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Search begins for LISD’s new leader

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

Another day, another headhunter.
Rather than try to run an internal search for a superintendent to replace Tom Bailey, the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees decided on Monday evening to contract with a headhunter to conduct the search and present viable candidates.
Working through the Texas Association of School Board

s Executive Superintendent Search (TASB/ESS), the LISD Board has begun the process of collecting candidates to lead LISD next year. The search is expected to take around four months, and will cost the district around $8,500.
“We have completed 500 searches in our history,” said TASB/ESS representative Bruce Felkner on Monday. “And around 80 percent of our superintendents are still on the job after three years.”
Felkner said the breadth of TASB/ESS”s search standards and interviewing requirements are partially responsible for the high success rate.
With their search, TASB/ESS will provide members of the board with applications, resumes and letters of interest from all candidates, rather than preselecting and bringing the board already-narrowed options. Additionally, they recommend interviewing not only the candidates, but their spouses.
“We had one candidate in the search who looked like a good match,” he said. “But when his wife was touring the community with the board”s spouses, she said “I just can”t live here.” And if the spouse isn”t happy, ultimately the candidate won”t be happy.”
Felkner said the posting for the position could go out at once, and candidate interviews could begin as early as mid-summer. However, all board members will be required to sign confidentiality agreements, ensuring the anonymity of the candidates until finalists are chosen.
“We require that because some candidates are in positions that might be compromised if it becomes public they are looking for another position,” he said.
The board agreed to begin the search, but committed to have the public, and in particular the 11 non-incumbent candidates for the May school board election, involved in the process as much as legally possible.
In the meantime, LISD has also posted a position and will accept applications for an “interim superintendent” position, as Bailey has requested to separate with the district around April 30.
In other business, the board discussed the possibility of moving from a seven-period to an eight-period day during the next school year.
“State regulations have added two more required credits for student graduation,” LHS Principal Larry Ramirez said. “That brings them up to a total of 26 required credits, and a seven-period day allows for a total of 28 credits. With our goal of having students involved in extracurricular activities and offering electives, a seven-period day isn”t going to work.”
Parent and LJHS math teacher Joan Anchondo publicly voiced her disagreement with Ramirez”s assessment.
“There are classes that, although they are electives, fulfill requirements,” she said. “Band, for instance fills not only a PE, but also the Fine Art credit. And some kids from the junior high come to high school with four credits already in place. So for some students, they aren”t losing as much.”
Anchondo expressed concern that one of her children already studies until late at night, and might have to study even longer if she has another class to worry about.
A concern raised by the board is that adding an additional class period will cut into instructional time.
The board opted not to make a decision at Monday”s meeting, but asked Ramirez to gather more information on scheduling and class times for a decision at a later date. While immediate action was not necessary, Ramirez and Freshman Campus Principal John Henk said they would like to have a decision in time to send the students home for the summer knowing whether the class day would be seven or eight periods next year.
In other LISD business:
Bailey announced there has been discussion amongst staff and administrators of the district”s elementary schools regarding realignment of the elementary campuses.
“This isn”t something that needs to be voted on, or even something that”s going to happen quickly,” Bailey said. “This is just an issue and an idea that has been discussed for several years, as far as what might be best for the students, the families and all involved.”
The realignment, should it happen, would involve structuring the district”s elementary campuses to serve students from pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Bailey said the idea has been the subject of ongoing discussion, and asked the board”s blessing in moving forward with those discussions.
“The intent of putting this item on the agenda was simply to let the board know this is being discussed,” he said. “I would prefer to let [you know now] rather than having it come up… over the fence at a baseball game.”
The board said they had no concerns about the ongoing discussions, and in fact appreciated not only Bailey”s consideration in bringing the discussion forward, but also the staff and administrators in being proactive about the alignment, as the district stands poised for growth.
The board considered changes to district policy regarding registered sex offenders on campuses.
Working with the district”s law firm, Henson Schwartz, and the Luling and Prairie Lea Independent School Districts, Bailey brought forward a proposal that, while allowing such offenders on campuses in limited, specific circumstances, keeps those individuals supervised by district staff at all times.
“We wanted to work with Luling and Prairie Lea so that the policy would be uniform throughout the county,” Bailey said. “And we worked with TASB for the basics of the policy.”
By and large, the six-page policy prohibits any “adult who has ever plead guilty, has ever pled no lo contendre, has ever been found guilty of a “reportable conviction or adjudication,” or is required to register with the sex offender registry” from being present on school property. Any such individual found on school property will be immediately asked to leave, and law enforcement could be called.
However, if a school is to be used for voting, an offender may be on district property for that business only. Additionally, parents who may be registered sex offenders may be on campus, but only to discuss specific educational issues with his or her children”s teachers or administrators, or to participate in school-related activities. However, those parents will be supervised at all times.
In the event an outside contractor employs a registered sex offender, those contractors will be instructed not to send offenders to campus. However, if one must be present, that individual will be supervised by district staff.
Lockhart High School students will have new options for Career and Technology Education (CATE) programs next year. After hearing a request from Annette Gregory with the Austin Community College CATE program, the board approved the addition of three courses in two programs. Based on student preregistration interest, more than 120 students are interested in participating in a medical forensics program, while another 50 or more have showed interest in a veterinary technology program. As a result of the interest, the board approved budget requests for the 2008-2009 fiscal year for the addition of an “Introduction to Vet Tech” class at the LHS Freshman Campus, and “Vet Medical Assistant I” and “Medical Forensics” classes at LHS.
In brief news:
Administrators from Clearfork and Navarro Elementary Schools and Carver Kindergarten recognized dozens of volunteers, including parents, grandparents, community businesses and students from Lockhart Pride High School who have donated hundreds of hours to the teachers and students of their respective campuses.
Head volleyball coach Melinda Kirst recognized LHS senior and Lady Lion Team Captain Kelly Witte, who was honored this year as a member of the Texas Sports Writers” All-State Volleyball Team. Recommendations from Kirst and Lockhart Post-Register sports editor Alonzo Garza were instrumental in earning Witte the attention of the selection panel, but she earned the honor of her own right, being a four-year starter, four-year all-district performer and a team captain. Apart from her notable statistics on the court, Witte is, according to Kirst, “… a tremendous young lady, who represents Lockhart the way we all want Lockhart to be represented.”
The board approved an out-of-state trip for the Lockhart High School “distance runners” who will travel to the Kansas Relays on April 17, 2008. According to Head Track Coach Scott Hippensteel, not only will the distance runners participate, but a pole-vaulter, a discus thrower and other “track and field standouts” will also attend the event.
CATE Health Sciences program director Tracy Hellerud recognized two students who earned positions in the a state competition this year. The pair, Sabrina O”Neal and Amanda Holsenback, placed first in educational competition events in Pharmacy Knowledge and Administrative Medical Assisting respectively. The duo competed against heath sciences students from across the region, including those from programs in Austin, San Antonio, New Braunfels and Bastrop.
On offer extended by a property owner last month regarding the donation of two tracts of land was rescinded, Bailey announced to the board.
The LISD Board of Trustees meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Lockhart High School Conference Center (old library) at #1 Lion Country Drive in Lockhart. Meetings are open to the public, and the public is encouraged to attend.

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