ACC San Gabriel 1

ACC San Gabriel welcomes its first students

Published by Community Impact Newspaper Nov. 21.

Less than two months into its first fall semester, Austin Community College’s San Gabriel campus had 893 students, according to ACC data.

After beginning construction in 2016 the community college district’s newest campus opened in Leander in May and welcomed its first students during the fall semester. The San Gabriel campus—located in the city’s transit-oriented development district, or TOD—was funded by 2014 voter-approved bonds totaling $60 million.

“The campus is intended to help expand educational services to this part of the district and help relieve overcrowding at other campuses,” ACC spokesperson Jessica Vess said.

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oak creek

Leander council questions public improvement districts

Published by Community Impact Newspaper Oct. 16.

Jesse Wells said that when he bought a home in one of Leander’s public improvement districts, or PIDs, he was unaware of the costs.

“[The developer and Realtor] are doing a woefully poor job of communicating that PID cost to the point where it really wasn’t described to us as a buyer until two weeks before closing,” Wells said at a City Council meeting Aug. 16. “Two weeks before closing, it’s too late for anything.”

PIDs are a tool for developers to finance or reimburse the cost of public improvements, such as landscaping, sidewalks, roads, artwork, water facilities and more, according to Texas Local Government Code.

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Leander ISD students substitute tests, opt out of STAAR end-of-course exams

Published by Community Impact Newspaper Sept. 11.

This spring thousands of Leander ISD middle and high school students opted out of taking the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness end-of-course tests, or STAAR EOC, in algebra I and English I.

STAAR EOCs are typically taken as a student is completing the subject either in middle or high school depending on when the student is enrolled in the course, according to Texas Education Agency documents. The large number of opt-outs in algebra I and English I occurred in part because PSAT scores from eighth- and ninth- graders were permitted to be used as substitute assessments for the STAAR EOC in 2017-18, said Brenda Cruz, LISD director of assessment and accountability.

Standardized test scores—such as those from the PSAT, SAT or ACT—that meet a certain threshold may be used as substitutes for the STAAR EOCs, as allowed by the Texas Administrative Code. Students are permitted to use substitute assessments for a variety of STAAR EOC subjects, including algebra, biology, English and U.S. history, according to the TEA.

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Leander ISD works to bolster safety practices with bond projects, local partnerships

Published by Community Impact Newspaper Sept. 18.

As Leander ISD dives into the new school year, district personnel are working to improve emergency preparedness on campus.

Brad Mansfield, senior executive director of student services for LISD, said the district wants to ensure the training for emergency situations is consistent across schools.

“We found in talking with students across the district that not all of them knew what do in a lockdown,” Mansfield said.

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Agricultural trends in Leander and other articles

Published by Community Impact Newspaper on Aug. 22.

Frank Stiles is a fourth-generation Leander resident and veterinarian at the South San Gabriel Animal Clinic. When he first began his practice in 1986, around half of his patients were horses, cows, goats and sheep, he said. Now, he estimates around 98 percent of his job is serving small animals.

“Most of the farmland [and] most of the cows are gone now,” Stiles said.

In addition to beef cattle and other livestock, he said the Leander area used to see a lot of cotton production with three cotton gins in the area. The gins closed by the 1960s, he said.

“There’s maybe a future for [agriculture in Leander] for small plots for farmers markets, but I believe that’s all,” Stiles said. “It’s changed it in some ways for the better and some ways for the worse.”

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The story behind the story

Bee Keeper Abby.JPG

I wore this beekeeper shirt/mask (but did no beekeeping) to take photos!

Other highlights

Recently, I’ve also written about:

We’re wrapping up our public education edition now, so stay tuned for more school news!

Northline rendering

$15M in city funding allocated for Northline project in Leander

Published by Community Impact Newspaper on July 17.

A project planned for Leander could bring an urban town center with walkable shopping, dining and housing to the city over the next decade.

After months of workshop meetings and discussion about the project, Leander City Council approved up to $15 million in funding in June for the creation of infrastructure in the development, which is called Northline.

The proposed mixed-use project is in Leander’s transit-oriented development, or TOD, district. The TOD district was created to encourage pedestrian-friendly growth and includes projects such as Austin Community College’s San Gabriel campus, St. David’s Emergency Center and Capital Metro’s Leander Station.

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Leander ISD expands two-way dual-language program to new schools as demand rises

Published by Community Impact Newspaper on May 24.

In the 2018-19 academic year, Leander ISD will be adding two more elementary schools to its two-way dual-language program.

Knowles and Bagdad elementaries will join Whitestone and Reed elementaries in offering the program. LISD began offering dual-language services in 2009 for students who qualified for bilingual education services, said Tina Dozier, LISD English Language Learners director.

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