LHISD Board recognizes students, adopts calendar

Liberty Hill school trustees on Monday adopted the 2013-2014 school calendar, were informed of pending legislation impacting public schools and recognized students who participated in this year’s UIL academic contests.

The Board met at Liberty Hill Junior High so that it might recognize students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades who participated this year in UIL academic contests.

For the eighth consecutive year, Liberty Hill Junior High students have taken first place at the District level in UIL academic contests.

Sixth grade students from Liberty Hill Intermediate School compete at the junior high level and contributed to this year’s high marks.

Teachers from both campuses shared results with trustees and recognized students who were in attendance at the meeting.

Participants in all UIL contests from elementary through junior high grades, including those who placed, have been reported in previous editions of The Independent.

Also Monday, the Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the school calendar for the 2013-2014 academic year.

Students begin school on August 27 and graduation is June 6, 2014.

Superintendent Rob Hart said that due to state law, which regulates the start of school, the number of instructional days, required testing dates and various holidays, school districts have little flexibility when it comes to creating a calendar.

While legislation is pending this session that would create more flexibility regarding the start of school, current law states that classes may not begin prior to the fourth Monday in August.

Hart said the late start pushes the end of school into the first 10 days of June, which conflicts with many college summer classes that typically begin the first few days of June.

Among numerous bills being monitored by Hart this session is House Bill 1669, which would allow districts to begin school sometime during the week of August 21.

Hart noted his opposition to legislation like Senate Bill 573, which attempts to allow private schools to compete in the UIL. He said private school recruiting practices make their presence in the organization unfair.

He also opposes Senate Bill 1380, which would require school districts to place video cameras in all self-contained special education classrooms. He said the requirement would be costly.

Other bills supported by LHISD include reducing the required number of end-of-course exams for high school students; and removal of the requirement that an end-of-course exam counts as 15 percent of a student’s final course grade.

Hart mentioned House Bill 2275, which would reduce the current student-teacher ratio of 22 to 1 to 17 to 1. He said the change would create significant staffing costs.

Also of concern ws Senate Bill 1458 relating to teacher retirement. He said the effect of the bill would be to keep teachers in the classroom until age 60 — the age at which they could retire with full benefits. Those who retired earlier would be penalized.

“This would keep some teachers in the classroom for as long as 40 years,” he said.

Following a 40-minute executive session, the Board accepted the resignations of Karly Steffens (high school science and Liberty Belles sponsor), Nancy Kerstens (elementary special education resource), Kay McCarthy (Intermediate School counselor) and Ellen Thomas (speech language pathologist).

The Board approved the employment of Jared Clarkson as an assistant Band Director.

The Board also unanimously approved Prosperity Bank as the school district’s depository for the next two years. Hart said bids from local banks were accepted and Prosperity Bank submitted the best rates.

During public comments, a parent from Bill Burden Elementary asked the Board to support the creation of an organization for parents of gifted and talented students.