Lake Travis ISD superintendent appears in broadcast following extended school closure

Superintendent Brad Lancaster appeared in a Facebook live broadcast April 23. (Courtesy Lake Travis ISD)
Superintendent Brad Lancaster appeared in a Facebook live broadcast April 23. (Courtesy Lake Travis ISD)

Superintendent Brad Lancaster appeared in a Facebook live broadcast April 23. (Courtesy Lake Travis ISD)

Lake Travis ISD Superintendent Brad Lancaster appeared in a live Facebook broadcast April 23 to answer the community’s questions.

The broadcast was Lancaster’s first since Gov. Greg Abbott announced April 17 the decision to extend school closures for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. The order has left many students, teachers and families with unanswered questions.

This closure means a number of canceled events for students, including spring sports, fine arts competitions, school field trips and the senior prom.

“I want to say we’re all very sorry about that,” Lancaster said. “It’s a very hard way to end the school year, and I know it’s hard on all of us.”

The district launched its remote learning plan March 26, and students will continue to work virtually until the end of the scheduled school year May 22. Lancaster confirmed LTISD has no plans to extend the school year beyond that date.

Grading modifications were necessary to adapt to the changing school environment. Following a lengthy discussion, input from the community and a previously postponed decision, LTISD released grading guidelines

April 22. The guidelines vary depending on grade and stand as a temporary adjustment during the pandemic.

Lancaster recognizes this has been an emotional and controversial topic for students and families. Specific grading questions should be directed to a student’s teacher, counselor or campus administrator.

“I think we all know that one size cannot fit all,” Lancaster said, adding that he is grateful to the staff working to find a middle ground for students.

For those students who receive incomplete grades on their remote work, a summer session is still set to occur. At this time, there is no word as to whether summer school will be completed virtually or in person, according to Lancaster.

The district has received questions regarding personal belongings left on campus by teachers and students. Similarly, students are required to return textbooks and other district materials.

A plan is underway to develop a schedule for retrieving and returning any necessary items. Multiple classrooms are scheduled for furniture upgrades this summer; therefore, teachers will need to return to campus to clear their desks.

Lancaster explained LTISD is working to solve this issue in the safest way possible, avoiding large groups of students and potential reunions on campus.

Traditionally, the summer months would bring various athletic camps and child care options for LTISD children. The district is working on those details, and according to Lancaster, some may be canceled.

Kindergarten enrollment for the 2020-21 school year is also set to take place next month. The district hopes to begin the enrollment process by May 4 or May 5. Lancaster requested the community’s continued patience as these details are worked out.

The 2020-21 school year is still set to begin Aug. 1, as previously scheduled, though there is no guarantee any students will be able to return to campus on that date.

“As soon as we know what we’re doing in the fall, we will communicate that change as early as we can,” Lancaster said.

Any specific campus questions related to any makeup work, canceled field trips, graduation supplies and more should be directed to a student’s campus principal or teacher.

Lancaster ended the broadcast by answering a question asking how parents can aid teachers and administrators during this time.

“The best thing you can do is be patient,” Lancaster said. “Give them the gift of time and grace; we will try to do the same for you.”

By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.