What comes next? The Leander ISD Board of Trustees discussed the district’s next steps for responding to the coronavirus global pandemic as the number of confirmed cases across the United States continues to grow. Travis and Williamson counties are under shelter-in-place orders through April 13.
In a virtual meeting, the Board advised the district to extend the closure of normal school operations through April 13 to align with the counties’ directive, while also preparing families, students, and staff for a closure that could continue past that date.
The Board also extended the contract for SFE for child nutrition services, approved new instructional materials for high school English Language Arts classes, and hired a new principal for Laura Welsh Bush Elementary School.
Next Steps for COVID-19 Response
Take care of people, align with counties and return to school buildings when it’s safe, advised the Board during its discussion for the district’s next steps in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am in awe daily of the heroic efforts of our staff, and I am so thankful for our supportive Leander ISD family, including, of course, our parents and students,” Board President Trish Bode said. “We are better together even when it is virtual. Even though we are in uncharted territory, we will keep moving forward as our foundation is still the same. “
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, Trustees encouraged the district to:
- ensure students who need meals can access our child nutrition program;
- prepare for remote learning and remote work under multiple scenarios, including extension past the summer;
- consider grading, grade-point-average (GPA), and class rank;
- continue to keep open lines of communication with families and the community; and
- monitor budget and construction implications.
While the state continues to provide funding for schools at normal levels, the district feels like we should be able to continue paying employees and functioning financially. But, the next legislative session will be critical for long term financial stability, as well as the impact on property values and appraisals for local tax collections.
Regarding construction, crews continue to work on projects, which are operating as essential work during the shelter-in-place directive. The impact of COVID-19 on global supply chains for materials, such as furniture and building supplies, may result in construction delays. At this point, the district is still on schedule with its projects in place.
SFE to Continue Serving School Meals in 2020–2021
The Board extended the contract for Southwest Foodservice Excellence (SFE) through the 2020–2021 school year. A third-party contractor, SFE provides breakfast and lunch services in all LISD schools. They have been recognized for excellence at the national level.
New Instructional Materials Coming to High School English Language Arts Classes in 2020–2021
After an extensive review by classroom teachers and the public, the Board approved the purchasing of new instructional materials for middle and high school English Language Arts classes, including:
- 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;
- Advanced Broadcast Journalism I, II, III;
- Yearbook I, II, III;
- Advanced Journalism:
- Newspaper I, II, III;
- Advanced Journalism: Literary Magazine;
- English for Speakers of Other Languages, English I, II, ELDA; and
- English Learners Language Arts, 7-8.
Westside Assistant Principal Set to Lead Laura Bush Elementary School
Jon Bailon-Valdez will be the next principal at Laura Bush Elementary School. The Board hired Bailon-Valdez, currently the assistant principal of Westside Elementary School and a former assistant principal at all levels in El Paso. His education career started as an elementary school teacher. He has both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas-El Paso (UTEP), and he’s pursuing his doctorate from New Mexico State University.