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River Place Rapids 2014 recap

The River Place Rapids summer swim team finished up strong with every swimmer achieving personal best times during the season. Additionally, out of 122 swimmers, 39 had qualifying times for the All Star meet in individual events or relays.

“Head coach Clayton Ferguson, with assistants Abigail Brinker and Briana Miller, spent countless hours coaching our kids through one of our best seasons,” said Elisa Verratti, outgoing president of the Rapids.

She said that the favorite part for most swimmers is earning a “heat winner” or “personal best” ribbon at a swim meet. Competing in the All Star meet is also a highlight of the season, along with pep rallies, team parties and parent-coach relays at the meets.

“Our primary goal is to make sure each swimmer has fun while improving their stroke techniques and speed,” Verratti added. Team members are between the ages of 5 and 17.

River Place Rapids 2014

River Place Rapids 2014

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River Ridge 5th graders track journey across the Pacific, student share impressions

By SARAH DOOLITTLE, Four Points News

Starting in April, students in Marlowe Macintyre’s 5th grade class at River Ridge Elementary followed the progress of Matt Rutherford and his fiancee Nicole “Nikki” Trenhorn on their non-stop voyage across the Pacific.

The students tracked the journey as a means of learning more about ocean ecosystems and the impact of microplastics or small particles from degraded plastic products on the world’s oceans.

Macintyre is not just a teacher trying to expose her students to science. She is also Matt’s mother. And no one is more impressed ​—​ or emotionally invested ​—​ in Matt’s many journeys.

Matt Rutherford and Nicole Trenhorn on the boat they hope to sail non-stop across the Pacific. The pair is currently more than half-way to Japan.  Photo by Laura Schneider.

Matt Rutherford and Nicole Trenhorn on the boat they hope to sail non-stop across the Pacific. The pair is currently more than half-way to Japan. Photo by Laura Schneider.

Matt and Nikki started their trek in San Francisco on April 27. Due to the Pacific hurricane season, they needed to finish their voyage by early July, when they delivered their boat, a Harbor 29 on loan from manufacturer WD Schock, to a dealer in Japan.

They arrived in Japan on July 2, fighting strong winds and dangerous currents from an approaching storm. A problem they did not anticipate after 63 days alone at sea. “We had not seen another boat for 6 weeks and now we were completely surrounded by freighters. There must have been 50 of them going every which way,” wrote Matt in his blog.

The dangers were worth it for the ambitious goal the pair set out to accomplish: to be the first to sail continuously across the Pacific while dragging a net to collect ocean microplastics, especially from the North Pacific Gyre. Their samples will help to determine the volume of plastics in the gyre as well as what amount is displaced by trade winds. Continue reading

LISD’s cost per student tops $7,000

Leander-ISD1By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News

Leander ISD spent more than $7,000 per student last year, a number that fluctuates each year in the fast-growth district.

With more than 1,000 new students per year enrolling in the LISD, budget planning can often be a challenge.

“It’s always challenging when you’re budget planning in a fast-growth district because you know families are coming in and the need for additional resources such as teachers are going to impact your expenses,” said LISD spokesperson Veronica Sopher.

She said 86 percent of the district’s annual budget goes toward personnel costs.

The district currently spends $7,081 per student, according to LISD Superintendent Bret Champion. Enrollment in the 2013-2014 school year topped 35,000.

Source: Leander ISD

Source: Leander ISD

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Jollyville salamander studies await access for FP Traffic Committee’s Road to Vandegrift project

By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News

Jollyville Plateau Salamander  Credit: City of Austin

Jollyville Plateau Salamander    Credit: City of Austin

The Four Points Traffic Committee’s Road to Vandegrift campaign has hit a roadblock as it awaits access to do studies of the Jollyville Plateau salamander, which was recently placed on the extinction list.

Representatives from Leander ISD and Four Points Traffic Committee met with officials from the Texas Department of Transportation on June 24 to discuss plans for the proposed new road to Vandegrift High School.

Pam Waggoner, LISD School Board President and Four Points Traffic Committee founder, said the proposed improvements would make a big difference for those traveling in Four Points but there is still plenty of opposition for the new road.

537“We suspect that opposition will come from a variety of people involved in different ways with the Balcones Plan,” Waggoner said. “We believe that their main concern is to avoid creating a precedent for future uses within infrastructure corridors. There will also be concern given the proximity to the recently listed Jollyville Plateau salamander.”

She said LISD officials still need permission from Travis County to access the property to do studies on the Jollyville salamander since it was put on the extinction list after the Four Points Traffic Committee began their campaign.

The red line represents the proposed Road to Vandegrift on this Texas Department of Transportation map.

The red line represents the proposed Road to Vandegrift on this Texas Department of Transportation map.

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