Committee studying LHISD facility needs

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By SHELLY WILKISON

A 16-member committee is meeting this spring to study the facility needs of Liberty Hill ISD in anticipation of a bond election in November.

Superintendent Rob Hart told school trustees at their regular meeting Monday that the committee of community members has met twice, and will continue meeting regularly until it brings its findings back to the Board in July.

Hart told The Independent following the meeting that while the committee may determine there are additional needs that should be addressed, the primary subject of a bond election will be the construction of a new elementary school at Santa Rita Ranch.

Hart has been projecting the need for a fourth elementary school since the newest one — Rancho Sienna Elementary School — opened in fall 2017.

Based on demographic projections supplied by the school district’s demographer — Dallas-based School District Strategies — the growth in the school district is on the east side along US Highway 183 with the largest fast-growing neighborhoods of Rancho Sienna, Santa Rita Ranch North and South, and MorningStar.

Members of the Committee on School Facilities were appointed by Hart based on recommendations by school trustees. Committee members include Mike Bowles, Blake Boren, Allison Boyd, Kendall Carter, Lance Dean, Christina Espinoza, Scott Ferrell, Christina Gamez, Cindy Gatlin, Mike Itz, Doug Neill, Traci Oehler, James Prince, Glen Reid, Kenneth Rodal and Brittany Turner. Hart said the group includes an employee from each campus.

In personnel matters Monday, the Board approved the creation of two additional special education positions that will support teachers districtwide.

Director of Student Support Services Elyse Tarlton told trustees that there are currently 350 students in special education.

The Board also approved a resolution approving payment to all employees of the school district who were prevented from working one day in January due to inclement weather.

Hart explained the resolution is necessary in order for hourly employees to receive wages for the day. He added that the district hasn’t had to adopt such a resolution since 2014.

Following a 40-minute executive session, the Board accepted the resignations of Kristi Branton, a teacher at LHHS; Zach Brown, agriculture teacher at LHHS; Benete Doerr, a teacher/coach at Liberty Hill Junior High; Courtney Givens, a teacher at LHJH; Catherine Heath, a teacher/coach at LHHS; Tim Maher, teacher/coach at LHHS; Kimberly McKinzey, teacher at LHJH; Becky Melson, a teacher at Rancho Sienna; Emily Newman, a teacher at Rancho Sienna; Jennifer Norris, a teacher at Rancho Sienna; Lisa Roberts, a teacher at LHJH; and Stacey Splawn, a teacher at Rancho Sienna.

The Board approved the employment of Brittni Jakstas, a teacher at Rancho Sienna; Lance Jones, PE teacher and boys coach at LHJH; Summer Neary, special programs director for the district; and Megan Riggins, counselor at the high school.

Also Monday, the Board heard a presentation from Liberty Hill High School DECA students who are competing this weekend in Atlanta. The students presented their business plan to recruit a Whataburger to Liberty Hill, which will compete with others from across the country at the DECA International Career Development Conference.

During the public comments portion of the board meeting, trustees heard from Melanie Kriewaldt-Roth, who encouraged them to take action before school is out to implement a law enforcement presence in Liberty Hill schools.

All trustees were present Monday.

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