At its regular meeting Monday Oct. 15, the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees discussed the future of school safety projects and how rezoning will be presented to the public.
During informational items, chief schools officer Joseph Coburn outlined the tasks and conclusions of the School Safety Task Force. The task force, comprised of parents, staff members, high school students and local police forces, met four times since September to discuss how they felt about school safety measures. School safety became a point of acute national anxiety at the end of last school year following two mass shootings in Parkland County, Florida and Santa Fe, Texas. There were also multiple Twitter-based scares late last school year that LISD schools might become the scene of a major shooting.
After the Santa Fe shooting, Gov. Greg Abbott strongly encouraged schools adopt material defenses, including a school marshal program that would allow some teachers to carry firearms, installing metal detectors and closing off extra ways in and out of campuses.
Coburn and task force members spoke about the process and findings of the task force. The task force was broken down into groups that each included at least one student, parent, LISD official, mental health professional and law enforcement professional, and then each group was asked to score several proposed measures in terms of their desirability.
Some of the highest scoring measures were mental health training for all staff, ID badges for students, overnight security monitoring and active shooter training for all staff members. Engaging in the school marshal program, installing metal detectors and mandating the use of clear plastic backpacks were all among the lowest-scoring options.
Coburn said the task force’s findings would inform several staff proposals in the coming months.
Later in the meeting, Coburn discussed the choice to present only one option each for rezoning related to the impending closure of Hedrick and College Street elementary schools. The district released draft maps to the public two weeks ago. The Lewisville Texan Journal is currently pursuing several draft maps of how Hedrick students could be rezoned that were not presented to the public.
Coburn said the more staff discussed it, the more it became clear that selecting one map and clarifying that to the public would be the best option.
“One of the things that we kept coming back to is how complicated the boundary process really is,” he said. “The more we discussed trying to bring more than one option to the community to gather their input and feedback, and also be able to educate and inform, the more we saw that would be difficult, which is why administration is recommending at this point to move one map forward for each of these two projects for the community to learn more about and be able to give their input and feedback on.”
The Board of Trustees will host three separate meetings this Saturday Oct. 20 for input on these maps, scheduled for 10 a.m. at Hedrick Elementary, 1 p.m. at Lewisville Elementary and 3 p.m. at Central Elementary. There will be more informational meetings in subsequent evenings — details are on LISD’s district map website.
The board also deliberated for more than 20 minutes on what to name the new elementary school on Mill Street, which will replace College Street Elementary. The school had been referred to informally as Mill Street Elementary going all the way back to its first proposal in the 2017 bond package. The recommendation from board members Katherine Sells, Tracy Scott Miller and Allison Lassahn was to simply make that name official, saying that nothing else made as much sense, but the rest of the board was resistant to the idea.
Sells, Miller and Lassahn said no other name incorporated the history of the area as much as Mill Street, which is one of the key streets that defined Lewisville going back to when it was still developing. They said other prominent options like Legacy Elementary and Old Town Elementary were either less specific or less evocative. Board members Kristi Hassett and Jenny Proznik wanted to hear more from the surrounding community, saying that asking only the teachers and staff wasn’t enough.
Miller said he thought the staff represented that community.
“This is a 30-50 year decision, right?” Miller said. “I really think that unless the teachers and staff and [College Street Principal Susan] Mrs. Heintzman had a problem with ‘Mill Street,’ they really do kind of represent in many cases our community.”
The board took no action on this item, and discussion will continue on the school’s name.
The district also heard its annual update from the Health Advisory Council. Council members said that in the past year, they had reviewed and recommended updates for the human sexuality curriculum, including a new fifth grade video and an updated seventh grade course. They also discussed the spread of hydration stations throughout LISD schools, and making sure that students had snacks available throughout the day.
On its consent agenda, the board approved several items related to allowing students from grades 6-12 to earn grade-level credit by examination and membership for six newly opened positions on the school health advisory council.