On June 6, 2023, the district’s Long-Range Planning Committee began its journey with a newly expanded membership of 61 participants – 10 students, 26 parents, 4 community members, 3 board members, 11 campus staff, and 7 district staff. The committee agreed to meet monthly to review data, provide input, engage in shared learning, and discuss recommendations and solutions to address our growing student population. This first meeting brought opportunities for members to get to know each other, set norms for their time together, and walk through a historical review of the Long-Range Plan.
During the July 25 meeting, the team spent time revisiting group norms, reviewing the draft charter, and sharing an overview of the LRPC work for the fall semester. The district’s Chief Operations Officer Jimmy Disler facilitated discussions with the participants regarding future elementary campus sizes of 800 versus 1,000. Conversations and concerns were noted and discussed through table talks and principal feedback. At the end of the meeting, the committee called for a vote to make a recommendation with a majority proposing a campus size of 800.
On August 29, the committee began evaluating data, future enrollment projections, and potential attendance zoning scenarios to better understand our current reality and how to begin the discussion of addressing the overcrowding in the northern portion of the district. The committee used 2022 projections and zoning and a ThoughtExchange sampling to capture any new ideas. With $161 million included in the voter-approved May 2023 Bond available for repurposing/modernization, three options emerged:
- Repurpose Facilities; Leander Extended Opportunity Center (LEO) – Opens as Early Childhood Center (ECC) in 28-29 – two underutilized Cedar Park elementary campuses repurposed, move LEO to one of them and turn LEO into an Early Childhood Center (**assumption that community is supportive) and New Hope HS (NHHS) into the other repurposed building COST: $124M
- Build ECC at Halsey Site – Open 25-26 – no repurpose, build an Early Childhood Center & a NHHS campus in Leander COST: $130M
- Build an additional New Elementary School (ES) – “business as usual;” PreK communities continue, add an extra ES school (no land right now in the area needed) COST: $91M + NHHS new build ($70M) = $161M
At the September 19 meeting,
- The Director of Early Childhood, Erin Garner, engaged the committee in their request to learn more about Early Childhood Centers versus campus-based Early Childhood Communities.
- The subcommittee who is focused on researching and defining facility optimization presented their initial work regarding considerations for repurposing at this meeting.
- As discussions continued around the three options presented at the August 29 meeting, the committee brought forward a 4th option for consideration. Option 4 would be a hybrid of Options 1 and 2 – beginning with building an Early Childhood Center at a district-owned property called the Halsey site for $60M and considering other early childhood programs during the design phase, which leaves $101M for continued conversations with the community regarding repurposing. A committee member asked for the administration’s recommendation and then requested the committee take a vote. 39 members voted, with Option 4 receiving the majority at 35 votes.
At the most recent meeting held on October 17, committee members learned:
- the Bond Oversight Committee (BOC) approved LRPC’s Option 4 recommendation. This recommendation is now progressing to the Board of Trustees for approval at its October 26 meeting.
- The zoning process for elementary #30 has begun and a recommendation is scheduled to be brought back to the LRPC committee in November.
The team then broke out into the following subcommittees:
- Schools of Choice Policy Review/Development
- Considerations for Repurposing/Facility Optimization
- Community Conversations & Communications
assessing needs, identifying barriers, and asking questions in each area to prepare and inform our future work.
Overall, this engagement is a positive sign of continuing to build trust and relationships with our #1LISD community. Members play an active role in sharing their voice and choice for the future plans of the district. Some of the best ideas and authentic, inspired moments have come from the challenging, yet thoughtful conversations we have had over the past few months. We appreciate the good work of the LRPC and hope each member is aware of the positive contribution they are making for each and every student.