Board Highlights: Transfer student program, GPA/Class Rank, salaries & more

Board of Trustees Highlights
An Update from the Eanes ISD Board of Trustees
Superintendent's Report
Dr. Tom Leonard

With one meeting in March and three in April, the Eanes ISD board meetings have been packed with healthy discussion on topics such as transfer students, District goals, a new Transportation/campus dismissal program, the Spanish Immersion program and much more. For a synopsis of the meetings, please read below.

The March 7 meeting included an update on the GPA/Class Rank recommendation and a first look at the student design and re-branding initiative. See below for details.

At the April 4 regular meeting (moved from March 28) the Board was presented reports on the District Improvement Plan, transfer students and the SMART Tag program, which will bring efficiencies in transportation and campus dismissal processes.
See below for details.

The April 11 meeting included an update on 2017-18 enrollment projections and an update on the student design and re-branding initiative. The Board also approved the final GPA/Class Rank recommendation. See below for details.

At the April 25 meeting, the Board approved Tiffany Phelps as the Barton Creek Elementary principal. The Board also saw area comparisons on employee compensation and benefits, along with an update on the latest 2017-18 budget projections. In addition, the Board discussed expanding the Spanish Immersion pilot to Bridge Point Elementary and continued talks on transfer students. See below for more details.

See the full Board agenda packets online.
District to Curtail New Transfer Students at HCMS, WHS
At the April 4 and April 25 meetings, the Board discussed changes to the school district's acceptance of new non-employee out-of-district transfer students due to current and future class sizes as well as other considerations.

For nearly 15 years, Eanes ISD has permitted transfer students as a means to generate additional revenue. Recently, questions about the transfer program have arisen, as the resident population is projected to slowly rise, thus affecting class sizes and facility capacities. Because of these factors and questions, the board asked the administration to revisit the practice of accepting non-employee out-of-district transfers.

After much discussion, at the April 25 meeting, the board decided the district will not accept any new out-of-district transfer applications for the 2017-18 school year at Westlake High School and Hill Country Middle School. Transfer students who currently attend other Eanes ISD schools, if in good standing, will be allowed to continue matriculating through the system. Other schools that have limited capacity and may accept very few, if any, new out-of-district transfer applications in certain grade levels include Cedar Creek and Bridge Point elementary schools.

The board acknowledged the potential financial impact of accepting fewer out-of-district transfer students; however, this new approach will be re-evaluated each year and may be adjusted as enrollments and budgets are determined.

See April 4 presentation.

See April 25 updated presentation.
Tiffany Phelps Named Barton Creek Elementary Principal
After several weeks conducting a thorough search of impressive candidates, the Board approved Ms. Tiffany Phelps as Barton Creek Elementary principal at the April 25 meeting.

Ms. Phelps currently serves as associate principal of Vandegrift High School in Leander ISD, a school which she helped open. She has seven years of administrative leadership and vast experience with professional learning communities, special education, and innovative teaching and learning. She previously was an assistant principal at Vandegrift, and served as a special education teacher and head cheer coach at Lake Travis High School.
Ms. Phelps earned a Master of Arts in Counseling from the University of Texas-San Antonio and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. She holds certifications in Principal (EC-12), School Counselor (EC-12), Special Education (EC-12), and Generalist (EC-4).
image whs Logo
GPA Focus Group Update
At the March 7 and April 11 meetings, the Board had further discussion on the proposed GPA changes.

The GPA focus group's task was to reflect on previous recommendations and identify changes to the current GPA system that would lead to improved academic choices and reduce stress for students. This focus group included members from the original GPA committee, as well as classroom teachers, department heads, a counselor, the WHS principal and parent stakeholders.

After much discussion, the group drafted and the Board approved the following proposal that will go into effect for the Class of 2022, this year's 7th graders:
  1. Change the weighting of Pre-AP and AP courses from a multiplier system (1.1 and 1.2 multipliers, respectively) to a system that adds additional points to the grade earned (+5 points and +10 points, respectively). Additionally, change the weighing category names to avoid confusion. The Pre-AP weighted courses category name will change to Level 1 weighting (+5) and the AP courses category name will change to Level 2 weighting (+10).
  2. Require students to take five (5) non-weighted course credits during high school to be used in the calculation of grade point averages (GPAs) and class rank. A minimum of three of these course credits must be completed prior to the beginning of the senior year.
  3. Establish clear procedures for breaking ties for Valedictorian, Highest Ranking Graduate.
See GPA Focus Group's report
See revised policy
District Priorities & Goals

Following the January Strategic Summit and several board meetings, the District Improvement Plan was adopted at the April 11 meeting. Within the document, priorities focus on continuing to build and implement a Guaranteed Viable Curriculum, foster an instructional environment that promotes innovation, focus on strategic operations and long-range planning, and increase community engagement. The District Improvement Plan details strategies to achieve administrative goals within each of these priorities.

See District Improvement Plan
image smart tag
New Program Helps Transportation, Campus Dismissal Efficiencies
At the April 4 meeting, the Board was presented and approved the Secured Mobility Authorized Ridership Technology (SMART) tag program that will improve student safety, streamline services including transportation and elementary campus dismissal.

tag provides a module in which parents can monitor the location of their child's bus securely. The system can even notify parents when the bus is 10-15 minutes from arriving at their child's bus stop in the morning and afternoon. The Transportation Department will be able to verify accurate ridership, ensure students only board/exit their designated bus and enable the driver to have access to medical emergency information for students on the bus.

With SMART tag's technology, the District is also investigating connecting the technology to a robust campus dismissal program, meal payments and checking out library books. Using the campus dismissal module, p
arents will be able to coordinate elementary campus dismissal preferences electronically, utilizing web-based technology (desktop or mobile) for changes in dismissal plans. Parents will receive more information on the program before the start of next school year.

Students' Re-Branding Initiative Update
At the March 7 and April 11 meetings, a group of Westlake High School graphic arts students presented concepts for a new Eanes ISD logo. The students have been working with MOD Studio and WHS graphic arts teacher Dale Baker to study logo design and present their recommended concepts to the Board.
The District conducted focus groups with staff and community members in April, collecting input on the designs.
Board Discusses Salary & Benefits For 2017-18
Last year's board direction on salaries and benefits was reviewed and discussed at the April 25 meeting to provide background on decisions for 2017-18 salaries and benefits. The Board was also provided a comparison of what area school districts offer.
If a pay increase is not approved, the District's pay comparison will fall to the bottom of the list of area districts for new teachers, and teachers with five years experience. The District would land in the middle of the pack for teachers with 10 years experience, and in the top quartile for teachers with 20 years experience.

Eanes ISD currently contributes $473 per employee for benefits, which ranks the District near the top of the area school districts.
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Bridge Point Elementary Investigates Spanish Immersion Pilot
At the April 25 meeting, the Board gave the nod for Bridge Point Elementary to pursue implementing a Spanish Immersion program for its Kindergartners next fall. The program could be introduced as a pilot depending on parent interest and sufficient kindergarten enrollment. This follows the launch of a Spanish Immersion pilot, Futuro, at Cedar Creek Elementary, which will start the 2017-18 school year with 44 Kindergarten students in the program. Other schools may be added in subsequent years once results from the initial pilot at Cedar Creek and possibly Bridge Point can be evaluated.
WHS DECA Students
The Board recognized the Westlake High School DECA team, as four students advanced to International Competition in the areas of Hospitality & Tourism Professional Selling as well as
Entrepreneurship Promotion Plan.

WRMS Future Engineering Students
West Ridge Middle School's Future City students were recognized for their city of
the future - Sociecity - that won the grand prize at the Future City Competition. The students took first place in the international competition of 42 teams held in Washington D.C.

WHS Visual Arts Students
The Board also recognized the Visual Art Scholastic Event (VASE) students who won at regional competition to advance to compete at the state level. Two students were recognized with American Vision Awards, the top Scholastic honor.

WHS Wrestling

The Board congratulated the Westlake Wrestling team, including senior Jack Skudlarczyk, who became the most successful wrestler from Region IV by winning his third state championship. Senior Anderson Salisbury came in second in his championship match.

The Westlake Boys and Girls Swimming and Diving programs were recognized for finishing as Regional Champs and State runners-up. The boys team won their first relay title in 11 years, and broke eight school records. The girls team fought hard through a close meet, breaking four school records and one state record.

image swim team
WHS Swim Team

Future Meetings
The May special meeting is May 9 (6pm open session), and the regular meeting is May 23 (7pm open session).
Always check for the most up-to-date schedule. To see agenda items, listen to meeting audio, or access board policy, please visit
Eanes ISD Board of Trustees