LHISD Board approves process to replace Hart

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By SHELLY WILKISON

Liberty Hill school Trustees accepted the official retirement letter of Superintendent Rob Hart Monday, and approved a contract with Texas Association of School Boards to find his replacement.

Hart, who has served Liberty Hill ISD as superintendent since 2008, will retire in December. His retirement letter, which was dated July 16, was read into the record Monday night by Trustee Kathy Major, who served as principal in Hart’s administration and retired last year.

“My family and I have been blessed to live in great communities throughout my career, and Liberty Hill is one of the greatest,” he wrote. “I am retiring with pride and satisfaction knowing that we have done many great things for students over the years, and I am particularly proud of our accomplishments at Liberty Hill.”

Hart’s career in public education spans 34 years.

TASB will begin the search in August for Hart’s replacement as outlined in a contract approved by Trustees Monday. The search will cost the school district $8,200.

Board President Clay Cole told The Independent that the Board would like to name a replacement in early December.

“Liberty Hill is undoubtedly one of the best school districts in the state of Texas because of Dr. Hart’s tremendous leadership. Dr. Hart carries remarkable educational insight and knowledge and his great work will always be remembered by the Liberty Hill community,” Cole said.

Also Monday, the Board heard a report from Assistant Superintendent Toni Hicks regarding results of the STAAR exam and how Liberty Hill students compared to others statewide, in the region and in districts similar to LHISD.

Trustees also approved off-campus private or commercial PE substitutions for the new school year. Those included Kelley Performance Horses, Acrotex Gym, Lost Creek Aquatics and Twin Creeks County Club.

In other business this week, Trustees adopted the 2018-2019 Student Code of Conduct. Assistant Principal Chad Pritle said the document had changed little from the last academic year. Typically, the majority of changes occur after the Legislature meets in odd-numbered years.

The items contained in the Code of Conduct are based on recommendations made by TASB.

The Board heard reports from administrators on the district’s technology projects, staff development, as well as an update on the proposed budget.

The Board also heard a summary of the first quarter 2018 demographic report, which Hart said was similar to the fourth quarter of 2017. The most recent report, which was produced by School District Strategies of Dallas, projects LHISD enrollment will more than double in size within 10 years to 8,373 students.

In personnel matters Monday, the Board approved the employment of Justin Walker as assistant principal at Liberty Hill High School. Walker, who currently serves as assistant principal at Lago Vista High School, was hired to replace Jonathan Bever, who was recently named Interim Principal at LHHS. Bever replaces Mario Bye, who resigned in June to become Principal at Rudder High School in Bryan.

LHISD Human Resources Director Bob Mabry told The Independent this week that the principal position will be filled by December.

In other personnel matters Monday, the Board accepted the resignations of Andrew Anker, a band director at the Intermediate School; Liberty Hill High School Principal Mario Bye; Sherry DuPre’, ARD facilitator for the district; Christopher Klepper, adapted PE teacher; and Andrea Vineyard, a teacher at Bill Burden Elementary.

The Board approved the employment of the following: Christine Ingram-Appleby as ARD facilitator; Melissa Baxley, intervention teacher at Bill Burden; Hollee Braun, instructional coach; Christy Cowling, diagnostician; Paige Ellisor, CTE teacher/coach at the high school; Melissa Finley, teacher at Bill Burden; Matthew Gately, teacher at high school; Colleen Hawkins, teacher at Rancho Sienna Elementary; Steven Hutcherson, teacher/coach at high school; Laurie McDaniel, teacher at Junior High; Mack Oliphant, teacher /coach at high school; Holly Richardson, teacher/ coach at high school; Melissa Scott, teacher at Rancho Sienna; Lexi Simpson, teacher at Bill Burden/Rancho; Audrey Spicer, teacher at high school; Michaila Spradlin, teacher at high school; Hector Vega, teacher at high school; Justin Walker, high school assistant principal; and Tamera White, high school teacher.

During the public comments portion of the meeting, Alan Roth shared his opposition to a new random drug testing program that will be put in place at the high school this fall.

Roth cited studies that suggested random drug testing was not effective as a deterrent, and “had no benefits.” He also suggested it was an invasion of privacy in that rumors would quickly surface about those who test positive.

He asked trustees to consider allowing students to opt out of testing on religious, medical or ethical grounds.

The Board approved the random drug testing program in June. High school students involved in extra-curricular activities and those who obtain parking permits are subject to random testing.

The Board is set to meet again at 6 p.m. July 30 in a workshop with members of a school facilities committee, which has been meeting to discuss facility needs in anticipation of a future bond election.

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