Here are 10 of the top stories that affected Dripping Springs ISD throughout 2023, from an election to a February winter storm. This list is noncomprehensive.

Dripping Springs ISD bond approved by voters

The $223.7 million bond proposed by Dripping Springs ISD was approved by 64.1% of voters as of May 6. The passing of the May bond package came six months after a similar, but $481.13 million, bond failed in November. The bond will allow for the construction of a new elementary school, expansion of Sycamore Springs Middle school and the design for three additional schools to address district growth. The package also includes capital improvements, new buses, and a new 18-plus special education facility.

Dripping Springs ISD to implement school marshal program amid shortage of officers

Dripping Springs ISD opted into Texas’ school marshal program, in which an employee hired by the district will serve as an armed responder to a potential intruder. Following the passage of House Bill 3 from the 88th legislative session, which requires armed security on all campuses, DSISD trustees voted to nearly double the amount of school resource officers, or SROs, in the district May 22. This would have added three SROs to the four already in the district through an agreement with the Hays County Sheriff’s Office. Instead, the county was unable to provide the additional officers due to challenges with staffing.

Dripping Springs ISD joins lawsuit against TEA amid accountability rating frustration

Dripping Springs ISD joined other school districts across the state in a lawsuit against the Texas Education Agency. The lawsuit, Kingsville ISD, et. al., v. Morath, alleges the agency did not provide districts with explanations of the changed rules to the statewide rating system that evaluates the academic performance of schools. Due to this, district officials have expressed concern that performance ratings for the 2022-23 school year would be lower because of the way they are calculated.

Dripping Springs ISD budget to provide staff raises, double school resource officers

Dripping Springs ISD trustees approved a fiscal year 2023-24 budget with 61% dedicated to payroll, totaling a $122.8 million general fund budget for the fiscal year. In a May 22 meeting of the trustees, a 3% pay increase for teachers and staff was approved for 2023-24. Additionally, the board voted to nearly double the amount of school resource officers, or SROs, to campuses. During a board meeting Nov. 13, trustees approved three changes to the compensation plan as well as a one-time retention incentive.

Dripping Springs ISD introduces policy to punish student vaping

Dripping Springs ISD officials updated the student code of conduct for the 2023-24 school year, which included a state-mandated disciplinary action requiring the district to place students caught with vape devices in a disciplinary alternative education program. House Bill 114, which took effect Sept. 1, was passed during the 88th legislative session and changed the punishment for students caught with an e-cigarette or other vaping device.

2 sworn into the Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees

Rob McClelland and Kim Cousins were sworn into the Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees during a regular meeting May 22 after each winning an at-large position during the May election. Cousins and McClelland won places against Jeffrey Aylstock and incumbent Ron Jones. Cousins won 30% of votes, while McClelland won 25%.

Dripping Springs ISD faces 38% vacancy rate of bus drivers amid student growth

Dripping Springs ISD is facing a shortage of bus drivers amid a rapidly growing district. Three campuses are overcapacity, including Dripping Springs Elementary School, Walnut Springs Elementary School and Sycamore Springs Middle School. These campuses experienced growth up to 14.4% over the past academic year, according to DSISD officials. At the start of the 2023-24 school year, there were 37 bus drivers, out of what should be a staff of 53. The district raised bus driver compensation from a starting salary of $21.50 an hour to $30 an hour to combat the staffing shortage.

Dripping Springs ISD staff will be paid for days missed during winter storm closures

Winter Storm Mara, which began Jan. 30, caused power outages, debris from fallen tree limbs and loss of water pressure. Dripping Springs ISD schools faced closures from Jan. 31-Feb. 3. DSISD staff were paid in full for their contractual work days during the emergency closure of the district due to the storm.

Dripping Springs ISD accepts behavioral health funds from Hays County

During a regular board meeting Jan. 23, the Dripping Springs ISD school board approved a social service funding agreement with Hays County for mental health services. Hays County received funds from the Behavioral Health for Schools Grant through the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA. The county is awarding the money to districts who sign a subrecipient agreement and agree only to use the funds as allowed. As a result of COVID-19, ARPA is providing these funds to help pay for behavioral health services for Dripping Springs students affected by the pandemic.

Dripping Springs ISD STAAR results show average student meets grade-level across district

Dripping Springs ISD students demonstrated academic growth over the past two years in most subjects. Average passage rates were higher than what they were in 2022 in all subjects except third grade reading, seventh grade reading, fourth grade math and seventh grade math, in which results showed a slight decline, according to TEA data. DSISD students in grades 3-8 continue to have higher passing averages than the rest of the state since 2021, and higher passing averages for reading than for math.