F. A. C. E. Forward for Leander ISD
As a lifelong learner and longtime volunteer in the district, I have a track record of dedication to student success, support for educators, and engaging with families. As I focus on the issues in view of the Leander ISD guiding documents, imagine what we can achieve together for the benefit of our students and educators. I ask that you entrust me to stay on as your LISD Trustee in this critical November 2022 election as we F.A.C.E. forward for LISD!
Safe and Innovative Learning Environments is one of the focus areas of the LISD strategic plan. Student safety on and near campuses as they make their way to and from school is a concern. The safety of classrooms in portables is also of concern.
Some schools are either currently overcrowded or are trending toward being overcrowded, enrollment in some schools are trending downward, and some schools are expected to maintain stable enrollment. After the failure of the November 2021 bond proposition to fund construction of more schools, I have remained firm that those within 2 miles of school / in the Not Eligible for Transportation (NETZone) should not be rezoned. The loss of the neighborhood school concept with students spending more time commuting on a school bus is unacceptable.
While committees, such as Long-Range Planning, work on a plan for efficient facility usage with programs of interest/schools of choice, the board is working towards a May 2023 bond election. Personally, I expect a November 2022 bond election to be more successful due to higher voter turn out and more voter education.
It is important for a Trustee to understand the intricacies of school finance in order to make decisions that help, and not hurt, the district. I have quickly come up to speed on school finance and continue to seek out opportunities for system efficiencies on both revenue and expense sides.
It might be puzzling as to why increases in property values do not translate to more revenue for the school district. This frequently asked question is covered in Smart Money.
I believe that community education on school finance will lead to more widespread advocacy for better school funding formulas. Also, voters will be well-educated when the board calls for a Voter-Approval Tax Rate Election (VATRE) and Attendance Credit Election (ACE). A VATRE and ACE benefit the community and school district funding, although the legislature has mandated ballot language which might otherwise create confusion.
Equitable Access is a focus area of the LISD strategic plan. Leander ISD is known for student achievements at state and national levels in academic programs, fine arts & performing arts, band, sports, extracurriculars, career & technical education (CTE), military readiness, and more. Every child should have an opportunity to participate in these activities, set and meet stretch goals, and excel according to the Leander guiding documents.
Emerging from COVID has brought on the urgency of ensuring every student is thriving. As Literacy Partners resume reading time with students, it’s worth the look to add a “Numeracy Partners” program to help students with Math. A learning environment for students to excel also involves equipping students with Social Emotional Learning (SEL) skills as outlined by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).
Every student needs the skills and growth mindset to adapt to a changing future. As the tech industry continues its fast growth in Central Texas, we should collaborate with businesses and local chambers to craft programs that expand industry certifications available to our students.
As a Trustee, I advocate for our students and educators with the district administration. Empowered Staff is a focus area of the Leander ISD strategic plan.
There are opportunities to be efficient with revenue and expenses, but $8,400 per student is woefully low funding from the state. A sustainable plan is to advocate for the Texas legislature:
- to increase the basic allotment and funding to increase teacher and staff pay, all with annual adjustments for regional cost of living increases,
- for accountability and transparency on recapture funds, and
- to switch from attendance-based funding to enrollment-based funding, and
- fund currently unfunded mandates such as full-day PreK, Reading Academies, HB 4545 tutoring.
Empowered Student Learning is a focus area of the LISD strategic plan. My school visits have informed on provisions for different learning styles and deeper learning such as project-based learning, Makerspaces, and inquiry-based learning. It’s important to review program/curriculum effectiveness and opportunities for adoption and enhancement at all levels.
I started following Leander ISD school board meetings over three (3) years ago and I’ve witnessed community members reading portions of books they find objectionable. This practice escalated in recent times, beginning with books that the board approved for high school book clubs in early 2020. Given the size and diversity of Leander ISD, families have differing opinions as to what content to expose their children. I found this FAQ by TASB Legal Services is a good resource that informs on the law, policy, and procedures available to protect one’s own child according to their values.
I value the student voice and have listened to students on and off campus. I found that they value reading about characters just like them, or reading about issues that they’ll never learn about in school curriculum but might face. The district’s highly trained and experienced Librarians select thousands of books according to professional standards. Many of the same texts in question have gathered dust for several years in school district libraries across the county, state, and country. Local Policy exists to enable a cross-section of the community decide whether the book, considered in its entirety, should be removed from all students.
It’s important to maintain effective methods of communications on issues vital to our students, educators, community, and district. Education is a partnership between students, educators, and families. I am committed to transparency and take advantage of two-way communications by responding to emails, engaging with the attendees during breaks at board meetings, seeking out feedback from the community, and participating in board café sessions. I am also accessible by phone and social media.
Families need to be informed about what they can do to enhance the student experience and success. For example, the many wonderful programs and opportunities for student academics, extracurriculars, the basics of school funding, the exact time attendance is taken and the money effect on funding and teacher pay, elections with long-term consequences (such as bonds, VATRE* and ACE*). These are all opportunities to inform and engage often with the community.
* Voter-Approval Tax-Rate Election and *Attendance Credit Election.
Impactful Family Engagement is a focus area of the Leander ISD strategic plan. Strengthening relationships and collaboration between families and teachers is important for sharing the responsibility for student success. Inclusive environments and strong communication are important to ensure all families can participate in strengthening partnerships with their schools.
There have been opportunities for parent involvement on campus and easy access to campus teachers and staff who are a quick email away. However, as we emerge from the pandemic there are increased situations that can benefit from community engagement. Parents can engage through PTA, serve as volunteers, or become a substitute teacher.
As a Trustee, I have sought committee participation from community members that bring diverse representation across the district.
Empowered Staff is a focus area of the LISD strategic plan, and educators need the resources to be successful.
As a parent, for several years I provided regular assistance to teachers whether or not they were not my kids’ teachers. Even with a full-time corporate job, I provided classroom help such as hosting reading groups and math activities, preparing Wednesday folders, writing grants, and providing increased PTA classroom funding.
As a Trustee, I listen to educators for their needs and advocate for resources. To support teachers means to support their jobs, support actions that increase pay and provide classroom resources, and ensure they are respected and valued.
Educators play a vital role in student excellence. It’s important to demonstrate that we value our educators – in not just words, but in action! Compensation should reward tenure and provide opportunities for teachers to earn more with training and mentoring programs.
Bonds, VATRE* and ACE* are critical components of supporting educators. These options provide environments conducive to educating/student learning, such as manageable classroom sizes, and begin to address the pay that the educators deserve.
* Voter-Approval Tax-Rate Election
* Attendance Credit Election