LHISD, City have meeting of the minds

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By Rachel Madison & Kristen Meriwether

A renewed sense of camaraderie was reached at a joint meeting of the Liberty Hill Independent School District and the City of Liberty Hill last week, where the entities discussed mutual concerns as well as future plans.

Council member Crystal Mancilla said the overall feeling she got from the meeting was that it would be the first of many between the school district, school board, city council, city officials, and the city and school district police departments.

“We’re looking at doing these meetings quarterly so we can start working collaboratively and supporting one another in the future of our citizens and students,” she said. “It was the first of many meetings to talk about the growth of our town and how we can support each other and work together as good neighbors.”

Mayor Liz Branigan said the school district and the City had a disagreement many years ago, which was the main reason for the two entities not working together in recent years, but in the past several months, the groups have realized the need to work together. She said LHISD approached the City to set up a meeting, which she was “very pleased” about.

“When we met, we talked about the [disagreement] and it turns out the causes of that falling out were so very minor that we decided to just resolve the lingering hard feelings,” she said. “That time is over, and my administration is looking forward to building bridges and mending relationships with school district [personnel].”

LHISD Superintendent Steve Snell said he has a similar goal.

“This is something that I had as a goal since I got here, to restore the relationship and to coordinate with all the city and county services,” he said. “I think everyone left that meeting optimistic. We have a great relationship moving forward and as long as we’re all on the same page, then it really helps us work together and support each other and the kids in the community.”

Snell said a wide variety of topics were discussed, including the need for more youth sports fields, infrastructure for future school district and city projects, and traffic concerns on Loop 332.

Mancilla said while no decisions were made at the meeting, it gave each entity a chance to hear each other out and learn each other’s visions for the future, as well as the concerns of each entity.

“There were talks of annexation of the high school, and what that would look like, and we talked about how to alleviate traffic for bus routes in the downtown area by possibly creating a new route or road,” she said. “We talked about the need for more baseball fields in town, and how we could create more fields.”

Snell added that another big thing was to make sure there were enough sidewalks downtown for mobility of students and the general public, as well as collaboration with new developers as they build new projects in Liberty Hill.

“The City has done a really good job when developers come in and need permission to do a MUD (municipal utility district) to make sure there is land for a school site there,” he said. “We want to make sure that continues as developers come in.”

Branigan said, overall, she was impressed with the quality of the dialogue throughout the meeting, adding that this meeting was the first step to creating a workable relationship between the City and LHISD.

The next meeting between LHISD and the City will take place in January 2022.

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