School Facilities Reflect Curriculum Approach

School Facilities Reflect Curriculum Approach
Posted on 10/06/2016

Last week, my column focused on how Leander ISD is in the enviable position to be able to offer students the high-quality learning environments that our community has come to expect. We are in this blessed situation because we have had past and current Boards of Trustees who put student learning at the heart of their building and construction decisions. We are also thankful to have benefitted from the strong support offered by the community through the passage of bond packages in the past.

Our district's commitment to student learning is the foundation for our promise to offer a verified and viable curriculum, meaning that elementary students across the district receive the same excellent education. The same is true for the instruction we offer at our middle and high schools. While the delivery may differ depending on the teacher, the learning materials we offer are equitable across all grade levels and campuses. To put it plainly, this means that no school in LISD is designed to be “better” than another, because the same instruction, tools and resources are offered at each campus. I have seen this for myself during my campus visits these first few weeks on the job.

LISD schools have similar amenities. Given the fast-growing nature of our district, some campuses and facilities may be newer and thus look different from others, but there are more commonalities among them than there are differences.

As I addressed last week, each school has ample classroom space for our diverse course offerings, as well as top-of-the-line libraries. We provide multiple areas for independent study and small group work. All of our secondary campuses are using mLISD to enhance classroom learning, and all of our elementary schools are exploring new ways to blend technology into instruction, too. Every school has space for physical and fine arts education, and we have great gyms at each secondary campus and three regional stadiums. Elementary, middle and high schools in LISD have well-maintained cafeterias and common areas that meet the needs of our students.

While these campus areas may seem to be standard for any school, again, I say with certainty that not every district in Texas is as fortunate as we are. Without the strategic planning of our past and current Boards and administrations, their commitment to student learning, and their thoughtful study of our community's demographic trends, it would be difficult to adequately provide even these basic school amenities.

Our campuses are intended to be similar and offer many of the same standard areas, but it should be noted that our high schools are each distinct in that they offer specialized programming. Some of our specialized programs include: culinary arts offered at Cedar Park High School and Glenn High School; the International Baccalaureate Programme (IB), the Air Force Junior ROTC program, and the cosmetology program at Leander High School; automotive technology (complete with a fully functioning lift so students can get practical experience in this challenging trade) at Rouse High School; robotics and IB (coming soon) at Vandegrift High School; and the Navy Junior ROTC program at Vista Ridge High School.

No two high schools in LISD offer the exact same specialized programming because they often come at considerable cost due to the particular resources required for each program. It would not be financially feasible for LISD to offer every specialized program at all six of our high schools. We, like many large districts in Texas, have strategically placed these programs in geographical locations to give the greatest number of students' access to each specialized program. We strive to offer all students the opportunity to participate in the program that best suits their skills and interests by allowing students to participate in programs that are not offered at their home campuses.

Through the similarities and differences in our schools, LISD is ensuring that we are leading all students to a bright future.