The Board of Trustees added special education staffing positions, reviewed a legislative update and considered potential changes to the district bell schedule at its Sept. 5 meeting.
Bell Schedule Committee report examines changes to school start/end times
The district will continue exploring changes to school start and end times for the 2020-21 school year with a recommendation deadline to come as early as December 2019.
The district is considering the following potential changes:
- moving from a 2-tier to a 3-tier transportation system, allowing for one driver to cover three routes versus the current 2-tier system;
- separating start times by 40 minutes per school level; and
- lengthening the school day.
“We’ve gathered a great deal of information, and we have some solutions to offer to the community for their consideration,” Trustee Pamela Waggoner said. “We can ask the question, ‘Here are the flaws, how do we fix it?’”
The committee, comprised of LISD administration staff, board members and a teacher, studied the impact of adjusting the LISD bell schedule on academics, parents/families, student activities and operations.
LISD staff has been considering adjustments to:
- meet the instructional needs of teachers to meet district and state standards;
- exceed requirements for special programs, such as International Baccalaureate and career technical program;
- allow more time for specials classes and social skills programs in elementary schools; and
- improve traffic congestion.
The district will present more details about the potential impacts of a change during a future Board meeting before collecting community impact.
Legislative update spotlights early childhood education
The district discussed new state requirements to expand pre-kindergarten offerings for qualified students from a half-day to a full day. The 86th Texas Legislature adopted House Bill 3 last spring, including a requirement and limited funding for early childhood education, including pre-k.
The new money provided by the state for pre-k does not meet the total costs for a program, including both operational and facility expenses tied to doubling the program. The district also believes the expansion to a full-day program will capture additional students. Less than 50 percent of eligible students living in LISD currently attend the pre-k program.
“The district is committed to providing a high-quality education for all students,” Board President Trish Bode said. “Full-day Pre-K is another way we will do that, and I look forward to the Board’s input as those plans are made.”
Special Education staffing increases according to need
Trustees approved 20 new special education positions as the district’s enrollment growth for special education services surpassed projections to start the school year.
The special education enrollment grew by 9.3%, higher than the projected increase of 6.9%. The new positions, totaling $926,871, will directly serve students at all levels in the following roles:
- 5 teachers,
- 1 speech-language pathologist,
- 1 elementary ARD facilitator,
- 1 high school ARD facilitator,
- 2 licensed specialists in school psychology, and
- 10 instructional assistants.
“I want to point out the funding we received from the state doesn’t cover all of this,” Trustee Gloria Gonzales-Dholakia said. “It was a one-time allotment we received. So that funding is not something we can expect for next year.”
The state allocated additional special education funding through Senate Bill 500. This new money is a one-time allotment totaling $663,540.