By Kathi Bliss
For the last year, administrators and teachers from each of Lockhart ISD’s four elementary campuses and Carver Kindergarten have been working to develop a program of bilingual teaching for Lockhart students. The committee, called the Bilingual Cadre, met with the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees on Tuesday evening to discuss upgrading the district’s policies toward instruction of the bilingual student.
Mary Lou Walther, assistant principal of Clearfork Elementary and Deanna Juarez, assistant principal from Navarro Elementary, led the discussion.
According to Juarez, the Cadre decided to recommend implementation of a policy offering dual language programs beginning at pre-kindergarten.
The committee recommended a one-way, dual language program model.
It is the mission of LISD to provide a program and curriculum for English Language Learners (ELLs) that produces biliterate students who leave fifth grade as fluent listeners, speakers and writers in both the English and Spanish languages.
Under the suggested program, ELL students will receive instruction in their primary language, Spanish, throughout the elementary grades. Rather than being grouped with non-Spanish speakers in class, the students would be put in classes with only other bilingual students, allowing teachers to allocate time for instruction in both English and Spanish.
As students move forward through the district, the percentage of English-language instruction will increase, culminating in a 50-50 teaching structure by the fifth grade.
According to Walther, research reflects that “one-way dual language” programs, such as the one suggested by the Cadre, yields the lowest number of dropouts.
“We chose the one-way dual language program … because it meets the needs of our bilingual students.”
Walther suggested a lack of continuity in services provided to bilingual students within LISD is largely responsible lacks in success among that population. As the community has grown and changed demographically, and as the elementary campuses have realigned, each campus has begun offering different services. The Cadre hopes to change that practice and offer alignment across the campuses.
The women agreed that community support was critical to the success of the program, beginning with the parents of the bilingual students. Walther said many parents, upon learning about bilingual teaching and the programs available, become excited about the prospects such instruction offers their children.
A request by the Hays Consolidated ISD prompted discussion among the Trustees regarding the district’s compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
According to the district’s purchasing agent Tanya Homann, Hays contacted the district at the beginning of the school year to notify LISD that one of Hays’ softball coaches is disabled, and to confirm the Lady Lion Softball Field’s ADA compliance status. Because the complex is not ADA compliant, Homann said, she and Maintenance Director Bill Coleman have discussed several options to upgrade the fields.
Interim Superintendent Jack Cockrill supported Homann’s suggestion that the district’s Athletic Directors work with Hays to determine an alternate, neutral location for the game in question, which is scheduled in early-March, and to examine the fields, and other district facilities to ensure their compliance.
“This was not presented before the budget was passed,” he said. “There’s nothing for it in the budget at this time. You might want to go ahead and examine all the facilities to see what needs to be done.”
Several LISD sporting facilities might be out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Lockhart High School graduate James “Jimmy” Canning recently approached Central Office with a request to open a scholarship fund entitled the “Canning Engineering Excellence Scholarship.” With an initial investment of $20,000, and an additional $5,000 over the next five years, Canning, who graduated LHS in 1975, hopes to develop a revolving scholarship fund that will help LHS graduates pursue education in engineering.
The scholarship will be administered by LISD, with scholarships granted after 2012 expected to be funded through interest earnings from the initial investment.
“Jimmy Canning was the sort of student that we want to create in this district,” said Trustee Clint Mohle. “He excelled in academics, he was in organizations, and he was just an outstanding, stand-up individual.”
The board unanimously agreed to accept the donation and administer the Canning Engineering Excellence Award.
In brief news:
The board engaged in a lengthy discussion regarding legislative changes to their local and legal policies. These changes were suggested either by the Texas Legislature or the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB). Although the board approved the policy changes, they did ask that administration review the changes and make recommendations regarding the suggested changes to “local” policy.
They entered an executive session to discuss a variety of personnel issues, including the resignation of the Cub House director and the withdrawal of the resignation tendered by a social studies teacher at the Lockhart High School Pride Campus.
The LISD Board of Trustees traditionally meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Conference Center (old library) at Lockhart High School. Meeting schedules vary during the holidays, but meetings are open to the public and citizens are encouraged to attend.