‘The Team’ prepares to welcome the Panthers back to school

More than 300 employees of the Liberty Hill Independent School District attended Tuesday’s opening meeting for the 2012-2013 academic year. Held in the Liberty Hill High School gym, the annual meeting serves as a motivational event for teachers and staff on their first day back from summer vacation. (Photo by Kathy Canady)

Anticipating the arrival of a projected 2,800 students  in Liberty Hill next week, the school district’s employees returned to work Tuesday for professional development and to prepare their classrooms for a new school year.

After an early-morning breakfast at Liberty Hill High School, the staff was greeted by Superintendent Rob Hart and campus administrators. Hart’s announcement that the Board of Trustees had adopted a budget the night before that includes a pay raise for all employees was met with hearty applause, as was news that every campus in the district had met the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) of No Child Left Behind. Liberty Hill ISD was one of only two districts in Central Texas to earn passing status.

“The Board recognized what you sacrificed last year (salary freeze), and this year, we’re picking up (on the salary scale) where we left off,” Hart said.

During the opening convocation in 2011, Hart told the employees the good news at that time that the district was not laying off personnel. All across Texas, school districts were having to close schools and lay off teachers due to cuts in state funding. At that time, Hart’s announcement that there would be no raise, but teachers were not losing their jobs was positive news.

New employees to LHISD this fall are front row from left, Tina Wheeler, Dan Dunan, Samantha Fisher and Sharron Wilson. Center row from left are Chase McCoy, Christina Tucker, Susan Davidson, Catherine Floyd, Nicole McConnell, Rachael James, Becky Williams, Micky Rogers, Brittany Thomas, Alicia Sprinkle and Laura Faull. Back row from left are Thomas Foster, David Mechell, Jordan Ball, Travis Filipp, Fritz Klabunde, Shawn Joseph, Eric Clawson, Willard Fulton, GiGi Whitehead and Caleb Slack. (Photo by Shelly Wilkison)

Continued growth in enrollment is the reason the news was positive again this week, although Hart added that he was uncertain how an additional 230 or more new students next week would look. In the middle of a major building program, he said 2012-2013 would be the “pardon our mess kind of year.” He asked the staff for patience and warned that they would be inconvenienced as construction continues throughout the year at the high school and the Junior High.

Hart reminded employees of the successes of the previous school year in academics and athletics, and challenged the group to continue on the path of excellence.

Principals introduced new employees on their respective campuses and also shared motivational messages for the start of a new school year.

But, the highlight of the morning came when campus administrators dressed as rock and country-western stars were interviewed by a pretend newscaster played by Intermediate School Principal Kathy Major. Singing their answers to the tunes of ZZ Top, Elvis, The Beatles, Sting, Patsy Cline and Justin Beaber, the skit had the audience roaring with laughter.

School begins in Liberty Hill on Tuesday, August 28.