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 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.

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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.
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