LHISD adopts 2018-2019 school calendar


By Rachel Madison

The Liberty Hill Independent School District’s Board of Trustees unanimously approved the adoption of the 2018-2019 school year calendar at their monthly meeting Monday, which includes a few changes, like an earlier start date and a later spring break.

LHISD Assistant Superintendent Dr. Toni Hicks said the district calendar committee consists of a group of teachers, parents, campus principals, district personnel and community members. Together, this group set several goals as they planned next school year’s calendar.

These goals included keeping 187 teacher days as well as at least 75,600 minutes, which is required by the state, Hicks said. They also wanted to continue holding a parent-teacher conference day in October and create more balanced semesters. Other goals included having a full week off for Thanksgiving, 10 days off for Christmas break, having the school year end before Memorial Day so that high school students could take advantage of summer college courses, and holding graduation on a Friday.

“In looking at the calendar compared to this year, we really worked to address those goals,” Hicks said. “The first and second semesters are more balanced with 84 and 89 days, [respectively]. The first instructional day is a little earlier this year and graduation day is also earlier.”

The first day of school is Aug. 15, while the last day of school will be May 23, 2019. Graduation will be held May 24, 2019. That allows for 173 student days and 187 teacher days, Hicks said. Of those additional teacher days, three are professional development days, two are work days and one is parent-teacher conference day. Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks stayed relatively the same, centering around their respective holidays, but spring break was moved to one week later, beginning March 18, to align with the University of Texas spring break.

With the 173 student days and three professional development days, which are allowed by the state via a staff development waiver, that gives the district a total of 76,560 minutes. That gives the school district two extra days in case of bad weather, Hicks said.

The staff development waiver, which was also discussed and unanimously approved during the meeting, allows teachers up to five days of professional development. The waiver, which was previously good for three years, is now only good for one year at a time and must be reapproved each year due to some changes made at the state level.

“We are only going to use three of those days for professional development as a district,” Hicks said. “In the past you could use those days before the school year started, but that is no longer the case. They must now be used during the school year and they are required to have an agenda so that it’s shown that teachers are receiving the professional development time that will help our kids reach higher levels.”

During the meeting, Hicks also presented on the accelerated instruction the district provides to students who do not pass certain subjects after taking their end-of-course assessments.

“If they don’t perform satisfactorily on an assessment, then we need to make sure there is an intervention plan so that they can be successful on the next test,” Hicks said. “[That instruction is] tailored for the student and the campus. Something that’s a great celebration of our district is we do not have high numbers represented here. The majority of our students are passing our EOCs, but we do have some students that need more tailored instruction to make sure that on the next assessment they are performing satisfactorily.”

Various things schools in the district are doing to help students pass as part of the accelerated instruction program include targeted instruction, before and after school tutorials, specialized small group instruction and closely monitoring progress.

LHISD Superintendent Dr. Rob Hart said the district’s current enrollment is 4,077 students. Average daily attendance, or ADA, is 3,829 and the budget is built on 3,716.

Current attendance rates at LHISD schools include Liberty Hill Intermediate at 95.83 percent; Liberty Hill Elementary at 95.82 percent; Liberty Hill Junior High at 95.26 percent; Bill Burden Elementary at 94.88 percent; Rancho Sienna Elementary at 94.77 percent; and Liberty Hill High School at 94.42 percent.

“With what’s going on with the flu right now that’s really great,” Hart said. “I know of at least five school districts in the state of Texas that are shut down this week just to get caught up and get the flu bug out of there.”

During the meeting, sixth graders from Liberty Hill Intermediate School and seventh and eighth graders from Liberty Hill Junior High School UIL participants were recognized. The LHJH robotics team was also recognized for earning second place at the Texas Computer Education Association’s Regional Robotics Competition on Jan. 20. The robotics team is heading to the state competition in April.

The Board convened into a closed session for more than two hours for a superintendent evaluation and discussion of real property and personnel. Following the closed session, the Board approved the retirements of Julia Engelmann, a campus guidance counselor at LHHS, and Paul Rubin, a science teacher at LHHS. The Board also approved a contract extension for an additional year for LHISD central office and campus administrators.

In other business, Hart mentioned the district’s bad weather day on Jan. 16, which does not have to be made up due to having enough school minutes banked.

The Board also unanimously approved the continuance of a joint election agreement and election services contract with Williamson County Elections Office, which is the organization the LHISD hires for election management each year, Hart said.

The next meeting of the Board of Trustees will be March 19 at 6 p.m. at Rancho Sienna Elementary.