timeline for adoption of tax rate  

Expecting to add 1,000 new students and after approving significant compensation raises for teachers and staff, the Board moved closer to an adopted budget, to be finalized in August.

The proposed general operating budget is more than a 6% increase from the 2018–19 budget. Major factors for the increase include the need for additional personnel due to the projected enrollment growth and the opening of Larkspur Elementary School, as well as the pay increases to teacher and employee salaries and employer contribution to cover healthcare premiums. 

Due to House Bill 3, property taxpayers will see relief as the legislation 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.

“As we work to finalize our budget, the Board will need to go back and look at these numbers to consider the changes between 2019 and 2018,” said Board President Trish Bode. “We want to ensure we make the best decision possible for students as we prepare for adopting a budget on August 22.” 

LISD has been able to adopt a budget and a tax rate in August the past several years. Due to a delay in certified values from Travis County, it’s likely that a budget will be adopted in August while adopting the tax rate in September.

LISD North Transportation Center, Larkspur Elementary set to come online

Crews continued on the busiest construction year in the district’s history. Construction at Larkspur Elementary School and the North Transportation Center are on schedule to conclude well before school begins Aug. 15. In addition, crews continue work on Danielson Middle School for its opening before the 2020–21 school year.

Additions and renovations at various campuses continue as well, including:

  • Glenn HS Agriculture Facility 
  • Cedar Park HS Athletic Additions and Renovations, Security Upgrades and Softball Complex Safety Improvements 
  • Cedar Park MS HVAC Update and Security Upgrades 
  • Giddens ES HVAC Update
  • Leander HS Additions CTE Classrooms and Black Box Renovations, Additions and Renovations to Existing Ag Barn, Security Upgrades, and Softball Complex Safety Improvements 
  • Leander MS HVAC Update 
  • Vandegrift HS Classroom Additions, Incubator Renovation and Security Upgrades Construction 
  • Vista Ridge HS Additions JROTC Building Additions and Renovations, Incubator Renovations and Security Upgrades

“These projects will greatly enhance the educational experience – and the safety – of our students,” Trustee Jim MacKay said. “We will continue to provide oversight and assistance where needed to ensure that our learning spaces and support staff are well equipped.”

Trustees review potential “school of choice” options  

Trustees continued to discuss special, new school models. In an effort to increase options and opportunities for students, the Board of Trustees considered potential “Schools of Choice,” a term for schools with specialized educational offerings and learning environments outside traditional, comprehensive schools. 

A potential school choice program would aim to meet the diverse needs and interests of students while maximizing efficiency in the use of facilities and resources. The Board will continue discussing possible models for school choice as well as further evaluation of student, parents, community, teacher and staff feedback and data.

“Offering premium educational experiences for our students is at the heart of everything we do as a district,” Trustee Aaron Johnson said. “I’d like to see even more options beyond the three that were presented tonight.”