Dripping Springs ISD sets up bond oversight committee, activates retention incentive

A photo of the Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees.
The Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees met Oct. 30. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees met Oct. 30. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)

The Dripping Springs ISD board of trustees worked through a packed agenda at its Oct. 30 meeting, voting through a number of high-profile measures—most notably, the selection of Todd Washburn, a current associate superintendent of Eanes ISD, as lone finalist for the position of DSISD superintendent.

Bond oversight committee

Other notable votes included the creation of guidelines for a new bond oversight committee. Community members have long requested the creation of such a group to review activities related to the district’s 2018 construction bond; however, some in the community have commented during various public forums that the guidelines put forth by interim Superintendent Nola Wellman do not do enough to ensure the committee will be effective.

“The [committee] is not empowered to have any input on post-bond design. Without a design component, there is no ability to control costs,” community member Martin McConahay said at the Oct. 30 meeting.

McConahay also said he was concerned that the proposed committee would not be subject to the Texas Open Meetings Act. Wellman later responded that as a non-elected group, there was no reason the Texas Open Meetings Act should apply to the committee.

Per the Oct. 30 vote, the bond advisory committee will be composed of nine board-appointed members, who will be chosen from a pool of applications. According to district documents, those individuals may not be employed by the district or immediately related to a board member.

Once appointed, the committee will meet quarterly and present recommendations to the board biannually based on on-site visits, reviews of reports, and progress and scrutiny of any changes to preapproved bond projects.

Retention incentives

Trustees also voted Oct. 30 to activate an employee retention incentive to be paid in November. The payment would entitle qualifying employees to “a lump-sum employee compensation payment of up to $100 per completed year of service with Dripping Springs ISD.”

The retention incentive was originally discussed this spring when teacher salaries were set, although the vote for bonuses was set for November to ensure that enough funding was in place. According to district documents, the bonuses were dependent on increased allotment funding originating from House Bill 3 generating “additional revenues to sufficiently fund this additional employee compensation payment.”

Full-time employees are eligible for the full retention incentive amount, whereas part-time employees are eligible for half.
By Olivia Aldridge

Multi-Platform Journalist

Olivia hosts and produces Community Impact Newspaper's podcasts, The Austin Breakdown, The Houston Breakdown and The DFW Breakdown. She launched the podcasts after nearly three years as a reporter for the newspaper, covering public health, business, development and Travis County government for the Central Austin edition. Olivia worked as a reporter and producer for South Carolina Public Radio before moving to Texas.