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LISD wins $386k development grant from SH-130

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

A new partnership with Cintra Construction, through the SH-130 Concession Company, could mean big gains for Lockhart High School students next year.

LISD Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra announced during the Monday evening meeting of the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees that the District has won a grant from the construct

ion magnates to improve and expand the high school’s advanced placement programs through a five-year cooperative effort in training, mentoring and investment.

The grant, which offers investments up to $101,000 per year, will allow the district to participate in the Advanced Placement Training and Incentives Program, which helps teachers and students to build more productive and comprehensive advanced placement programs. The District’s maximum annual investment, for the first five years of the program, will be $45,000.

Participation in the program, which has been on the table for discussion since March, will offer LHS students a greater opportunity for college preparation, with additional training and possibly funding available for advanced placement coursework.

Cintra piloted the cooperative program in 1992, and has worked with several districts over the years, most recently helping the Pflugerville ISD to realize an exponential growth in the success and accessibility of their advanced placement programs.

The program will be officially announced and explained during a presentation and ceremony at Lockhart High School at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24.

In other news, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Janie Wright announced that there are only seven seniors in the Class of 2011 that will be unable to walk the stage with their classmates at the end of the month because of failure to master all four elements of their Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests. When the school year began, she said, 54 students were in danger of not graduating because of TAKS requirements. Over the school year, LHS administration and tutors have focused attention on those students, helping them to improve their performance considerably.

The number of students unable to graduate because they have not passed the TAKS Exit-Level test has decreased considerably over the past several years, Wright said, and the staff of Lockhart High continues to adapt their programs and services to help those students to graduate. Even after the school year ends, she said, the students are still tutored and mentored, resulting in nearly 10 students earning late diplomas in the last two years.

In preparation for talks about the next two years, the Trustees looked at some hard decisions about the District’s budget, and agreed to work in several program cuts suggested by District CFO Tina Knudsen.

The cuts, Knudsen explained to the board, are the first step in mitigating what has become statewide fear over the Legislature’s impending cuts to school finance. However, she noted, the final determination on which cuts should be made, and how deep those cuts should go, are impossible to pin down until the passage of a State budget. She noted it is likely the Legislature will have to convene in a Special Session this summer, and it may still be weeks before the District will know how budget cuts will impact local funding.

In preparation for the worst-case scenario, the Board reluctantly, but unanimously, voted to cut the tuition reimbursement program for teachers, to reorganize the catastrophic leave, discretionary leave and teacher attendance bonus program, and to make staffing cuts in the Communities in Schools program. They also voted to reduce the hourly pay for tutors and substitute teachers and to cut the hours for the Kids Club afterschool program site managers.

In a related item, the Trustees voted to move forward with a Request for Proposals in an effort to find a partner to sell advertising on the district’s school buses.

Some trustees expressed concerns about the types of advertising which might be allowed, much of which is dictated by State and Federal law. Additionally, some said they were uncomfortable with allowing STS Transportation Services to have their name on the buses, which are owned by LISD, if they intended to sell advertising to other organizations.

The board voted 5-2 to move forward with the RFP, noting they were not committing to selling advertising on the buses, simply asking for proposals to gain more information and see if it is something they really want to do.

Trustees Timoteo “Tim” Juarez, Jr., and Juan Alvarez opposed the measure.

In brief news:

As they move forward with the process of redrawing the lines for the four single-member election districts, the Trustees passed a resolution forming a Redistricting Advisory Committee (RAC), who will meet with LISD attorneys to review and sketch potential redistricting plans. The committee will be formed of seven members of the public, each selected by the trustee from their current electoral district, and one district administrator. The group will report their findings and suggestions back to the Trustees, who will have the final say in the redistricting map attorneys submit to the Department of Justice for approval.

Under a mandate from Federal guidelines, the District was forced to raise the price for school lunches in the next school year. The prices will be raised at the elementary level to $1.70, and to $1.95 in the secondary schools, beginning in the 2011-2012 school year.

The parent of an LHS senior approached the Trustees in what he called an effort to make them aware of a “bullying problem” within the Lady Lion athletic program. He said his daughter, a four-year softball player, had opted to quit the team prior to the final game of the season, because she wanted to “avoid trouble” with other girls on the team. Rumors about such activities have been rife in the community for weeks. However, any disciplinary action taken by LHS is protected by law as confidential, and cannot be shared by administration with other parents or the public at large.

They recognized LHS senior Gabby Galvan for her fifth-place finish in the discus in the State Track and Field Meet last week. They also honored junior Nate Moore, who competed at the State level in the 1,600-meter run.

The Board recognized District CFO Tina Knudsen for receiving the Excellence in Academic Reporting finance award.

Several members of the Roaring Lion Band qualified at the State Level in the UIL Solo and Ensemble contest. The qualifying members were: Amanda Bryant, Audrey Parra, Sean Michael Monahan, Victoria Minor, Christine Spinks, Megan Adams, Megan Jimenez, Cassandra Huffel and Abigail Ramirez.

kathibliss@post-reigster.com

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