After 15 years on the Lewisville Independent School District’s Board of Trustees, five of those years as President, Carol Kyer of Flower Mound knows something about the administrative functions involved in education.
Presiding over a seven-member board, which makes numerous decisions affecting the 53,000 students and 6000 employees, of whom 3000 are teachers, is no job for a neophyte. Moreover, the district encompasses 41 elementary schools, 15 middle schools, five high schools, two 9th grade campuses (opening this fall), and six additional campuses that include the Dale Jackson Career Center and the Lewisville Learning Center among others.
Part of the board’s responsibilities is the hiring and firing of the Superintendent, and deciding on the tax rate. Although the board approves teachers, the Superintendent does the hiring. A term on the school board is of three years duration, and there are no term limits. The board meets monthly at 7 p.m. in the William T. Bolin Administrative Center, 1565 W. Main St., Lewisville.
After spending some time discussing education in general and the operation of the school system in particular, I was extremely impressed with the encyclopedic knowledge Ms. Kyer demonstrated. Without hesitation she was able to rattle off policy statements, population numbers, budgetary figures, new projects, etc. Incidentally, LISD’s current budget is $485 million, and has $141 million in reserve. Additionally, she spoke about the school breakfast and lunch program which consists of healthy, low-sugar foods that include grains, meat (or meat alternative), fruit and/or juice and milk (low-fat of course).
About 30% of students are on “free reduced” lunches. These Title One (federal funds for students from low income families) campuses get extra funds to supply breakfast and lunches for students that cannot afford them. There is also a program providing 16 items of food for lower income children during the weekends. Those food items are mainly the most nutritious non-perishables, with few chemical additives.
When I asked about the iPad program she said it was going well. My concern was that students would have too much diversion with such a powerful, far-reaching device to use as a recreational, rather than an educational tool. Ms. Kyer put that apprehension to rest. “Teachers don’t sit behind desks anymore,” she said. “In fact, if administration came by a class and found a teacher sitting at a desk, he or she would have to explain why. Our teachers work all around the room as facilitators with the students.” She also made it clear that only certain applications are available on the iPads, limiting access to areas that would distract the students.
Ms. Kyer also commented about a video program that can be accessed on a Google drive by parents who want to see the progress their children are making. For example, a video is made of a student reading aloud in the early part of the semester. Later in the term, another video is made, which, when shown to the parents and student, gives them an idea of how much advancement has been made.
It was obvious that Ms. Kyer takes particular pride in talking about the two 9th grade campuses that will be opening on site this fall for Flower Mound and Marcus students. “It will look like small college campuses,” she said with palpable satisfaction in her voice. “The teachers and students are excited because the new buildings will be beautiful, the parking will be more than ample, and the projects are expected to finish on time,” she added with a bright smile. I asked her what the difference is between private and public charter schools. She said the former is available to parents who agree to pay the fees involved, while the latter receives some funds from the public system. It’s also important to note that schools are required to accept any student that applies for an education. Their immigration status does not enter into the decision, nor does any criminal background in the family of the student.
“Every child has a right to an education,” Ms. Kyer said. “It’s not fair to judge them by something their family may have done.” I couldn’t agree more, and it’s comforting to hear that sentiment from the leaders in our school system. There is so much more to write about this venerable member of our community, but my verbosity is constrained by word limits. Suffice to say that I greatly admire her devotion to the children of LISD.
Ms. Kyer, and the other six board members, spend a good deal of time in the pursuit of prudent educational policies that have a profound impact on all of us. They bring a wealth of talent and experience to a non-salaried position that few people could, or would, be able to handle. More info can be obtained at: www.lisd.net. Carol Kyer is running for her sixth term in the May 10, 2014 election.
Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.