LHISD passing rates stable on STAAR

A report presented to school trustees Monday showed passing rates of Liberty Hill students on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) this spring remained stable with previous years.

While passing rates in math, reading and writing fluctuated by one to two points from previous years, overall the scores remained competitive with those statewide, in Region 13 and in higher achieving neighboring school districts.

The preliminary scoring report showed the passing rates for Liberty Hill third graders on reading at 88 and math at 87. Fourth grade passing rates were 82 on reading, 77 on math, and 84 on writing.

Fifth graders performed at 84 percent on reading, 82 percent on math and 75 percent on science.

Sixth graders, who only took reading and math tests, had passing rates of 90 on reading and 87 on math.

Seventh grade students had a passing rate of 89 on reading, 95 on math and 87 on writing.

In eighth grade, the passing rate was 96 on reading and math, while science was 87 and social studies was 76.

At the high school level, English I passing rate was 91 and English II was 86. The passing rate for Algebra I was 94, Biology was 98 and US History was 97.

Under state law, students in grades 5 and 8 must pass the STAAR reading and math tests to be promoted to the next grade. Those who did not pass  have subsequent opportunities to retake the tests.

In other business Monday, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) of $1.746 million for the renovations at the former Liberty Hill Intermediate School, which will become the new home to central administration in 2015.

Construction is scheduled to begin in July and will be complete in December.

The building that currently houses central administrative offices for the school district will be sold.

Superintendent Rob Hart said administrators are talking with several potential buyers.

“I feel good about securing a deal soon with a buyer. We knew going in (to the project) that we would need the money from the sale of this building,” he said, adding that construction costs are increasing weekly.

Hart said the original plan was to phase in renovations to the new administration building, but as costs continue to rise, that plan could end up costing the district more money. By taking a closer look at some items like air conditioning units and delaying replacement of some equipment, the GMP was reduced by about 12 percent, Hart said.

“It (the GMP) is about as low as we can get it now,” he said.

Also Monday, the Board approved the creation of three new elementary teaching positions and an Instructional Technology position.

Hart said the additional positions are justified by increases in enrollment.

The state requires a student-teacher ratio of 22-1 in grades kindergarten through four. Hart said the district likes to keep class sizes from 18-21 students at those grade levels.

“It may seem early to do it, but we have more than 200 in every grade level, and there is a good chance that we will be back next month asking for more positions,” he said.

Hart said Round Rock ISD is hiring 1,600 people this summer as a result of growth in that school district. With the competition, delaying the hiring process in Liberty Hill will make it more difficult to find quality applicants.

The Board also approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Program (JJAEP) for the upcoming school year.

LHISD expels stodents for disciplinary infractions to JJAEP, which is a cooperative program with all school districts in Williamson County. It is run by Georgetown ISD. The program is funded on the number of slots that the district has used the previous school year.

Following a 55-minute executive session, the Board approved a one-year extension to the Superintendent’s current employment contract.

The Board also approved the employment of Jennifer Hensley as a high school art teacher, Jasmine Coreathers as an American Sign Language teacher at the high school, Galen Munger as high school social studies teacher, Monica Pollet as a technology/business teacher and coach at the junior high,  Eric Murphy as special education behavior teacher at the Intermediate school, James Vernon as an LSSP intern, and Terry Mayer as special education behavior PPCD at elementary.

The Board accepted the resignations of the following: Tracy Edmiston, kindergarten; Heath Hohman, high school science teacher and coach; Julie Mumm, junior high nurse; Carolyn Smith, business/technology/yearbook teacher; Victoria Moon, resource teacher at Bill Burden Elementary; and Deanne Vance, high school librarian.

Board President Clay Cole was not present Monday.