By Kathi Bliss
A marathon meeting of the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees on Monday evening focused largely on the future of the District, and what can best be done to help Lockhart students to succeed.
Much of that discussion centers around the notion of a bond package that would help LISD fund extensive renovations and repairs to existing facilities, and includes the possibility of building a new elementary school.
The recommendation for the massive project came from the Facilities Review Task Force, a diverse group of citizens appointed by the Trustees who spent several weeks touring facilities, talking with principals and staff members, and meeting with consultants for the District to determine what each campus needs in terms of facilities, and how best to meet those needs.
As the recommendations came back to the Board, two key issues are the ever-growing elementary school population, and the ever-advancing age of the high school campus. To address those issues, the Task Force recommended the construction of a new elementary school, and a phased-in renovation of Lockhart High School.
Another idea that had been raised as a possibility was a “campus swap,” which would move Lockhart High School to the more modern Lockhart Junior High campus, and possibly retrofit that campus for a high school population.
Although the idea drew resistance because the junior high campus was specifically constructed for a junior high population, some Trustees, led by Jessica Neyman have been adamant about reviewing all the options, including the campus-swap issue.
Following a long discussion about the facilities, in which the Trustees heard not only information about the facilities Task Force, a presentation from the Texas Association of School Boards about how best to promote a bond issue, and lengthy discussions about entering Requests for Qualifications for designers for the project, the Trustees have agreed to move forward cautiously but quickly.
Neyman, in an effort to address her personal concerns and questions about the project, will meet with consultant Richard Gadbois, who has agreed to help her work through the details of the Task Force’s options and recommendations in order to get comfortable with the proposed project.
If the Trustees choose to hold a bond election to fund the facilities overhaul, it could be slated for a vote as early as next year.
In other business, the Trustees engaged in discussions about what each had learned during a recent TASB conference. Each Trustee, as well as Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra, expressed a desire to research ideas and programs they had learned about during their separate seminars, and expect to bring forth recommendations in the near future.
Neyman also brought forth an agenda item encouraging the Trustees to consider presenting a “united front” as Caldwell County enters negotiations with Green Group Holdings, LLC, which plans to develop a 1,260 acre multi-use facility including a landfill in northern Caldwell County.
Because the property is within the Lockhart Independent School District and Green Group has made offers for such concessions as scholarships and field trips, Neyman said she believed it would be in the best interest of the District for the Board to form a “wish list,” of sorts, of items to be included in the “host agreement” between the County and Green Group.
Although the Trustees expressed understanding of the position and a desire to see that the students and the District are considered, the consensus of the Trustees seemed to be that, while each board member should speak individually with their County Commissioners about the host agreement if they choose to, the issue should be left to the County, without an official position being taken by the board at this time.
In brief news:
The Trustees recognized the members of the staff that volunteered in the Keep Lockhart Beautiful Cleanup in September. They also read a proclamation from Gov. Rick Perry declaring October as “Principals’ Month.”
The Lockhart Evening Lions Club made a donation to the District following this fall’s annual school supply fundraising drive. The drive raised $640, the lowest amount they have ever collected, which the Lions attribute to the sluggish economy.
The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the LHS Conference Center at 906 Center St. in Lockhart. The meetings are open to the public and are webcast at www.lockhartisd.org.