Elementary to honor Strawn’s legacy
By LPR Staff
Longtime educator and community pillar Alma Brewer Strawn has been honored this week by the Lockhart Independent School District; the new elementary school in Lytton Springs will bear her name. The former fifth-grade teacher, who passed away in 2012, seemed the most obvious choice, if the campus was t
o be named after an individual, according to Trustees.
“One of the things that we were asked to consider was diversity,” said Tom Guyton. “And when we look at the names of the schools, we don’t have a campus that’s named for a woman.”
Former Lockhart City Councilmember Kenny Roland was also the subject of a community poll, asking for the community to choose their favorite from five potential names for the school. However, because Roland’s contributions focused primarily on the community, rather than the classroom, the Trustees opted not to name the school in his honor, instead encouraging the City of Lockhart to take steps toward an honorarium for Roland.
“I’m touched to see that my colleagues were taught by Mrs. Strawn,” Trustee Jessica Neyman said. “And I think it’s special that she made the impact that she did, on the business that we are in.”
Though some Trustees initially expressed the opinion that the school should simply be called “Lytton Springs Elementary,” which would later allow the local community to choose another name for the school, as the community developed, the Board eventually voted unanimously in favor of Alma Brewer Strawn Elementary.
Born and raised in the Lytton Springs Community, Mrs. Strawn attended the University of Texas to receive a degree in journalism, and later returned to teach two years at the Lytton Springs School before it closed, and then 39 years in the Lockhart Independent School District.
Often said to have said, “all children are special,” Mrs. Strawn was also active in her church as a pianist and Sunday School teacher, and remained a fixture in the Lytton Springs area until very nearly the end of her life.
Mrs. Strawn passed away on Aug. 24, 2012, just two months before her 100th birthday.
In related business, the Trustees heard a brief presentation from their architectural firm, Huckabee and Associates, regarding the interior finishes for what will now be Strawn Elementary. The interior fixtures, which the presentation indicated will be at the same time “fun” and “calming” will merge maroons, blues, creams and grays with light-wood and metallic fixtures and furnishings.
They also unanimously approved a budget that will include a half-year salary for a principal and secretary, who are expected to be brought on this winter.
The school is slated for opening in the fall of 2016.
In other business, after just over two hours in executive session, the Trustees voted to name a new principal to Clear Fork Elementary.
Susanne Scoggins, most recently the Assistant Principal at Austin ISD’s Barton Hills and Maplewood Elementaries, is a graduate of Texas State University – San Marcos. She has also acted as a Curriculum Writer and Reading Specialist during her time with AISD, and has served students as a teacher in both the Bastrop and Smithville Independent School Districts.
“Scoggins brings a vision of building relationships, continuous school improvement foundation development and continuous improvement with a strategic plan,” a written statement from LISD said on Tuesday. “She has the vision, enthusiasm, tenacity, intelligence, team building skills and extensive administrative experience to be an effective, collaborative principal for Clear Fork Elementary.”
In preparing for the coming fiscal year, the Board discussed the District’s Employee Compensation Plan and District funds.
Because of what the Trustees believe will be staffing changes brought about by the construction of the new elementary school and the renovation of Lockhart High School, they opted for a conservative pay increase, offering staff 1.5 percent (from the midpoint) for incremental pay raises in the coming year.
Interim Superintendent Tina Knudsen and acting CFO Michelle Wylie had originally brought forth a proposal for a 2 percent increase, but Neyman led her colleagues on the charge, citing the lower increase as “a nice balance of showing support and appreciation, and ‘longitudinal planning.’”
Despite what otherwise appeared a smooth and productive meeting, a fissure appeared amongst the Board as they neared their last courses of action, a proposal brought forth by Guyton to reorganize the Board’s officers.
His reason for proposing a change, Guyton said, was not a commentary on the leadership of seated President Carl Cisneros, but rather a matter of strengthening the Board. In his nominee of seated Vice President Brenda Spillmann for leadership of the Board, Guyton reminded his colleagues that Spillmann is experienced in the process of searching for a Superintendent, having been involved in two previous searches, and suggested that experience would be valuable moving forward.
“I think it’s the wrong time for us to reorganize the Board,” seated Secretary Jon Reyes said. “It’s important that we look as stable as possible, and I’m concerned that this will lead to some difficulties. It’s just the wrong time.”
Despite Reyes’ objections, which were joined by those of Cisneros and Trustee Michael Wright, the Board voted 4-3 to change the structure of the Board’s leadership, with Spillmann being named President, Steve Johnson being Vice President, and Guyton named Secretary.
“This may seem crazy with the outward appearance of the changing of officers,” Spillmann said after the vote. “I don’t think it has to do with personalities, it’s a level of experience that we’re trying to utilize… I’m going to work hard to having a level of respect and attitude toward one another, how we behave and treat each other is paramount. It’s not about us, it’s about the children of the District, and I think we all have that going for us.”
The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees routinely meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers on the third floor of the Dr. Eugene Clark Library Complex. However, during the month of July, several special meetings will be held to consider and interview potential candidates for the District’s superintendency.
Follow future editions of the Post-Register, or follow us online at www.post-register.com as the search develops.