LISD trustees discuss school start times, agree to revisit issue later

Dr. Bruce Gearing prepares to start his first Leander ISD board of trustees meeting as superintendent Sept. 5.

Dr. Bruce Gearing prepares to start his first Leander ISD board of trustees meeting as superintendent Sept. 5.

A committee formed to study and recommend drop-off times at schools to ease traffic has quickly found itself facing a host of other complex, yet related, issues, Leander ISD officials admitted at the Sept. 5 board of trustees meeting.

LISD Chief of Staff Matt Smith delivered a report from the Bell Schedule Committee to six trustees and Superintendent Bruce Gearing, who started Sept. 3.

All 43 ISD schools start within a 70-minute window—7:45 a.m. to 8:55 a.m.—and end within a 75-minute window—2:50 p.m. to 4:05 p.m.—according to the LISD website.

The Bell Schedule Committee was formed in October 2018 to try to alleviate traffic in and around schools during drop-off times. During his presentation, Smith said the Committee suggested extending elementary, middle and high school start times to a total window of 120 minutes, staggering them in 40-minute intervals.

“As our district grows [by] 1,000 students per year, traffic becomes more and more of a problem,” Smith said.

Smith said the Committee—comprised of six principals, six central office staff members, two trustees, one former trustee and one teacher—was also tasked with determining how instruction time could be added as a result of start-finish time changes.

“As we started peeling back, we found other things that needed to be considered,” said trustee Grace Barber-Jordan, who serves on the committee.

Smith, also a committee member, said academic achievement, school day length and even the amount of time between elementary school classes became part of the discussion.

“That’s what happens sometimes when you have that thoughtful dialogue with multiple stakeholders in the room,” Smith said.

A diverse Committee came up with some diverse solutions, according to trustee and committee member Pam Waggoner.

“Everyone had a solution, but no one agreed on what the best solution was,” she said.

Before providing final recommendations in December, the committee recommended seeking feedback on proposed start times to address questions and concerns, according to LISD documents.

However, trustees suggested to Smith that he and the Committee ought to come up with several options before soliciting feedback from stakeholders—primarily parents, students and LISD staff.

Trustees agreed to revisit the issue at a future meeting.

Earlier in the meeting, during citizen comments, Mavis Chase—a working mother of three children with one each in elementary, middle and high school—said she had read about the proposed 40-minute gaps between drop-off times.

She asked the board not to spread apart drop-off times so much, saying it would create problems with her employer. Placing drop-off times 40 minutes apart for each school, she said, is “too much for a working parent.”

“It is a challenge when you have kids at multiple schools,” Grace said.

At the start of the meeting, Cadet Col. Daniel Guerrero, a Leander High School senior and Air Force JROTC member, performed the National Anthem and Texas State Anthem while in uniform. Guerrero leads over 100 cadets enrolled in the program, according to trustee president Trace Bode.

Trustee Jim MacKay did not attend the meeting.


Travis County commissioners voted to allow staff to begin contract negotiations for a new women's jail facility at a Dec. 10 meeting. (Courtesy Travis County Sheriff's Office)
Travis County begins contract negotiations for women’s jail facility as overall jail population continues to decline

The county has planned to build a new, separate women’s facility for years, despite some pushback from local activists.

This is the Estancia property that was purchased by Texas Children's on Dec. 10. (Courtesy Texas Children's Hospital)
Texas Children’s Hospital eyes further expansion in Austin with purchases of land

Houston-based Texas Children's Hospital has closed on the purchase of two plots of land in the Austin area.

Williamson County Commissioners Court established the primary early voting locations Dec. 10. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Most early voting polling locations finalized for March 2020 primaries

Court establishes primary early voting locations ahead of March 2020 elections.

The primary election is March 3. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
2020 primary election: Candidates file to run for offices representing Cedar Park and Leander

Read the list of candidates who filed for the March 3 primary elections.

(Courtesy StarCycle)
Indoor cycling studio coming to Cedar Park

StarCycle, an indoor cycling studio, plans to open in Cedar Park in January

Common winter allergies in Texas are caused by pollen from the Ashe juniper—also known as a mountain cedar. The tree is native to the area. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
As pollen counts rise in Central Texas, learn about cedar fever and allergy prevention

As temperatures cool heading into the winter season in Central Texas, pollen counts from Ashe juniper trees begin to climb, causing seasonal allergies referred to locally by residents as “cedar fever.”

Cedar Park resident Jose Luis Sanchez—wearing the gold coat he received for grilling his millionth steak—is pictured outside LongHorn Steakhouse in Cedar Park. (Courtesy LongHorn Steakhouse)
Cedar Park cook honored for grilling millionth steak

Cedar Park resident Jose Luis Sanchez has been recognized by his employer, LongHorn Steakhouse, for grilling an estimated one million steaks.

The primary election for Williamson County officers will be held March 3, 2020 and the general election for county officers will be held November 3, 2020. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper).
Williamson County elected officials candidates have filed for March 2020 primary election

The deadline to file for a place on the Nov. 2020 ballot was Dec. 9. A total of ten county elected positions are open, including two on the commissioners court.

The dealership will be located on RM 620 just west of Parmer Lane in Northwest Austin. (Rendering courtesy Park Place Dealerships)
Jaguar, Land Rover dealership under construction on RM 620 in Northwest Austin

Construction is underway on the first Austin-area Park Place Dealership, which will sell Jaguars and Land Rovers.

Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza, at the lectern, speaks at a November 2017 press conference. Garza filed her candidacy for Travis County attorney on Dec. 9.
Delia Garza files for Travis County attorney race, will finish term as Austin Mayor Pro Tem

Austin Mayor Pro Tem Delia Garza filed her candidacy paperwork Dec. 9 to run for Travis County attorney as a Democrat.

Friends of the Cedar Park Library presented a ceremonial check for $20,000 to the library at the City Council meeting Dec. 5: (from left) Friends members Shira Ledman, Bob Ledman, Vera Vasudevan, Margi Leake, Treasurer Pat Watson, Susie Andrews and President Mike Kredt. Library Director Julia Mitschke is seen at right. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Nonprofit group presents $20,000 to Cedar Park Public Library

Friends of the Cedar Park Library presented a ceremonial check for $20,000 to the Cedar Park Public Library on Dec. 5.

Back to top