LHISD will hire additional band director

By SHELLY WILKISON

Liberty Hill school trustees voted unanimously Dec. 17 to create a new teaching position for a band director at Liberty Hill Intermediate School.

With the growth in the band program, Superintendent Rob Hart said an additional director has been  needed for some time. However, concerns about funding last year put the issue on hold.

“This year, the high school band has grown to 120 or more. We ordered more uniforms and had to add an extra bus for band trips,” Hart said. “This is a quality program and we want it to continue to grow.”

The new position will be a beginning band director who will be primarily responsible for the sixth grade band at the Intermediate campus. However, all four directors will share duties at each campus.

With the Board’s authorization  Monday, the position will be advertised this spring, but the person selected will not begin work until next school year.

Also Monday, the Board heard a report on the 2011-2012 Academic Excellence Indicator System (AEIS) and adopted district and campus performance objectives.

Every year, school districts are required to report data showing student performance on standardized tests and how results compare to the state and region, information on teacher qualifications and experience, student discipline and student fitness. The report was presented in the form of a public hearing, but no one from the community addressed the Board.

The AEIS is posted on the school district’s website, www.libertyhill.txed.net.

Curriculum Director Claudeane Braun said that although performance standards from last spring’s administration of the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) for grades three through eight are not expected until January 2013, the AEIS includes results of the TAKS in grades 10 and 11.

“Our students performed above the state and regional averages on the TAKS in grades 10 and 11,” Mrs. Braun said.

Attendance rates in Liberty Hill for the past two academic years were about 1 percentage point above the state and Region 13. Liberty Hill’s dropout rate during the same time period was 0.5 percent compared to 2.4 percent at the state level and 2.1 percent in the region.

The report showed fewer local students completed advanced course/dual enrollment courses in 2011-2012 than the average for the state and region.

Results on SAT/ACT college entrance exams were slightly above the state, but below the regional average.

Mrs. Braun said a comparison showed class sizes in Liberty Hill at the high school level are above the state average, and teacher salaries are below the state average.

She explained that last school year, teachers preferred to forgo a pay increase so that the district would not have to layoff personnel. Not only did the decision result in increased class sizes, but also set local salaries back somewhat.

“There’s a lot to be said about our kids, our community and the family (of employees),” she said. “Teachers priority was that we not lose jobs as in other districts.”

She reported that results of physical fitness tests (FitnessGram) showed students at all grade levels of average fitness. However, the percentage of 12th grade students who were at higher risk was higher than the state norm.

“We have trouble getting our seniors to get out and run hard,” she said.

Another portion of the report showed that of 165 graduates in the Class of 2010 who were enrolled in Texas institutions of higher education in fiscal 2011, 40 were attending a four-year public university and 54 were attending two-year public colleges.

Of those attending a four-year institution, 12 earned a GPA of 2.5-2.99; 10 earned a GPA of 3.5 and above; 7 earned a GPA of 3.0-3.49; six earned a 2.0 or below and 4 earned a 2.0-2.49. The report also showed 58 of the graduates were not found, and nine were enrolled in independent colleges and universities where GPA information was not available. Four graduates were shown as not trackable.

The report also showed that in 2011-2012, 100 percent of Liberty Hill’s teaching staff were “highly qualified” or certified to teach in the subjects assigned.

Although Mrs. Braun omitted from her presentation to the Board information about violent and criminal incidents that had occurred in 2011-2012, the information was included in the packet provided to The Independent.

After the meeting, Mrs. Braun said she inadvertently skipped over the material that showed one student was “disciplined as a result of a police officer’s report to the school regarding an off-campus traffic stop during which a firearm was found in the student’s vehicle.”

The report also showed four incidents of possession of a controlled substance, in which five students were sent to Liberty Hill DAEP (Disciplinary Alternative Education Program).

In 2011-2012, there were four incidents of possession of alcoholic beverages. In those cases, one student was suspended from school, two were sent to DAEP and one was continuing another district’s DAEP.

The report showed four incidents of possession of cigarette or tobacco product. In those cases, students were sent to in-school suspension.

For exhibition or possession of a firearm, one incident was reported. As a result, there was one student disciplined out of school suspension and one to the County’s Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP).

Mrs. Braun said there was one incident of indencency with a child reported last school year. She said the accused, an LHHS student, was sent to JJAEP. The  victim was not a Liberty Hill student, she said.

The report showed 703 violations of the school district’s Code of Conduct. Of those, 22 received partial day in-school suspension, 589 in-school suspensions; four partial day out-of-school suspensions, 52 out-of-school suspensions, 46 Liberty Hill DAEP, two continue other DAEP, two court-ordered DAEP, two court-ordered JJAEP.

For assault other than an employee victim, one incident was reported that resulted in one in-school suspension, one out-of-school suspension and one DAEP.

Also Monday, the school district received a “clean” report from Atchley & Associates, LLP. for 2011-2012 financial audit.

“The financial statements were presented (by administration) fully,” said Dan Shaner, a representative of the auditing firm. “We’ve issued a clean opinion and that’s as good as it gets.”

The Board also voted to adopt the District and Campus Perormance Objectives, another annual requirement. Mrs. Braun said the objectives could be revised and brought back to the Board for consideration after the district receives results from the STAAR testing.

The Objectives indicate how educators at the campus and district levels plan to improve student performance.

The Board heard an update from school architects and contractors regarding the progress of construction at the new high school and other campuses where renovations are in progress.

Trustees saw photos of artificial turf being installed at the new football and softball stadiums, where bleachers are soon to follow. Officials say construction on all projects remains on schedule for the August 2013 opening of school.

After a 50-minute executive session, the Board accepted the resignation of Sally Shumaker.