AUSTIN (KXAN) — School is back in session for Lake Travis Independent School District and KXAN sat down with Superintendent Paul Norton to talk about the upcoming year.

School safety and filling vacancies are a top priority for the district.

Last year, some bus routes had to be canceled because of a lack of bus drivers, but this year they have increased pay and hired 15 new drivers.

Q&A with Lake Travis ISD Superintendent Paul Norton

Nabil Remadna: What are your goals for the school district this year?

Norton: “There are a lot of things that are on people’s minds when it comes to education. And now after this last legislative session, there is a lot that has changed, but still our number one priority is student safety. When you look at student safety, that has been a hot topic since Uvalde. We are very fortunate we have our own police department. We started a police department in 2021. This past school year, we had seven officers, including our police chief and our goal this year is to double that and get to 14 officers. That way we have an officer on every campus and it gives us multiple officers at the high school. As of right now, we have all but two of those positions filled. We are very fortunate that we have been able to hire good, quality police officers. I know a lot of people are struggling with that aspect. Student safety has always been a number one priority and goal for our school district as well as student growth and academic growth. We have a new accountability system we have been dealing with in the state of Texas this year so we have some of that data now. We don’t have the accountability ratings yet, we won’t have that until September, but a major focus is continued student growth across the district on an individual level and making sure we are providing programs and opportunities for our students to be successful academically and socially and a lot of that starts with that safety aspect. If students don’t feel safe and our staff don’t feel safe then that impacts our student learning and that impacts the current school year.”

Nabil: School districts across Central Texas have had issues with teachers and staffing vacancies, what are you dealing with in Lake Travis ISD and how have you addressed those issues?

Norton: “We are in very good shape, we are at 99% capacity with all of our teaching positions. We have a couple of teaching positions left and a couple of those are in special education, which has always been a hot topic, not just here, but everywhere across the state. We have a couple of those positions filled. We are very fortunate that we have hired a few more bus drivers than we had last year, so we are able to provide transportation each day to everybody in our district outside the two-mile radius. We are excited about that. We are continuing to hire bus drivers hoping to continue to push in that area. As far as our food service, we have more staff in food service. We have two cafeterias at our high school. Both will be open. The last couple of years only one has been open. Then, our maintenance team we have been able to hire some more maintenance staff in our district. So, we are getting closer back to pre-COVID numbers across the board, but very excited for teaching staff that we are right at 99% capacity and we are in a very good position to start the school year.”