Trustees blast plans to disband board

August 2, 2008 8:18:42 PM PDT
For the first time since a scathing letter from the Texas Education Agency, we're hearing from the North Forest Independent School District board, a board which will be disbanded, if the TEA has its way. Today, Eyewitness News heard calls for unity, and some solutions from that school board.

"I respectfully dispute Commissioner Scott's decision that I should be banished from the board," said NFISD Board Member Dr. Silvia Brooks Williams.

It's one of several appeals the North Forest School District board wants a Texas Education Association agency committee to answer.

"The present board of trustees are the best that North Forest Independent School District have had in many years," said NFISD board member Dr. Tobie Ross.

However, earlier this week, State Commissioner of Education Robert Scott announced the current board would be replaced with a board of managers, a three member board chosen by TEA. It comes as the district celebrates significant improvements in test scores at some of it schools but also faces an $11.8 million budget deficit. Some hope state leadership can bring about positive change.

"Get the district back on track, to help us, not to hurt us," said concerned parent Linda Arceneaux.

Other community stakeholders believe TEA's previous involvement only exacerbated the district's troubles.

"What I really think we really need is a new strong superintendent, to run this district," said teacher Ivy Spivey.

"There's not anger here. There is no anger here. It's simply is a concern," said U.S. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee.

Board members point out several of North Forest's challenges started long before their tenures.

"This sitting board cannot be held responsible for what happened in the 1990s," said Dr. Ross.

Two high schools in NFISD received the lowest state ranking academically unacceptable. TEA's commissioner considers that evidence of the board's failure. However the committee already voted to consolidate the campuses.

In total this issue is about the laws of local control over the school district. Some people consider it a travesty but still others say it is the only way to truly turn things around.

The TEA's plan still has to be approved by the Justice Department. The school board has until the middle of this month to file its review with the state, if it wants to appeal. It's not likely this will be resolved by the beginning of the school year.

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