Headed into the new school year with La Marque Independent School District still facing an uncertain future, Superintendent Terri Watkins pledged to continue upward momentum in student achievement, keep a handle on the district’s finances and rebuild community trust.
The district has introduced a new math curriculum this year, and teachers will use teaching and classroom management strategies learned under a program call “Fundamental Fives.” The district will continue assessing students every three weeks instead of every six weeks and offer customized tutoring for students at risk of failing standardized tests.
Meanwhile, the district, with help from the Harris County Department of Education, has put its finances in order, leaving enough leeway to give a much-needed pay raise to district staff.
Watkins hopes the new strategies, improved test scores and healthier finances will be enough to sway the Texas Education Agency to allow the district to remain open under the current administration after this school year.
“Everyone is pleased with the fact that we did meet standards, and they’re pulling for us to do more and do better and be more stable,” said Edna Courville, the district board’s vice president. “We’ve got everything in order.”
Under threat from the TEA of closure this summer, the district launched an appeal and entered into an abatement agreement with the TEA, buying another year.
TEA spokeswoman DeEtta Culbertson said in a written statement that the abatement remains in full effect and that no decision regarding the future of the district beyond this school year has been made. She said Commissioner Michael Williams continues to review the information regarding the district’s overall academic and financial performance and that a decision will be forthcoming.
In July, Williams held off on an order to close the district to await TEA accountability ratings. The district earned the state’s lowest academic rating in three of the last four years (the state did not issue ratings in 2012). It received a substandard financial rating for the 2011-12 year.
Culbertson said the commissioner could install new management, impose further sanctions or leave the district under the abatement agreement. The agreement stipulates the district would waive its right to challenge the TEA’s final decision.
See here and here for the background. My concern with this remains the same – which district would absorb La Marque ISD if it gets dissolved? It was easy enough for HISD to take in North Forest. Looking at the TEA School District Finder map, the neighboring districts to La Marque are Santa Fe, Dickinson, Tiki Island, Texas City, and Hitchcock. Do any of them seem like good candidates to take on the students and schools of La Marque if it gets dissolved? I just don’t see how that ends well. Maybe I’m wrong, but in the absence of any other information, the best answer to me is for La Marque to turn it around.