North Forest ISD begins discussions to partner with Texas A&M University

February 5, 2013 2:59:48 PM PST
North Forest ISD is taking a whole new approach in its effort to keep the district from dissolving.

On Monday night, the board voted in favor of beginning discussions with Texas A&M University to begin a first-of-its-kind partnership.

Parent Sheila Pruitt says it's no secret her 12th grader's school district has been plagued with problems over the last few years, including financial issues and a high dropout rate, and more than a year ago an order by the Texas Education Agency to shut down North Forest ISD down because of all the issues.

"They have good programs, it's just the fact that they need people in place to actually implement those programs," said Pruitt.

But after hearing that North Forest ISD is now working on a plan to partner with TAMU in hopes that the university will take over and turn things around, this parent is overjoyed.

"I think they ought to try to save it because it's community," Pruitt said.

So what would an A&M takeover mean for this struggling district? North Forest ISD's attorney says it's too early to tell, but it could mean a few things.

"What I see happening is Texas Aamp;M coming in and bringing in a management team to take over the education part of the district at a minimum, and by doing that they are going to bring in their own people to bring in their own teachers," said Chris Tritico, attorney for North Forest ISD.

He says it's a first.

"No one in Texas has ever utilized this," Tritico said.

But the ultimate goal is a positive change for students.

"More importantly, the students win and that's what we're after," he said.

Tritico says for now the district and Texas A&M are only discussing the idea, but the talks alone have parents and community members hopeful.

"I'm for whatever is going to make the district better for the kids," said one parent.

"With new blood comes new ideas, new programs, then I'm all for it."

Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp released a statement Tuesday afternoon which read, "We are flattered that the North Forest Independent School District has asked us to consider being involved in its district operations. We stand ready to provide any help we can to all of Texas when called, but we will do so only at the direction of the State."
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