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State gives North Forest ISD control to new board of managers, superintendent

The Texas Education Agency installed new leadership at North Forest ISD last Tuesday night, following up on a ruling that it made last August that the elected Trustees must improve the management of the district and repay outstanding monies to TEA.

In a relatively perfunctory series of two meetings, the new board of managers was first sworn in, and then a regular board meeting was convened to hear staff reports, vote on business matters, and listen to some presentations from students and parents.

The board room was packed for the meetings, mostly with approving parents, educators, and a large contingent representing B. C. Elmore school. A lively “rap” song/essay was presented by LaPatrick Haywood, a student at Elmore. The rap song was a combination of a welcome to the new board, and a plea for help to achieve a good education at North Forest.

Haywood ended his rhetoric with the line, “do you believe in me?” and in the spirit of the evening, board president McShan smiled and said “We believe in you.”

In the public comment session, Betty Robinson, president of the AFTA teachers’ association of North Forest ISD, welcomed the new board and spoke about the need for highly qualified teachers in the district, to get a quality educationa and to meet the requirements of AYP, the federal program that measures “Adequate Yearly Progress.”

Andrea Cuchine, spoke about putting Children First, and thanked the TEA for making changes in the leadership that will bring improvement. Referring to her real estate background, she said “you have the growth of our community in your hands,” and indicated that the district had to have quality schools if other improvements were to occur.

Other comments came from Larugene Young, and Ms. Hicks.

Robyn German Curtis, representing the grassroots educational advocacy group NEEF, NorthEast Education First, said they looked forward to an opportunity to improve, with TEA help. She urged the new leadership to listen closely and work with the community, and develop a comprehensive plan that the community could commit to and help implement.

In other business, the board mentioned that there will be a tax rollback election December 6, at which time a 13 cent per $100 valuation will be asked for, to help repay the funds that are due the state, and establish a more fiscally sound basis for the district to proceed.

The school calendar was amended, to make May 25 and June 4 instructional days to make up for time lost during the hurricane Ike. It is expected that the state will allow the district to waive any other makeup days, but principals at each school are developing plans to compensate for the educational time lost.