The August meeting of the Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees was the first board meeting with new Interim Superintendent Nola Wellman in attendance. Wellman was appointed Aug. 19 as the temporary replacement for departing superintendent Bruce Gearing, whose service to the district officially concludes at the end of the month. The Aug. 26 meeting briefed newcomer Wellman on several key DSISD topics, including progress on projects of the district’s 2018 construction bond.

Design for new elementary school begins

Doug Koehne, an architect from Corgan, a firm associated with several of DSISD’s bond projects, presented updates on plans for a fifth elementary school for the district, to be built at a 155-acre property on Darden Hill Road near the intersection with Sawyer Ranch Road. Design is ongoing for this facility, and community members will have an opportunity to provide feedback on potential schematic designs at a meeting Aug. 28, with additional opportunities to submit online feedback as well.

Board considers bond oversight committee

During the meeting’s public forum, several community members spoke in support of the creation of a bond oversight committee, which would be appointed to monitor activities associated with the 2018 bond as well as future bonds.

District parent Christin Hearn said the district needs “a robust advisory committee that has teeth,” and that members should include individuals willing to ask the board tough questions.

Another speaker, Jim Misko, also spoke in support of a bond oversight committee, but said he trusted the board to lead the way in the assembly of such a group.

The creation of a bond oversight committee has been listed as an agenda item for past meetings, but has been tabled for further consideration. No action was taken approving the creation of a committee at the Aug. 26 meeting; however, Board President Carrie Kroll did address the delay, saying that Gearing’s departure had slowed down the process, as he had been leading the way on research.

Wellman, who in the past served as superintendent for Eanes ISD, said she has experience assisting a school board in the creation of a bond oversight committee, which has taught her that the process takes time.

“I think it will take a couple of months to work out the membership and operating procedures and how that might play out in some different scenarios,” Wellman said. “It will take more time than I think the board at Eanes thought it would.”

A new tax rate is official

In one of the later actions of the night, the board voted to approve the adoption of the new Fiscal Year 2019-20 property tax rate. The board’s unanimous decision made official the rate of $1.4183 per $100 of valuation, with $1.0683 for maintenance and operations and $0.3500 for an interest and sinking fund, for the 2019-2020 school year.

Last school year’s tax rate came in at $1.52 per $100 of valuation.