Back to school brings changes at LISD, VHS hires 48 new staffers

Leander-ISD1By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News

With the hiring of a new superintendent and the opening of a new high school, Leander ISD students will see a number of changes as they head back to school on Aug. 22.

The Leander ISD Board of Trustees recently announced Dan Troxell, Ph.D., superintendent of Kerrville ISD, as the lone finalist for the position of LISD superintendent of schools. The Board of Trustees will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 17, to discuss and take action to approve Troxell’s employment contract, making him an official employee of the district.

Troxell’s first official day will likely be sometime during the second week of school, according to district spokesperson Veronica Sopher. At that point, she said Troxell will begin visiting each of the campuses and getting to know community members.

“There will be numerous opportunities for the community to meet him,” Sopher said. “We’ll start scheduling some community coffees and events.”

The district will also open the doors to its sixth high school, Glenn High School in Leander.

“We are very excited to open our newest high school,” Sopher said.

Sopher said a lot of time and district resources have gone into both the hiring of a new superintendent and the opening of a new high school. With the two big changes, district leaders have been working to ensure that systems are in place and that the district is working efficiently.

VHS welcomes 48 new faculty members

Locally, Vandegrift High School students will be greeted by a number of new teachers and coaches when they return to school.

The school hired 48 new staff members for this school year, a higher number than usual, thanks to the growth in student population and also because a number of teachers and coaches transferred to Glenn High School.

“It is no secret that our staff is what sets us apart from other schools and makes Vandegrift truly exceptional,” said Charlie Little, VHS principal. “This year, we are excited to add 48 new to VHS employees who will bring new energy and perspectives to our campus. I am extremely proud of the quality and passion displayed by each of these new Vipers.”

Several athletic teams will also have new coaches. Those include new tennis coach Daniel White, boys soccer coach Cody Brown, swim coach Genevieve Walsh, and Jen Hardy, head girls soccer coach, becomes the new girls athletic coordinator.

Band students will have a new assistant band director with the hiring of Joseph Hobbs.

“Vandegrift has established itself as a destination high school for both staff and students,” Little said. “As such, I feel we are attracting applicants that are drawn to our school community and share our passion for education.”

With so many new faculty members, Little said his priority will be on maintaining a strong school culture.

“The challenge will be to help foster the strong relationship among staff as we continue to grow,” he said. “The original staff who opened VHS in 2009 bonded over the experience of opening a new school, and we will have to be deliberate and focused on our efforts to continue to build strong relationships with our new team members and students a priority.”

District-wide, Sopher said LISD adds about 1,000 students per year.

“With that growth, you have to build in capacity at your staff level, so we do add new teachers every year,” she said.

She said the number of new teachers this year is consistent with district growth and trends. New teachers begin a week earlier for professional development and to learn more about the LISD culture.

“It’s really exciting to see new teachers join our team,” she said.

VHS begins year as 6A school

Another big change at VHS is that it is now classified as a class 6A for the upcoming 2016-17 school year based on the reclassification and realignment numbers by the University Interscholastic League.

The UIL realigns every two years based on school enrollment numbers. Only the largest high schools in the state, with an enrollment of 2,150 and above, are ranked 6A. VHS’s enrollment is nearly 2,500 students, according to Little. A school’s class determines which teams it will compete against in both athletic and fine arts competitions.

“Any time you play against schools with much larger enrollments, it can be more difficult just because of the volume of students from which their teams are generated,” Leander ISD Athletic Director Lee Bridges told FPN last year. “6A schools will sometimes offer more sub-varsity teams to compete against—Rouse HS went through this problem the last couple of years. There will be C teams, a 3rd squad, in some sports, which will require additional coaches, transportation, etc. This is a good problem and necessary because it means more students are getting to compete. LISD is already moving forward and has a plan in place to adapt to these new challenges for these campuses.”