Kathy Rollo was officially approved as Lubbock Independent School District’s new superintendent, effective Feb. 1 at a meeting of the LISD Board of Trustees on Thursday morning.
She was approved as the district’s lone finalist for the position on Dec. 18, but the state requires a 21-day waiting period before officially naming a superintendent.
The board also had to decide how to handle current Superintendent Berhl Robertson Jr.’s contract. He gave notice in October of his intent to retire in June, in order to give the board time to find a replacement.
Just a few minutes short of one hour in closed session, the board came out to vote to approve a retirement agreement with Robertson which will allow him to continue working for the district through June 30.
“I think this is a really smart move by the board,” Robertson said. “It gives her (Rollo) a chance to have about four months in the spring to go through the budgeting process and personnel, and see all the things that happen. I think it’ll give her a leg up when she (has) her first full school year.”
Vinson told Robertson that the board appreciates his willingness to remain available as a resource during the four-month period.
“I think this is a best of both worlds scenario for our district. I think this is relatively uncommon. So I think we’re in great shape,” Vinson said.
The board unanimously approved first Robertson’s retirement agreement and then Rollo’s official hire as superintendent.
Rollo was not present at the meeting.
Vinson also announced that the board’s next meeting will be Jan. 25, and later that afternoon, the district will celebrate Robertson’s retirement with a reception, probably from 4-6 p.m.
“I want to make sure everyone, district-wide and community-wide, knows about that, and invite everyone to come,” Vinson said.
After the meeting, Board President Laura Vinson said Robertson will continue at the district as special assistant to the superintendent. He will retain his salary and all other provisions of his current contract will remain in place, she said. He will not be officing at central office, but will be available on call as needed and in a lot of scheduled meetings with Rollo to work through a transition process, Vinson said.
“You can’t have two superintendents,” Vinson said. “We are so fortunate to have this scenario in place. It’s going to be the best thing for our students and our teachers and our campuses to make this the smoothest transition we can have.”
Board members also heard a report from Anna Jackson, executive director of leadership and professional development, on the school calendar. Voting closed this week on three options in an online survey for next year’s school calendar.
Many things are the same among the three calendars: The last day is May 24, the holidays are the same and the staff is required to be on the job for 187 days.
The biggest difference among the calendars is the start date: Option A begins Aug. 15, Option B begins Aug. 20, and Option C begins Aug. 16. Additionally, Option A creates a professional development day on Jan. 7 after the Christmas holiday, giving students another day off, while the other two options have students back in class on Jan. 7.
Students and parents voted overwhelmingly for Option B on the survey, Jackson said. That option has students in school for 78,200 minutes, or 170 days, while options A and C have students in school for 79,120 minutes, or 172 days. All three options allow for more minutes than the 75,600 required by the state.
“We’re excited that we’ll have more time with our students,” Jackson said.
Because the district approved a plan to become a District of Innovation in December, it can set a start date before the fourth Monday in August. Jackson said this is nice because with an earlier start date, the number of days within each six-week period are more evenly distributed.
Trustee James Arnold said he loves professional development, but said he would like to see less of it at times around other holidays. Specifically, he said he does not like options for professional development on Sept. 10, one week after Labor Day, and on Dec. 10, two weeks before Christmas break.
“We don’t need those professional development days in my opinion,” Arnold said. He said teachers have told him those days are not needed.
Jackson said the district would like to have a day of professional development for teachers during the fifth week of each six-week period in order to use data to plan for the next six-week period. She said 98 percent of teachers feel those professional development days are effective.
Robertson told the board they can do what they want, but he said just 2 percent of the staff believe the days are ineffective.
“If we’re going to effectively plan for the next six weeks, you’re not giving it a fair shot,” Robertson said.
The board will not take action on the school calendar until its Jan. 25 meeting.