My husband, Robert, and I moved to the Lake Travis community in 2005, prior to our children starting school. We researched districts in the area and quickly realized Lake Travis was the Destination District and we wanted to give our children the best opportunities. We have two children who have experienced LT for their entire education and have benefited from this exemplary district. Branagan is currently a sophomore at the University of Oklahoma and Caleb is a junior at LTHS. We couldn’t have chosen a better community and school district for our family.
I am a Director of one of the largest CPA firms in the US. My financial and accounting experience has helped me strategically oversee the financial accountability for the decisions of the board and district. As a fast growth district, it is important that we are being fiscally responsible with our tax payer’s dollars. We must address the phenomenal growth with strategic, measured and educationally focused planning in LTISD.
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We want our kids to receive an education that prepares them to lead exceptional lives and allows all kids to grow to their potential. We cannot address academic excellence by only discussing a second high school and IB programs. We must address academics by meeting EVERYONE where they are and growing them to their potential. That means we provide in person classes and we work to fill the gaps that have been made in our district from COVID-19, virtual learning and from rapid growth. Students come to us from all over the United States and they come from varied academic programs with different curriculums. Closing gaps from moving into a new school district must be addressed, and we must support our teachers as they do this important work.
After long deliberations and with observance of the law, I joined the majority of our board to vote to make masks optional in our district in May 2021. Families should be free to make the choices of masks and vaccines for themselves. Parents best understand their children’s physical and mental health and their opinions should be respected and protected.
Lake Travis is growing rapidly. We continue to be a Destination District and we welcome all our new neighbors. Since I have been on the board, I have helped oversee the successful opening of four new campuses and renovated every other campus. I am focused on ensuring we have the appropriate campuses to ensure academic excellence. While we keep our eye on this prize, it is also very important that we are good stewards of our taxpayer’s money. This means that we build when the data directs the needs, and consider all types of solutions to our fast growth. For the past 15+ years, the board and the district have planned for growth by obtaining land throughout our district and continually looking for additional land for future growth. In addition, for at least the past 8 years we have contracted with PASA to give us the needed information on demographics and growth to make cost efficient choices for our district. This year the community driven bond advisory committee will look at all the needs of the district, and provide an avenue for community input and contributions. As I always have, I promise to thoughtfully consider all recommendations brought to the board. It is important to hear what our community wants while maintaining fiscal responsibility.
We cannot have academic excellence without open schools. We are still learning every day how virtual learning has impacted our kids. We now know that children must learn in stable and positive environments with their teachers. When we learn virtually, our most vulnerable populations suffer the most. Each child needs stability, consistency, and positive experiences to have the ability to meet their potential in academics, and having school in person makes this possible. Locally, our district has been a leader in making sure our students have in school learning. As long as I am a board trustee, I will vote to have kids in school learning.
- 2021 Voter Approved TRE which allowed LTISD to keep $3M not subject to recapture so it stays in our district for our students and staff
- Constructed and opened new campuses – Lake Travis Middle School, West Cypress Elementary School, Bee Cave Middle School, Rough Hollow Elementary School
- Voted Mask Optional and allowed our 2021 seniors and all our students to enjoy the last week of the school year mask optional
Voted to have in school learning in August of 2021
- Installed air purifiers in high-traffic areas on campuses to improve the air quality throughout the district campuses.
- Successfully rezoned our district to level student populations while utilizing existing campuses
- Creation of Lake Travis Police Department to enhance safety in our schools
- Voted to increase bus driver pay to be competitive and retain best staff
- Voted to add social worker and additional counselors across the campus to assist in the mental health of our kids
- Voted to add additional staff, aids, 504 coordinators across the district to better serve our special education population
- Unanimously voted by the board to serve as Vice President of the LTISD School Board 2014-2017
- Unanimously voted by the board to serve as Vice President of the LTISD School Board 2017-2021
- 2018 Voter approved bond for a $253M to build new elementary school and middle school, campus renovations throughout the district, new school buses with safety harnesses
- 2018 Voter Approved TRE which allowed LTISD to keep $2.1M not subject to recapture so it stays in our district for our students and staff
- Consistently voted for staff raises and one time bonuses to recognize and retain the best staff
- Annual District and Campus Improvement Plan Goals and Performance Objectives
- Texas Performance Accountability Rate of A for all years rated – TEA did not rate schools in 2020-2021 due to COVID-19. Performance Reporting compiles data to develop and report meaningful accountability ratings to help Texas public schools meet the educational needs of all students.
- LTISD Strategic Plan – A team of students, staff, parents and community representatives led the way to oversee and guide the strategic planning process, including brainstorming ways to get others involved and designing community outreach opportunities. This group identified pillars that are important to our community that the district can focus on. Ultimately, the District’s strategic plan will articulate our mission and vision, as well as the goals and objectives needed to achieve that vision.
- Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas – Superior Achievement all 9 years while serving as a board member. The state’s school financial accountability rating system, known as the School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST), ensures that Texas public schools are held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices and that they improve these practices. The system is designed to encourage Texas public schools to better manage their financial resources to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes.
- Lake Travis ISD Board of Trustee President 2017- 2021
- Lake Travis ISD Board of Trustee Vice President 2014-2017
- Lake Travis ISD Board of Trustee 2013- current
- DECA Judge at both regional and state level
- Class of 2020 Project Graduation committee
- LTHS PTO Committee – Community Directory 2 years
- LTHS Cheer Booster – Fundraiser Chair 3 years
- LTHS Football Booster – Huddles and Heels Committee
- National Charity League member, Class of 2020 Sponsor 2 years
- National Charity League member, 5 years
- President, Lake Travis Youth Association Cheer Program for 4 years
- Board Member, Lake Travis Youth Association Football Board for 4 years
- Coordinator, Lake Travis Youth Association Soccer League
- Coach and team parent for Lake Travis Youth Association sports
- Class of 2020 Project Graduation committee
Treasurer, Girl Scout Troop Treasurer
- Kardivas Parent to the Lakeway Elementary 5th grade girls
- Member, Lakeway Elementary PTO
- Member, Character Counts Program at Lakeway Elementary 4 years
- Grade Level Coordinator 3 years
Room Parent for 6 years
- Committee Chair, School Supplies 3 years
- Committee Chair, Spirit Wear 3 years
- LWE School Play Committee
- Community Programs Best Club Member, exceeding 100 hours of service hours each year
- Committee Chair, Colin’s Hope Golf Tournament
- Committee Chair, Colin’s Hope Best Day Ever Gala
- Volunteer, Colin’s Hope
Long Range Planning
I am confident most of us moved to Lake Travis because of the educational excellence that LTISD offers. Unlike some of our neighboring districts, we are a fast growth district which means we are adding on average over 500 students each year and we serve every child that moves into our district. Other districts are declining and to maintain their student population, they get to pick and choose which students they allow into their district. Our staff must meet each student where they are educationally, whether they are behind or ahead of their peers. This causes additional challenges for both our students and staff. As a board member, it is important to me that we meet each child where they are and ensure we provide them an individualized education to ensure their successes. The board sets goals and works closely with the administration to monitor where our students are and seek to find solutions to assist our students.
With a district as large as Lake Travis, school safety is critical and takes constant planning and dedication. There have been threats across the US as well as in Lake Travis. As a board member, it is important to me that the district continues to keep the focus on our student and staff’s safety. The district has several safety protocols that are evaluated and updated frequently to meet the ever-changing situations. Communication and education with our families on safety protocols are essential in keeping our students safe. Along with our Lake Travis Police Force, we have agreements with the local municipalities to ensure we are protecting our students and staff. The addition of the police force, the focused training and education of our students and community on safety, and the communications between the students, staff and parents are a few ways we continue to focus on safety on our campuses. It is important to me that we provide a safe and secure environment for all our students and staff.
Recruit & Retain Best Staff:
The role of public education is to educate children. LTISD does this well. We are blessed in the Lake Travis community to have the best teachers and administrators. Our teachers are the heart of our district and we must do all we can to retain them. The past few years have been challenging and hard on our teachers and we need to continue to find solutions to aid and resources to our teachers. We must retain our staff and stay nimble in ways to recruit our future teachers and administrators.
Communication & Community Relations:
I know how important it is to allow our community to have a voice and the opportunity to speak up and be heard. I know how important it is to be transparent and to ensure an open line of communication. Continuing to foster a relationship with our community is important to our student successes. As a board member, I will continue to work with my peers, the administration, and the community to grow and maintain healthy relationships.
Recently the trend in Academic ranking sites is to minimize ACT/SAT and testing achievement in favor of other areas that are determined mostly by publicly submitted surveys. These changes result in lower ranking scores and less reliable data. Lake Travis has not been rated by TEA for the past two years due to the pandemic. Our district has historically had an A rating. Last year TEA understandably allowed an overwhelming 19% of our students to opt out from testing. TEA rankings are what guides our board decisions. We must close gaps and address learning loss while finding ways to offer all our students what they need. The sky’s the limit on what we do for our students to grow them to their potential. I am excited to see how we do this with the whole district in mind.
I look forward to meeting you in the coming weeks and earning your vote for LTISD School Board Trustee, Place 5!