LHISD adds Pre-K teaching position

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By SHELLY WILKISON

School trustees approved funding this week for an additional pre-kindergarten teacher at Liberty Hill Elementary School.

Just as enrollment is growing across the school district, the numbers in the Head Start pre-kindergarten program are also on the rise.

Elementary Principal Melanie Herbst said enrollment in pre-kindergarten jumped from 45 at the beginning of the school year to 63 at the end of the first semester.

Superintendent Rob Hart said the administration chose to wait until now to create the position so that the new principal could be involved in hiring a new teacher. Herbst of Round Rock replaced Jan Tredemeyer, who retired in December 2014.

Herbst said current pre-kindergarten classrooms have more students than permitted. However, some substitute aides were put in place to help.

The federally-funded Head Start program will pay for the aide that will be hired for the new teacher’s classroom and the school district will pay for the certified teacher position. Adding the new classroom will drop the current pre-kindergarten 20-1 student-teacher ratio to 18-1, Herbst said.

Hart said total enrollment district wide has increased by 21 students since Christmas break. As of Jan. 16, enrollment was at 3,250 with an average of 250 students per grade level.

Also Monday, Trustees approved a Joint Election Agreement with the City of Liberty Hill for administration of the May 9 local elections. A contract for election services between LHISD and Williamson County was tabled until the February meeting as the document was not available from the County prior to Monday’s meeting.

On the Liberty Hill ISD Board of Trustees, voters will make decisions in Place 3, currently held by David Nix; Place 4, held by Leslye Pogue; and Place 5, held by Alfie Perrin.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Shaun Bunting and David Roebuck addressed the Board about the conditions of the agriculture barn facility on the campus of Liberty Hill Junior High. At the December 2014 board meeting, the parents first raised the issue of safety concerns at the facility. This week, they reported that some of those problems had been repaired in the past month and thanked the administration and trustees for their attention.

Bunting submitted a petition containing the signatures of 160 people requesting the district construct a new facility. He also presented a list of questions to the Board that he requested responses to, as well as a list of repairs that he said are still needed to bring the building “up to code.” He attached photos of some of the problem areas.

“We’ve seen some changes at the barn already,” said Roebuck. However, he noted that 30 percent of the water lines at the barn had been ruptured during hard freezes earlier this month.

He said he was optimistic that improvements will be made.

“The communication doesn’t need to be combative,” he said.

In other business Monday, students from the various campuses recognized school board members for their service as part of School Board Recognition Month in Texas.

Students at Liberty Hill Junior High presented trustees with gifts made by art students. Liberty Hill Intermediate School students wrote messages of appreciation on construction paper hands that were then attached to a heart that was placed in the Board Room. Letters of appreciation and framed artwork were presented by the high school and elementary school. Bill Burden Elementary School created a video where every class thanked trustees for their service.

Also this week, the Board reviewed and approved multiple updates to local policy as advised by Texas Association of School Boards resulting from legislation enacted in 2013.

The Board also heard a report on the School Report Card for each campus. The information, which can be found on the district’s website at www.libertyhill.txed.net, provides a glimpse into the demographics of each school, school financial information for 2012-2013, its performance ratings and an accountability rating. All LHISD schools achieved a Met Standard rating for 2014 — the highest rating awarded by the state.

Trustees also heard a report from the contractor for the district’s final construction project of the 2010 bond package. The remodel of what was formerly the Intermediate campus will be complete in February. The campus on Grove Street will become the new home for Central Administration offices. The current Administration Building on State Highway 29 will be sold.

Following a 30-minute executive session, the Board approved the resignation of speech teacher Angela Butler.

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