By SHELLY WILKISON
School trustees unanimously approved the addition of five new teaching positions this fall — positions administrators say are needed as a result of growth in enrollment and new course offerings at the high school.
At an estimated cost of $250,000, the school district will add four positions in the high school core subjects of science, math, social studies and English and three of those teachers will also have coaching duties. The fifth position created Monday is a teacher for Health Sciences.
Superintendent Rob Hart said some high school core classes have as many as 30 students and no classroom space has been available to add more sections and teachers. Space restrictions will no longer be an issue when the new high school campus opens this summer.
“It’s time to do this,” he said, adding that the incoming freshman class will significantly outnumber the upper classes — an enrollment trend he said is projected to continue.
Liberty Hill ISD, which does not charge fees for out-of-district transfers, receives its funding for those students from the state through the formula for Average Daily Attendance. As the district’s enrollment increases, so does its state funding. However, those funds are not realized until later budget cycles.
“It will be tight for us. We know they (new students) bring funding, but it’s on the back side. So, we’re taking a leap of faith,” Hart said.
The new high school, which is located just west of Liberty Hill on State Highway 29, will open with an enrollment of 950 students, Hart said. In planning for projected growth in the area, the facility was designed to accommodate 1,600.
Hart said while additional sections of the core classes were essential, it was also time for the district to begin a soccer program and expand its tennis program. Beginning this fall, class periods for men’s and women’s soccer, and tennis will be added to the high school schedule.
“Soccer is big here,” Hart said. “They are playing on select teams and at the City Park every week.”
Hart added that part of the 2010 bond proposal marketed to voters included a soccer field at the new high school campus.
Additionally, as the UIL adds the new Class 6A and districts are realigned for 2014, Liberty Hill could find itself in Class 4A where soccer is included in the varsity sports lineup.
Hart said by fielding teams this fall, the high school will be ready to compete in district play in fall 2014.
The Board approved the reassignment of Junior High teacher/coach Kelsey Quinn to coach women’s soccer and teach social studies at the high school. The Board also hired Adam Stagman as men’s soccer coach and math teacher.
In addition to soccer and tennis, the district is adding a Health Sciences strand to Career Technical Education (CTE). Curriculum Director Claudeane Braun told school trustees that the health care profession is a growing career field and the school district can train high school students to do some of those jobs by the time they graduate.
Mrs. Braun said students indicated in surveys their interest in the new curriculum, which will be a four-year tract at the high school level. She said state funds are available to support the addition of a teacher in an approved CTE.
“Students will be able to graduate and go on for more training or can work as a nurse’s aid or a pharmacy tech,” she said.
The district is communicating with Austin Community College and Texas State University’s Round Rock campus to facilitate extended education and training for students who wish to pursue it.
Following a one-hour executive session, the Board approved the employment of Lida McCloskey to teach the Health Sciences classes.
High school students will have another new class choice next fall — Theatre and Media Communications. Mrs. Braun said the class will be taught by a current high school teacher. Students will learn to use technology and digital tools to tell stories.
“Students may be interested in Theatre Arts, but not sure about being in a play. This class will let them engage through technology. They will produce storyboards and do animation,” she said.
Also Monday, the Board voted unanimously to waive the student transfer fee for the coming school year.
Hart said enforcing a transfer fee would push the school district up into a higher wealth level that would require the district to pay “recapture fees. It’s beneficial to us to keep our own money rather than pay in.”
He said students seeking to transfer into LHISD submit their academic records and go through an interview with the campus principal, who in turn makes the recommendation whether the student should be accepted. The process is repeated each year.
“If the student has been a disciplinary problem or had attendance issues, we don’t renew them,” Hart said.
The Board adopted the appropriate deeds and a resolution approving the exchange of real property with Williamson County along CR 277 adjacent to the new high school campus.
Hart said the transaction is the result of the school district’s desire to make the road safer for student drivers entering the back side of the campus. The district will improve a sharp curve in the road as it enters the campus. However, improvements to the county road from the intersection with SH 29 to the curve will not be completed before school opens.
Hart said he was told the County did not have the funds to make those improvements until a later date. That construction could be included in a county road bond package next year.
Also Monday, the Board canvassed election returns from the May 11 trustee election. Incumbent Trustee Shawn Roberts and newly-elected Shawn Vickers were administered the Oath of Office.
Mrs. Roberts was re-elected to Place 6 with 76 percent of the vote over challenger Jim Dillon.
Vickers ran unopposed in the Place 7 seat held by Anthony Stephens. Stephens, who chose not to seek re-election, received a plaque for his service and a standing ovation from those in attendance Monday as he left the dais ending 12 years of service to LHISD.
The Board also approved the summer school schedule for Limited English Proficient students to include 120 hours of instruction over 15 days ending July 3.
In other personnel matters Monday, the Board approved the employment of Katy Leiskau for high school science teacher, Reagan Lochte as fifth grade teacher, Emily Pirtle as high school credit recovery teacher, Lori Truslow as Intermediate PE teacher, and Cheryl Russell as third grade teacher.
Resignations were accepted from Vicki Bates, Intermediate PE; James Herrera, high school Spanish/coach; Emily Thompson, kindergarten; Monica Lanning, speech pathologist.