Summertime for school districts often reminds me of an ant hill. From the outside, everything appears calm with empty parking lots, still playgrounds and quiet fields. However, behind the scenes, there is a scurry of activity. June, July and August in Leander ISD provide our administrators, teachers and staff with a critical time to prepare for the coming school year.
During the 2016-17 school year, our schools housed more than 38,000 students. That kind of traffic creates a lot of wear and tear, which can be difficult to address while our facilities are teeming with activity. As careful stewards of your taxpayer dollars, we understand that keeping our facilities in safe, working order for generations of students requires diligent monitoring and careful budgeting to schedule these major maintenance projects. So, before the school year ended, our amazing team of facility managers had already begun compiling its list of summer to-do items.
As you can imagine, a to-do list for maintaining some 50 schools and grounds, stadiums and administration buildings, some of which are decades old, can be extensive. To give you an idea of what our staff is working on to prepare for the class of 2018, I have outlined a short list of summer projects.
While spending summers with my two boys at home, I am always reminded of just how much food our kids can go through. As such, repairing and replacing kitchen equipment in our cafeterias — coolers, freezers, ovens, dishwashers — is a major project this summer for several of our schools. Many of the big-ticket repairs you are making at home, we are also making to our schools, like replacing water heaters; repairing roofs and HVAC units; and repainting. Fire alarms at multiple schools are also scheduled to be replaced.
With our grounds being used for both school and community activities, several of our school parking lots will be repaved and restriped. A few of our middle and high schools are also due for track and tennis court resurfacing, and football field renovations.
Another major summer project includes moving unused portables from some schools to schools with increasing student enrollments. This is one reason we encourage our LISD families to submit enrollment and transfer requests as early as possible, to ensure we have ample time to prepare classrooms and facilities for all students on their first day back to school.
Our teachers and staff are likewise taking advantage of this important preparation time. LISD’s Instruction & Professional Learning team provides in-person, online and blended continuing education sessions throughout the summer. District educators and administrators also attend conferences throughout the area and state to learn from education experts from across the country.
Staff use these summer months to cull their collective knowledge gained through professional learning conferences, book studies, research and best practice sharing. They work together to create new lesson plans, evaluate campus learning goals, adopt new efficiency practices and launch innovative programs.
As I mentioned months ago, a number of calendar and regulatory restrictions made setting a district calendar for 2017-18 very difficult and required several changes. One of those changes included restructuring our staff continuous improvement conference and moving it from February to August, prior to the start of school. Our staff is currently hard at work planning this new Professional Learning Communities (PLC) Summit, which I look forward to discussing in next week’s column.
I never discount what a privilege it is to be part of a district and community that is so committed to providing the best education for our school children. I am excited for you and your children to experience all that we have in store for the 2017-18 school year and to build your bright futures with us.