School Board hears district, campus ratings

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By Lauren Jette

The Liberty Hill Board of Trustees met Monday and heard a report on district and campus accountability ratings, set the tax rate and approved several additional agenda items.

Curriculum Director Claudeane Braun presented a summary of the Texas Education Agency’s accountability report to board members.

Currently, Texas schools are given a performance rating label of “met standard” or “improvement required”.

All Liberty Hill campuses, with the exception of Liberty Hill Elementary, which was paired with Bill Burden Elementary, received an accountability rating of “met standard”, Braun said.

All schools were graded on four indexes: student achievement, student progress, closing performance gaps and postsecondary readiness, with all schools going above the target scores for each index, Braun said.

Distinction designations were awarded to schools that met eligible measures and were in the top quarter compared to 40 other similar school districts.

Braun said Liberty Hill Intermediate earned one distinction for top 25 percent in student progress, while Liberty Hill High School earned four distinctions for academic achievement in Reading/ELA, Mathematics, Science and top 25 percent in closing performance gaps.

“We’re very proud of the ratings we received, especially in the post secondary readiness area,” Braun said. “We’re not where we want to be, but we will continue to work on it. We are grateful that we are competitive with other schools.” Braun said the high school earned two distinctions last year, in closing performance gaps and in science.

“The high school has seen a lot of progress with students,” she said, noting that different strategies and tutorials were put in place to help students. “We’re seeing the benefits of all those changes. That’s exactly what we were hoping to see, that all our effort is paying off.”

Teaching positions added

Board members approved four new teaching positions for two of the campuses. Superintendent Robert Hart said that as of the meeting time, the district had enrolled 574 new students during open registration, with about a week left.

With grades four and below having to adhere to a 22 students to one teacher ratio per state law, Hart said at the rate the district was enrolling new second graders, two teaching positions would need to be added at Bill Burden Elementary to keep classes in compliance, while at least two sixth grade teaching positions would be necessary at the intermediate campus.

“These classes are getting huge,” Hart told the board, citing that the incoming sixth grade class will be Liberty Hill’s first 300-plus student class.

“(Adding these positions) will help get us through this year,” Hart said.

Trustee Mike Bowles made a motion to add two new positions at both the intermediate campus and at Bill Burden Elementary. His motion was seconded and approved by the board.

Tax rate approved

Board members also elected to keep the tax rate the same as the current year — $1.54 per $100 value. Hart pointed out that the average market value of homes in Liberty Hill had increased from just more than $284,000 last year to more than $300,000 this year.

Architectural firm hired

The selection of the architectural firm Huckabee & Associates was approved by board members.

“We’re going to have to go for a bond issue this year,” Hart said.

A future elementary school site has been secured in the new Rancho Sienna subdivision off Ronald Reagan Boulevard, with plans to present a bond to voters for the new school in May 2016.

Hart said the district had worked with this firm before on other projects, including the $86 million bond package approved by voters in 2010 to build a new high school and athletic complex, and make improvements to existing campuses.

“They know us and they know our expectations,” he said.

In other business Monday, the Board approved the Student Code of Conduct, the district PDAS appraisers and appraisal calendar, physical education substitutions, student and staff technology acceptable use policies and the district investment policy.

The resignation of third grade teacher Kylie Chapman was approved, along with the employment of third grade teacher Amy Waters, second grade teacher Karen Escamilla, and sixth grade teacher Catherine Solanik.

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