LISD focuses on new elementary location
By LPR Staff
As planning reaches a fever pitch on the renovations and additions at Lockhart High School, the eyes of the LISD Board of Trustees have turned northward, in an attempt to determine the best location for the new elementary school approved in the $63.9 million bond package approved last spring.
g a presentation last month, it became clear to the District that the most rapid pattern of growth is taking part in the northeastern quadrant of the county, near Lytton Springs and Mustang Ridge. Therefore, according to project manager Robert Gadbois, that area is one of prime focus for acquiring property to build the new elementary.
Under the auspices of assisting the Trustees in choosing a location, Trustee Jessica Neyman invited a presentation from the grassroots group Environmental Protection in the Interest of Caldwell County (EPICC), which has been actively involved in researching and opposing the proposed landfill development near the intersection of FM1185 and SH 130.
Prior to the presentation, Trustees Brenda Spillmann and Jon Reyes expressed concern that allowing EPICC to present information to the Board would also open the door to allowing Green Group Holdings, the company proposing the landfill development, to speak to the Trustees at a later time. While they said they welcomed the discussion, they expressed concern and a lack of desire to take a stand on what they called the “political issue” of the landfill.
Neyman, herself a member of EPICC, said her intent with asking for the group’s assistance at the meeting was not to sway her colleagues for or against support for the development, but rather to prove “due diligence” in researching the areas where the new elementary school is being proposed.
“I really don’t believe that any one of us sitting here is even considering putting a school close to an industrial facility,” Spillmann countered. “Even with the group’s information, I think as an entity, we have those deep concerns about the future of our students. That’s a given. This makes me uncomfortable because we are in a ‘precarious’ place, because we have gained so much ground and have so much momentum, and if we allow even just a little bit, we’re going to be off in the grass, instead of looking out in the horizon. The next thing you know, we are bogged down in things that we don’t need to be looking at.”
Superintendent Rudy Trevino stated firmly that he is in the business of educating children, and that he has to “keep friends on both sides of the aisle.” He also challenged both entities to do more for the District, including helping with scholarships, campus gardens, recycling programs.
“Come back with different plans,” he said. “We are here to set policies in the best interest of our kids, and anyone that’s willing to do that is welcome.”
As the presentation began, Board President Rick Womble noted it was an “awkward” conversation for the Board to have, and cautioned the public against perceiving any manner of favoritism, based on the fact that EPICC was invited to make the presentation, and Green Group Holdings had not yet been invited.
EPICC representative Byron Freidrich came forward to speak, saying he was not only representing EPICC, but rather “the greater Lytton Springs area,” which will be impacted by the development of the landfill.
For nearly 20 minutes, he presented information regarding potential impacts of fire, groundwater contamination and air and solid pollution, before Womble asked if he had any specific information germane to the location of the elementary school.
Pressing the point, Neyman added, “the information you’ve given here… is it going to make any difference if we locate the school one mile away or four miles away?”
Freidrich did not answer her question with specifics.
In the end, he said, “We want you to place a school in our area, but really want you to say that you don’t want [the landfill] to be in our community.”
The Trustees later convened in executive session to discuss offers of donations and land purchases, but did not release any information to the public after those discussions.
In brief news:
The Commander of the Lockhart High School Air Force Jr. ROTC, Chelsea Villalobos, gave a presentation regarding the activities and mission of the ROTC for this year, and a review of last year’s activities.
The Trustees heard from District CFO Tina Knudsen regarding the District’s Schools FIRST financial accountability rating. For the 12th consecutive year, the District earned a “superior” rating.
Assistant Superintendent Larry Ramirez discussed the recent tabletop exercise performed with city and county Emergency Management staff, and the campus safety audits which have taken place over the last few weeks.
The Trustees discussed changing the format of board meetings, possibly to include a “work session” prior to each month’s business meeting. The effort, according to Womble, is to find a way to make the monthly meetings shorter.
They created four additional staffing positions at elementary school, and created a position for “Director of Technology. They also approved funding for several replacement computers, software licenses and STAAR-focused learning equipment for the elementary schools and Lockhart Junior High School.
The LISD Board of Trustees routinely meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Conference and Training Center at Lockhart High School. The meetings are also available for online viewing at www.lockhartisd.org.