Temperatures are finally starting to cool down (if ever so slightly), and even though we don’t see too many leaves changing colors around here, fall is upon us, marking a season of change. Change comes from obstacles, opportunities, and accomplishments. I’d like to share some thoughts with you on each of those areas and how they’re present in our Liberty community.
As I’m sure you already know, the past two years have posed unprecedented challenges for our schools. Pandemic-related absences and obstacles dating back to 2020 made learning more difficult than ever. But as Liberty always does, we have innovated, inspired, and proved we can overcome.
Our ability to overcome is evident through data. Coming into this school year, we saw tremendous growth in student reading levels. Compared to last year, the baseline data is about 10% higher for first and second graders who are starting at or above the benchmark reading levels for their grade. What this achievement shows us, is that over the past school year, our wonderful teachers made tremendous strides with these hard-working students despite the obstacles in their way.
While we celebrate that growth, we also recognize the stark reality that attracting and retaining quality teachers has never been more difficult. That is one of the main reasons the Liberty Elementary School District is going out for a 10% Maintenance & Operations budget override this election. All of the funding goes toward educators to provide direct services or programs to students. In this issue, you will read more about the specifics of what the override provides, what happens if it doesn’t pass, and how much it costs the average homeowner.
Change also comes about from listening to people. When the override failed last year, we listened to you about what could be done to make the necessary budget cuts. Part of that discussion included exploring a four-day school week. While this idea alone doesn't provide all of the necessary cost savings, our surveys of families and staff showed initial widespread support, regardless of whether a change in the school week would result in a cost savings. That’s why we formed a working committee to study this further, to be followed by three recent public hearings. All of the ideas and feedback gathered will help guide the Governing Board to make their ultimate decision later this month on a potential four-day week for next year.
We also listened to you about school safety. The tragedy in Uvalde, Texas led to discussions nationwide about making campuses more secure. That’s why Liberty is involved in a Southwest Valley Safety Coalition, composed of school leaders in the area, sharing ideas to make all of our schools safer places to be. Other security changes you’ll see at our schools are new visitor check-in systems and student ID badges.
If you aren’t currently involved with your neighborhood school, we invite you to do so. A more connected community makes for a better community. From crossing guards to classroom helpers, we can always use volunteers. It is our honor and privilege to serve the students and families of this district. Thank you for your continued trust and support.