The latest news from Dripping Springs ISD

Week of October 4, 2021

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National Merit Commended Scholars

The Dripping Springs High School senior class was well-represented on the list of Commended Scholars in the 67th annual National Merit Scholarship program. Commended Scholars are among the 50,000 high scorers of more than 1.5 million students nationally who took the PSAT/NMSQT. Approximately 34,000 Commended Scholars are being recognized nationwide.

The 13 Commended Scholars from Dripping Springs High School are: Ainsley Ballard, Carys Blackmon, Karsten Bobb, Collin Boes, Kalea Caldwell, Grant Clarno, Dominic Gearing, Daniel Hearne, Aidan Johannsen, Teagan Krewson, Kenneth Melton, Joseph Parsons, and Matthew Patrick.

Previously it was announced that DSHS senior James Mihic is a National Merit Semifinalist.


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Dripping Springs ISD is fortunate to have eight dedicated individuals leading each of our campuses.

Kellie Raymond, Cypress Springs Elementary: Ms. Raymond has been a part of the DSISD family since 2006. She previously served six years as the Dripping Springs Elementary principal and six years as an assistant principal at Walnut Springs Elementary.

Jamie Eubanks, Dripping Springs Elementary: Ms. Eubanks is in her fifth year at DSISD, serving her first year as DSE principal following four years as the school's assistant principal.

Steve Novickas, Rooster Springs Elementary: Mr. Novickas is in his fifth year at DSISD and third year as the principal at RSE. He previously served two years as an assistant principal at Sycamore Springs Middle School.

Kirsten Bloomfield, Sycamore Springs Elementary: Ms. Bloomfield joined DSISD as the SSE principal in June of 2021 after serving five years as the principal for Iron Horse Elementary in Colorado.

Melinda Gardner, Walnut Springs Elementary: Ms. Gardner is in her third year as the WSE principal. Previously, she served four years as principal for Lost Pines Elementary in Bastrop.

Jason Certain, Dripping Springs Middle School: Mr. Certain joined DSISD in 2016 as the DSMS principal. Prior to DSMS, he spent five years as the principal for Carpenter Hill Elementary in Buda.

Dan Diehl, Sycamore Springs Middle School: Mr. Diehl is in his fifth year at DSISD as the SSMS principal. He spent eight years as principal at Bedichek Middle School in Austin before opening SSMS in 2017.

Angela Gamez, Dripping Springs High School: Ms. Gamez joined DSISD in 2015 and is in her third year as the DSHS principal. Previously she served three years as an assistant principal at DSHS.

DSISD Receives Superior FIRST Rating

In final ratings from the Texas Education Agency, Dripping Springs ISD received the highest rating of “Superior,” a letter grade “A”, and a numerical score of 98/100 on the 2019-20 Texas FIRST (Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas) report.

The rating is based on 15 indicators that include results of the annual external audit, debt management, fund balance, and administrative cost ratio, among other financial indicators. The Schools FIRST accountability rating system uses ratings of “A-Superior,” "B-Above Standard", “C-Meets Standard,” or “F-Substandard Achievement.” This recent designation is based on financial information from the 2019-20 fiscal year.

The FIRST rating, which has been issued for the past 19 years, measures the quality of school districts’ financial management and reporting. The report ensures that Texas public schools are held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices and that they improve those practices. The system is designed to encourage Texas public schools to better manage their financial resources to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes. Dripping Springs ISD has received a Superior Rating every year since the FIRST system’s inception.

The report and public hearing, which includes an opportunity for public comment, will be presented by DSISD Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Catherine Knepp at the DSISD Board of Trustees meeting on Oct. 25, 2021. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the auditorium at Dripping Springs High School. The FIRST hearing will occur early in the agenda.

Long-Range Facility Planning Resumes

The Long-Range Facility Planning Committee (LRFPC) reconvened for its first meeting of the 2021-22 school year on Oct. 5. The committee is tasked with considering important decisions to ensure that Dripping Springs ISD continues to serve all students with a personal and exceptional education over the next 5-10 years. A video recording of the meeting can be found at

Superintendent Dr. Holly Morris-Kuentz welcomed the committee and introduced Scott Leopold and David Sturtz of Cooperative Strategies. Following an introduction of committee members, Mr. Leopold summarized the process and outcomes from the LRFPC meetings held during the 2019-20 school year, as well as the purpose of the current committee.

A large portion of the meeting was devoted to a discussion about middle school facilities. Mr. Leopold presented pros and cons of middle schools in the 850-student range compared with those of a 1,200-student campus. Current conditions regarding school enrollment and capacities were provided, as well as projected enrollment numbers from the district’s demographer. Options that are available to DSISD to serve middle school students in future years were introduced. Committee members then separated into smaller groups for further discussion, before reporting back to the large group. Members were surveyed on their preferred capacity for middle schools and high schools both before and after the middle school discussion. Results from a similar survey from the May 2020 LRFPC meeting also were shared.

Mr. Leopold mentioned that representatives from Cooperative Strategies and the district recently met with staff from Sycamore Springs Middle School and Sycamore Springs Elementary to discuss potential temporary and long-term solutions to growth at that campus.

The next Long-Range Facility Planning Committee meeting will be held Tuesday, Oct. 19, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the Dripping Springs High School cafeteria. The final LRFPC meeting is set for Thursday, Nov. 18, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. in the DSHS cafeteria. Members of the public may attend and observe the meetings. Opportunities for community input to help the committee make a recommendation will be provided at a later date.


Dripping Springs ISD has entered into a partnership with Hungry Souls, an Austin-based non-profit that works with schools to provide weekend and school break meals for students and their families.

Working through DSISD school counselors and school nurses, district families in need will be identified and connected with Hungry Souls, which will provide both perishable and non-perishable food items, menus and recipes, and a crock pot. In addition to assisting families on weekends, additional resources will be provided over Thanksgiving Week, Winter Break, and Spring Break.

The MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that was approved at the Sept. 27 Board of Trustees meeting will remain in place through the 2021-22 school year.


2018 Bond Projects Update - October 2021
Tiger Tracks - SSE Garden


Dripping Springs ISD is always looking to add to our Tiger Team! For some hard-to-fill positions, a hiring incentive, job training and flexible schedules are offered. Currently, DSISD has several openings for custodians, bus drivers, teacher aides, child nutrition staff, and Kids Club after-school staff and student workers. For more information about joining the DSISD team, visit To see job postings, click here.