Dripping Springs ISD trustees talk new committees and task forces at September meeting

Mental Health Task Force chair Wendy Kubenka presents to the board of trustees.

Mental Health Task Force chair Wendy Kubenka presents to the board of trustees.

Drippings Springs ISD trustees heard reports on a range of topics at their meeting Sept. 23, and discussed the implementation of new and proposed committees and task forces.

Bond oversight

Board president Carrie Kroll gave an update on progress with planning and assembling a bond oversight committee to provide feedback and scrutiny for the district’s 2018 construction and future bonds.

At the board’s Sept. 16 workshop meeting, interim Superintendent Nola Wellman presented DSISD trustees with a potential outline for the makeup of such a committee, informed by her previous experience helping to create a bond oversight committee at Eanes ISD.

Based on the proposal distributed Sept. 16, the committee would be composed of nine at-large members, none of whom would be affiliated with the board of trustees. The board would select these members from a pool of applications.

According to the same document, the duties of the bond oversight committee would include:

  • Attending quarterly meetings

  • Making bi-annual presentations to the board of trustees and producing an annual report

  • Reviewing reports on progress and ensuring that work is consistent with activities approved by the voters under the 2018 bond

  • Discussing and voting on recommendations for the board regarding any changes to bond activities

  • Conducting on-site visits to get a first-person look at bond projects

According to Kroll, an official vote on the creation of a bond oversight committee will take place at the board’s October meeting.

Safety and security

Later in the evening, district Safety & Security Manager Curt Marek outlined the composition of the district’s newest Safety & Security committee, which includes the superintendent, several board members, district parents, local public safety officials, medical personnel and others.

Marek also presented plans for the DSISD Safety 2020 Audit Task Force, a group charged with preparing for a safety audit the state performs every three years. The task force is made up of district teachers, coaches, nurses, counselors, custodians, administrators and other staff.

Mental health

Marek said the Safety & Security committee would work closely with the district’s new mental health task force, a group which will include two recently hired licensed social workers, school nurses and counselors and other staff.

More details regarding DSISD’s mental health initiative, which formally began under former superintendent Bruce Gearing in the spring, were presented by Mental Health Task Force chair Wendy Kubenka.

“Last year, there were a couple of high school principles and high school counselors that recognized some concerns and shared those with Dr. Gearing,” Kubenka said.

With Gearing, staff members considered what other districts had done to address the mental health needs of students and provide a “multi-tiered system of support,” according to Kubenka.

Reports from the last school year regarding student mental health events were among the data considered, Kubenka said. Notably, 41 secondary students and 24 elementary students had been given “suicide assessments,” meaning they were referred to counseling staff based on concerns that they might exhibiting symptoms of suicidal ideation.

Thus far, efforts to address mental health have included the hiring of several licensed professional social workers, and initiating the training of all DSISD staff to respond appropriately to student mental health concerns.
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.


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