Coach Vance

At its September meeting, the Liberty Hill ISD Board of Trustees approved naming the football field at Liberty Hill High School “Jerry Vance Field at Panther Stadium,” in honor of the Panthers' former head coach and athletic director.

Following the street running in front of the fieldhouse on the campus of Liberty Hill High School being named “Jeff Walker Way” last month, another Panthers gridiron legend has been honored, as the Liberty Hill ISD Board of Trustees on Monday unanimously approved the naming of the school's football field to “Jerry Vance Field at Panther Stadium”. 

Vance led Liberty Hill for 16 seasons from 2001 through 2016, compiling a 155-46 record, including a pair of state championships in 2006 and 2007 and in the process built the Panthers program into the powerhouse it is today.

However, despite his accomplishments and the massive impact he had on the entire community, Vance was still taken aback by the announcement.

“I was completely taken by surprise – we had no idea it was even being considered,” Vance told The Independent on Tuesday. “I'm most appreciative of the school board – this is an honor many people don't get until they've passed away. But, now I get a chance to enjoy it.”

Full coverage of the tribute will be featured in the October issue of the Liberty Hill Independent Monthly.

Student performance

Assistant Superintendent Todd Washburn briefed the Board Monday concerning the district's recent student performance with a presentation outlining the details of the Texas Education Agency's criteria for rating districts across the state.

Liberty Hill ISD received an overall rating of 88, which equates to a “B.”

The rating is a combination of scores from three different categories – student achievement (91), school progress (82) and closing the gaps (81).

Trustee Kathy Major, a retired school principal, was encouraged by the results, but voiced concerns over maintaining vigilance to ensure improvement continues.

“We can use this data as a baseline,” she said. “But, what we really need are quarterly reports to monitor progress – the public needs to hear good stories.”

Superintendent Steve Snell said in order for district performance to continue on an upward trend, those on the front lines of education must receive everything they need to do their jobs effectively.

“All teachers have time for is teaching,” he said. “All of this will only be effective if we give them the right support because nothing is more effective than a great teacher.”

Action items

In addition to the renaming of the football field at the high school in honor of Vance, the Board also approved the naming on the district's sixth elementary school “Bar W Elementary” – which is where the school is located.

The Board also approved the purchase of 30 additional instruments for the district's band programs at a cost of $109,530, along with the purchase of 238 Tier I radios that will allow for comprehensive campus-to-campus communication across the entire district at a cost of $209,654 from the 2021 bond funds.

Last on the evening's agenda was a fee increase for architectural design services provided by Huckabee, the district's architectural firm. Projects at Liberty Hill Elementary and Louine Noble Elementary were originally approved by the Board at a combined cost of approximately $1.6 million, and the contract called for Huckabee to receive a fee of 7.5 percent of the cost of the project.

However, due to inflation, along with mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) design errors, the scope of the work changed, which required redesign, increasing the fees to approximately $2.7 million in all, Huckabee representatives said.

LHISD Director of Construction Dustin Akin was joined by Huckabee representative Mike Boyle, who engaged in conversation with the Board over the cost increase.

At the heart of the matter is exactly who is responsible for the design flaws that led to the increase – a topic of conversation the Board will get to the bottom of, said Snell.

“We're very aware of our responsibilities to the taxpayers and want them to know we will investigate this matter with due diligence,” he said. “One thing we didn't want to do is shortchange these projects because we realize the importance of creating equity between the older schools and the new ones.”

The Board tabled the issue and will revisit it once the investigation has been completed.

“We're looking out for what's best for Liberty Hill and the taxpayers,” said Snell. “We're upset with a few things and we want the community to know we will hold people accountable.”