At Tuesday’s Special Board Meeting, the Leander ISD Board of Trustees and Superintendent expressed their strong desire for reciprocal communication with the community – listening and collaborating with them – to achieve the best possible outcomes for each region of our #1LISD family.
Proposition A in the May 6 bond election includes a combined $161 million for repurposing projects. During the meeting, Superintendent Bruce Gearing, Ed.D., led a presentation to members of the Board that allowed for a thoughtful, comprehensive approach to what repurposing looks like and discussed how best to move forward – a process that keeps community involvement as the cornerstone.
“We have listened to the community, and we understand that there is a strong desire to keep neighborhood schools open,” Gearing said. “We believe that there are ways to repurpose campuses that keep schools open while addressing district needs and also bringing some exciting, engaging new opportunities to neighborhood schools.
“For example, instead of closing underutilized schools and repurposing them for a different use, portions of those schools can be repurposed to achieve the goal of maximizing use of our facilities. If, however, a particular school’s community decides that it no longer makes sense for us to keep the school open, there is still the possibility of closing a school and repurposing the entire facility.”
Since the defeat of two propositions in a November 2021 bond election, Leander ISD leaders have made concerted efforts to address the disparity in enrollment: a declining enrollment in some areas of the district and rapid enrollment growth in others, due in large part to the consistent construction of new homes. With uneven growth projected to continue, the district has been looking at ways to best use existing district facilities.
“We are unified in our goal to make use of our facilities in ways that serve students and families that reflect our hopes and dreams for #1LISD,” Board President Trish Bode said. “A part of our Core Beliefs is fostering meaningful, collaborative relationships with our community, and we are excited to move forward in a way that respects and builds on the vibrant school communities we have in LISD.”
If the bond passes, some projects that are unrelated to repurposing would start immediately this summer. The district would also be able to continue conversations with the community about the best way to implement the repurposing projects, while staying in the bounds of the bond order.
If the propositions fail, Leander ISD committed to continuing the conversation with our community. The district and the community would consider alternative options, including the possibility of:
- Increased utilization of portable buildings
- Implementing attendance rezoning districtwide, with a specific focus at the elementary level
- Reducing money available for day-to-day operational expenses due to funding projects through the Maintenance & Operations side of the tax rate.
- Utilizing fund balance, which is typically reserved for emergencies.
- Proposing future bond elections
- Extending renovation and replacement cycles for buildings and equipment
- Potentially closing underutilized schools, but without the money to repurpose them.
In an effort to continue the conversations, the district is hosting a community forum on Wednesday, April 12, at Vandegrift High School from 7-8:30 p.m. The district is also offering dedicated time to specifically address repurposing during our Bond Town Hall meeting at Cedar Park High School on Monday, April 17, at 6 p.m.