Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees approve new Walnut Springs Elementary principal, hear bond updates at April meeting

The Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees met on April 22.

The Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees met on April 22.

Image description
Melinda Gardner
The Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees voted unanimously to approve Melinda Gardner as the next principal of Walnut Springs Elementary School at their April 22 meeting. Gardner, who is currently the principal of Lost Pines Elementary in Bastrop, Texas, was recommended for the position by DSISD Superintendent Bruce Gearing. She will begin serving in her role after current Walnut Springs Elementary Principal Julie Pryor retires at the close of the school year.

Bond updates
Bond Construction Project Manager Mike Garcia updated the board on the progress of projects tied to the 2014 and 2018 DSISD construction bonds. Garcia noted several upcoming progress points for renovations to Dripping Springs High School. He said that construction documents would be completed by May 6, and that the general contractor for the project would put the plans out for bid by the following day. In June, a contract would then be presented to the board for approval.

Garcia touched on athletic improvements as well, including the replacement of the Dripping Springs High and Dripping Springs Middle School turf and tracks. Turf at Tiger Stadium is set to be replaced as well. Plans for athletic improvements are currently out to bid, according to Garcia, and a contract will be ready to present to the board in May.

Sex education curriculum updates
Nicole Poenitzsch, assistant superintendent of learning and innovation for DSISD, gave a report on the School Health Advisory Committee’s progress in selecting a new recommended sex education curriculum for district middle schoolers. SHAC met on April 16 to plan the scope and sequence of lessons drawn from the Baylor Scott & White Adolescent Wellness and Sexual Health curriculum, which the committee voted to support on April 1 after hearing considerable community input.

Poenitzsch summarized to the board several shifts and substitutions that SHAC voted on April 16, primarily the choice to substitute several chapters of the seventh grade Scott & White curriculum with chapters published by Scott & White for eighth grade students. Those substitutions include more detailed information about sexually transmitted diseases and a chapter about contraception. However, parents will be able to opt their children out of any lesson in the sexual education curriculum.

Blocks of time have been set aside for parents to examine the curriculum in full at the DSISD Learning and Innovation Office through May 2, and feedback is welcome, according to Poenitzsch. Another SHAC meeting will be held May 14 to finalize the committee’s recommendation to the board of trustees, who will vote on SHAC’s proposed curriculum.
By Olivia Aldridge
Olivia is the reporter for Community Impact's Southwest Austin edition. She graduated from Presbyterian College with a bachelor's degree in English and creative writing in 2017. Olivia was a reporter and producer at South Carolina Public Radio in Columbia, South Carolina before joining Community Impact in Austin.


Outdoor venues in all Texas counties will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity starting May 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spectators to be welcomed back to Texas outdoor sporting events May 31 at 25% of venue capacity

Venue owners must operate under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing.

The new Summer Moon Coffee is located at 5701 W. Slaughter Lane, Ste. A170, Austin. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Summer Moon Coffee now open in Circle C Ranch

The newest Summer Moon Coffee location officially opened May 25.

Each eligible child will receive $285 in benefits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Some Texas students eligible for one-time federal benefit to aid with food purchases

Texas received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion in pandemic food benefits.

Zilker Theatre Productions announced May 28 that its summer musical, "Mamma Mia," has been postponed to 2021. (Courtesy Zilker Theatre Production)
Zilker Theatre Productions postpones summer musical to 2021

This will be the first time the free outdoor show in Zilker Park has not run since it began in 1959.

A photo of a man making a curbside purchase at Bikealot
South Austin bike shops connect with new cyclists during “no ordinary bike month”

Local bike shops have seen a swell of Austinites dusting off old bikes to get moving during the coronavirus pandemic.

A map of the Jester King Brewery property
Jester King Brewery to reopen with new, park-style amenities May 29

Following Gov. Greg Abbott's go-ahead for bars and breweries to reopen last week, Jester King is opening its property to guests.

A screen shot of Dr. Mark Escott speaking
Austin Public Health planning response in case of coronavirus hospitalization spike

As local health authorities monitor an upward trend in COVID-19 cases, they are bracing for a possible uptick in hospitalizations.

There have been 1,084 total coronavirus recoveries in Travis County as of May 27. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis County reports 73 new coronavirus cases May 27

There have been 1,084 total coronavirus recoveries in Travis County as well.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar spoke to members of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce on May 27 about what the state's post-pandemic economic turnaround might look like. (Screenshot of May 27 virtual luncheon)
Texas comptroller predicts slow, steady economic turnaround post-pandemic

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the state entered the era of the coronavirus in a healthy financial situation, which bodes well for the future as reopening continues, but that Texans are not out of the woods yet.

Traffic on toll roads operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has steadily climbed over the last two months after nosediving in March. (Amy Denney/Community Impact Newspaper)
As economic restrictions loosen, some Central Texas toll roads are beginning to fill up with traffic

Traffic counts on roads operated by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority have consistently climbed since early April.

Nursing facilities across Texas will be able to apply for federal funds to purchase devices to connect residents to friends and family. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces $3.6 million project to connect nursing home residents to families

Gov. Greg Abbott announced May 27 that $3.6 million will be provided to nursing facilities to purchase tablets, webcams and headphones to connect residents with family members.

Amie Gonser will open 620 Art Gallery & Studio in June as a fine art gallery and space for art education classes. (Courtesy Amie Gonser)
IMPACTS ROUNDUP: News on 20 Central Texas businesses and nonprofits

Read about Central Texas business news from Community Impact Newspaper's coverage this week.