Audit raises concerns about LISD
By LPR Staff
Continuing their commitment to providing the best education possible for Lockhart Independent School District students, the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees recently commissioned a “curriculum audit,” in hopes of receiving unbiased information about the arrangement and effectiveness provided by the
“An audit is a voluntary thing,” said Jeff Tuneberg with Curriculum Management Solutions. “It’s something that’s undertaken by a very brave school board, in an effort to find out how they can do things better.”
Though Tuneberg presented a thorough report, he noted an audit does not generally offer praise.
“We’re not allowed to tell you what you’re doing right,” he said. “If the buses are getting there on time, we can’t note that, because that’s something that we expect to happen.”
Instead, he said, the purpose of the audit is to instruct and inform the district about areas where improvements could be made. However, he also noted his observations during the audit last autumn yielded several positive things.
“We found that the people are committed, from the top right on down to the bottom, to doing whatever needs to be done to help the kids,” he said.
Other observations made through the process of the audit noted a lack of consistency in board and administrative policies, which caused instruction to be somewhat inconsistent from campus to campus.
“What you don’t want is each of the elementary schools doing something different, so that when the kids get to junior high, they are all over the place,” he said.
Those findings, among others presented during the lengthy presentation, are issues that the Board has begun to address in recent months, particularly with the possible engagement of Attendance Zones as Alma Brewer Strawn prepares to open next year.
Tuneberg recommended the Board considered revising or updating board policies and the District’s organizational chart to bring current curriculum and instruction in line with what the Board’s stated intentions.
Because the audit was a voluntary process, the Trustees were neither required, nor expected to take action on the audit immediately. Instead, Tuneberg said, the Trustees should look at the recommend steps provided in within his 200-page report, and determine the best course of action.
Those recommendations, he said, are based not specifically upon the District’s staffing, but on best practices throughout the industry. Because of those standards, he said, district’s who choose curriculum audits often find that instituting the recommendations creates an atmosphere of success that districts can replicate year after year.
Bohn noted that moving forward, the District’s leadership team will work closely with the Trustees, along with campus-level staff to discuss the audit report, and the proposed steps moving forward.
In related business, the Trustees voted 6-0-1 to hire a new Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction.
The decision, made after a lengthy executive session, brings former Lake Travis High School principal Kimberly Brents on board as the District’s Deputy Superintendent, the position left vacant after the retirement of longtime Deputy Superintendent Janie Wright in December.
“I am very excited to have Ms. Brents join our leadership team in this critical role,” Superintendent Susan Bohn said. “Teaching and learning is the backbone of all of the work that we do in our District. I am confident in her ability to work with our amazing instructional staff to do great things for our students and for the Lockhart ISD community.”
Brents has more than 20 years experience as an educator, and received both her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and her Master’s Degree in Educational Administration from Texas State University.
She has spent the bulk of her career in Central Texas, first as a teacher and coach in the Austin Independent School District, and later at Leander ISD. Upon her appointment as Lockhart’s Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, she announced that she will leave her current position as principal of Lake Travis High School on Feb. 19. She has held that position for nearly eight years.
She is expected to join the Lockhart ISD staff on Feb. 22, 2016.
Trustee Michael Wright chose to abstain from the vote.
In other news:
The Trustees heard an update about the progress of the committee currently meeting to discuss the possibility of establishing the creation of Elementary Attendance Zones for the District. The committee has been meeting weekly, and expects to release proposed Attendance Zone maps no later than Friday, Jan. 29.
A series of public meetings will be held to allow the community to provide comments about the proposed attendance zones with District Administration. The proposed zone maps will be posted on-line by 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, 2016. The meetings will be held at the following dates and times:
Monday, Feb. 1, 2016 – 6 p.m. at Bluebonnet Elementary, 211 S. Mockingbird Lane, Lockhart;
Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2016 – 6 p.m. at Navarro Elementary (Spanish speakers), 715 Medina, St. Lockhart; or Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016 – 6 p.m. at Dale Community Center (English and Spanish), 100 Civic Dr. Dale.
The District will compile the public input and share the information with the Attendance Zone Advisory Committee. After reviewing all public input and other pertinent information, a preliminary recommendation by the Committee will be presented to the Board of Trustees at the regularly scheduled Board meeting on Feb. 29, 2016. The Committee will make a final recommendation at the regularly scheduled Board meeting on March 28, 2016. To provide input electronically, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Trustees were recognized by groups of students from every campus level as a part of School Board Appreciation Month. The theme of this year’s celebration was “Super-Heroes,” and students from every grade level performed skits and songs, and presented gifts to the “superheroes” on the Board.
In brief news:
The Trustees approved several timelines and purchase plans regarding equipment and furnishings at campuses Districtwide. Among those plans, the Trustees heard information about outfitting Alma Brewer Strawn Elementary after its construction is completed later this year, and several capital improvement projects that are slated for this summer.
They recognized the Lockhart Junior High School Robotics team, which has recently dominated competitions throughout Central Texas. The Team, which drew praise from members of the public, is the first of its kind at Lockhart Junior High School, and is built to encourage students to seek careers in robotics and engineering.
The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees routinely meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Library at Lockhart Junior High School. The meetings are open to the public, and are webcast at www.lockhartisd.org.