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Board eyes accountability, staffing changes

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

In an effort to expedite their monthly business meetings, the Lockhart Independent School District Board of Trustees has taken to holding workshops on the third Monday of each month, hearing information and preparing for additional questions during their regular business meeting.

Monday’s Board W

orkshop focused primarily on accountability ratings within the District, and particularly the appearance of three LISD campuses on the Texas Education Agency’s “Public Education Grant” (PEG) list.

Different from the State’s accountability ratings on the STAAR test, the PEG list is meant to notify parents of campuses with passing rates on the STAAR test in any two of the three preceding years, as well as those which were rated “Improvement Required.”

Bluebonnet Elementary, Navarro Elementary and Lockhart High School each made an appearance on the list, which includes nearly 1,200 campuses, or about one-fifth of schools in the state of Texas.

“We were prepared for this, and we knew it was coming,” Board Vice President Brenda Spillmann said. Trustee Tom Guyton agreed, noting the way accountability ratings were structured for the inaugural year of the STAAR test was weighted against districts throughout the state.

Dr. Pam Johnson, the Director of Secondary Curriculum, noted the PEG standards are weighted on different indices than the State Accountability Ratings, and that though LISD campuses were noted on the current PEG list, parents have nothing to fear for their children’s educations.

“Bluebonnet, for instance, was still above the state target of 55 percent passing, but because the science score was lower than 50 percent, they’re on the list,” she said. “Once all the scores are aggregated, they made the state target and exceeded it.”

Not so with the Lockhart High School scores, which noted a 45 percent passing rate on the Algebra portion of the STAAR. However, because testing for Algebra occurs at the Freshman level, and the freshmen are separated from the rest of the high school population, there appears to be a penalty toward Lockhart High.

“Most of the students who failed at the high school were re-testers,” Johnson said. “If those scores had been combined with the first-time testers, if we had a 9-12 campus, they would have been over the percentage.”

Still the low performance ratings at the high school have sparked concern, and local social media was alive on Wednesday morning with rumors of a new principal being assigned to Lockhart High.

That idea might not sit well with the Board.

“I don’t think anyone should be thrown under the bus, especially our staff,” Spillmann said to her colleagues. “There are so many variables, and it takes time to build a program.”

Board Secretary Jon Reyes agreed.

“Teachers and administrators are always held accountable,” he said. “We always want and expect the best from them, and we see that through the work they do. Our teachers have worked hard, but because of the change in the system, there were some areas that needed improvement. When you don’t know the expectations, you can only do so much.”

The expectations Reyes referred to notes the lack in information on the first round of STAAR testing as to what the test would cover, or how it would be scored.

In other business, the Trustees discussed the possibility of allocating $13,450 in funding for tuition for students to attend the National Hispanic Institute’s Great Debate and Lorenzo de Zavala Youth Legislative Session.

The conferences, which Superintendent Rolando “Rudy” Trevino said take place at different times throughout the country, are open to several students. He chose not to expand on how the students are chosen for their participation, but said he would invite representatives from NHI to the regular meeting next week to discuss the selection process, and how the seminars are funded.

The funds the Trustees will consider are expected to fund tuition for ten students to each program, or a total of 20 students this year.

After covering matters of routine business, the board convened in executive session to discuss the potential purchase of property for a new elementary school, as well as the evaluation process for the Superintendent.

The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees holds their routine business meeting on the fourth Monday of each month in the Conference Center at Lockhart High School. However, because of the Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday, this month’s meeting will be held on Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 6:30 p.m. The meetings are also available online at www.lockhartisd.org.

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