Seniors make huge strides in TAKS testing
By LPR Staff
For the first time in recent history, fewer than half a dozen LHS seniors will have to watch from the sidelines as their classmates graduate next Friday night. According to figures released by LISD this week, only three members of the class have not met their testing requirements for graduation.
Over the last several ye
ars, the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees has fallen under fire during the final weeks of the school year because board policy precludes students from participating in commencement ceremonies if they have not passed all four aspects of their Exit Level Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) tests. This year, however, thanks in large part to the introduction of new comprehensive programs at Lockhart High School, the vast majority of the students have passed their tests and will be able to graduate.
In fact, LISD Superintendent Dr. Jose Parra reported on Monday, only three students have not met their testing requirements.
The numbers, Parra said, reduced significantly from the beginning of the school year, when 25 students still needed to pass their tests. Throughout the year, that number was whittled away, and only nine of those students had to take re-tests in April. Of those, six passed and will graduate next week with their class.
“From here, we are going to do individual assessments and determine what we can do to help those three,” Parra said. “… no one student needs to pass more than two sections of the test. And we will be able to do item, objective and individual analyses to see where those students need help.”
Parra’s announcement elicited a standing ovation from not only the board, but from the other administrators in the room, who have watched over the past several years while LHS seniors have struggled with TAKS testing.
Last year at this time, nearly 20 students had yet to pass their exit level testing. With the help of summer tutoring programs and school-year mentoring programs, several of those students have retested and passed, finally earning their diplomas.
In other business
The trustees heard an extensive presentation on the district’s present and future budget, in preparation for budget talks which will kick into high gear next month.
According to the district’s Chief Financial Officer Tina Knudsen, the district’s average daily attendance has risen to levels higher than originally projected. That increase, she noted, could translate into nearly $490,000 of additional funding received from the State of Texas.
However, with that news, Knudsen also offered a reminder that employee health benefits came at a higher cost this year than expected, and that increase took a bite out of the budget that was not initially planned for.
Still, she said, the district is in sound financial shape, with a fund balance that covers just over three months of operating capital, and both enrollment figures and a tax base that are increasing, and expected to continue to grow.
“Essentially, when our taxable value increases, we are able to decrease our ‘interest and sinking’ tax rate [used to pay for bond issues and outstanding debt,” she said. The district currently has an interest and sinking rate of $0.19, considerably lower than some of the districts in the area that service debts. The “maintenance and operations” rate, mandated by the State of Texas, is $1.04, and is not expected to change, failing additional action on school finance from the State Legislature.
Several trustees expressed concerns that the budget figures have swayed from presentations earlier this year. To become more informed on the budget process, they said, they hoped to have additional budget workshops prior to the public hearings and passing of the budget next month.
The next budget meeting is scheduled for June 7, 2010.
In brief news:
The Board recognized members of the LHS Choir, who have performed and competed successfully throughout the state this spring.
The trustees also heard a detailed presentation from Head Band Director Scott Taube and his staff regarding the state of the Roaring Lion Band program.
Taube said the program is growing, and he has worked not only with his assistant directors but is also beginning to work with music teachers at the elementary levels to offer additional musical education and training throughout the district.
They honored junior Gabby Galvan, who competed in last week’s State Track and Field Meet. Galvan is a two-time state competitor, a three-time regional competitor and was recognized by LISD Athletic Director Melinda Kirst for, “not only… representing us well on the field, but she is a tremendous young lady in the classroom.”
The LISD Board of Trustees routinely meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Conference Center at Lockhart High School. The meetings are currently available through webcast on the district’s website, www.lockhartisd.org, and will soon also be rebroadcast via the City of Lockhart’s local cable channel, Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.