Trustees balk at staggered schedule
By LPR Staff
In their first meeting in their new quarters at the Dr. Eugene Clark Library Complex, the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees heard a review of several pieces of routine business, in preparation for their upcoming regular business meeting on May 18.
Considerable time was spent, during the workshop, disc
ussing a recent proposal to enter into a staggered bell schedule, which as proposed would have the secondary schools releasing as late as 4:45 p.m.
The proposal, brought forth by Assistant Superintendent Larry Ramirez is something cabinet-level administrators have given “considerable thought to.” However, the proposal has only been discussed with the public in the most cursory terms, with explanations being offered only at two public meetings earlier this month. Little other public input was offered to the District on the matter, before it was brought forth on Monday.
According to Ramirez, a transportation audit performed earlier this year revealed that a staggered bus schedule could likely increase efficiency, in addition to offering students a shorter time on the bus without putting them home any later in the evening.
However, several Trustees bristled at the notion, noting later start and release times could increase truancy, and give students idle morning time to make mischief.
Additionally, the later release time at the end of the day could have a negative impact on extracurricular activities, Trustee Tom Guyton warned.
“One of our goals is to have 100 percent participation,” he said. “If you’re looking at kids that get out of school at 4:45 p.m., and then have three hours of practice, now they aren’t getting home until 8 p.m., and then they still have to eat and do homework. I worry that we’re going to have parents that say, ‘forget that, it’s just too much.’”
Trustee Steve Johnson said he would also like to see a breakdown of the true economics of the matter. He expressed concern that, despite shortened routes, the proposal would have buses making two trips per day, instead of one.
As the Board continues the search for a new superintendent, it is likely the proposal will come forward again. However, though they took no action, the Trustees seemed to reach a consensus that this proposal should be something for the new superintendent to decide, and something parents should have more than three months warning before enacting. If the staggered schedule happens, it is likely the Board will not approve the change for the 2015-16 school year.
In other business, the Trustees heard an update on bond expenditures and projects from the project management team, including representatives from Owners Building Resource, the consulting firm that in the driver’s seat on the project.
According to Jo Zunker with OBR, phasing in of the construction project at Lockhart High School has begun, with offices and classrooms set to move in advance of upcoming demolition.
Over the summer, construction on the project will begin in earnest, including the phases of the project facing Center Street, as well as the Career and Technology wing behind the existing cafetorium.
The project is stalled awaiting the City of Lockhart Planning and Zoning commission to approve a specific use permit on the project.
Concerns raised by the City include the possibility of paving and striping the gravel student parking lot on Lion Country Drive, a project that could add significant cost to the project. Other concerns about granting the permit include traffic studies in the area, and the potential location of construction trailers.
The Planning and Zoning Commission initially heard the request for specific use permit last month, but tabled the measure pending receipt of additional information.
Zunker reported the next meeting with Planning and Zoning was slated on Wednesday, May 13.
During their regular meeting on Monday, the Board is set to consider a number of contracts relating to the upgrades and construction at the elementary schools, as well as a possible change in the Board Meeting calendar.
The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees routinely meets on the third and fourth Monday of each month. Because the meetings have now been moved to the third floor of the Masonic Annex at the Dr. Eugene Clark Library Complex, they are now broadcast not only online at www.lockhartisd.org, but also televised on Time Warner Cable Channel 10.