Waco: Retiring WISD Board member doesn’t plan to ‘ride off into the sunset’

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) At-large Waco School Board member and board President Pat Atkins, who announced he’s stepping down after 17 years on the board, says he doesn’t plan to “ride off into the sunset,” but plans to remain engaged.

Pat Atkins. (WISD photo)

In his resignation letter to the board, he said he and his wife are planning to sell their home in the Waco ISD later this year and move outside the district, which will leave him ineligible to serve.

“My wife is a Waco ISD teacher, and I have three children who graduated from Waco ISD schools,” Atkins said.

“Serving on this school board has been extremely gratifying and, at times, very challenging.”

“For the past 17 years, I have been blessed to work with a group of educators and board members who are deeply committed to the students in our community. We’ve faced difficult decisions, and we’ve disagreed at times. I’ve never doubted, though, that each of us was doing what we thought was best for kids.”

During Atkin’s tenure, the board has been faced with deep state budget cuts in 2011 that led to a decision to close nine local campuses, a tax ratification election in 2015 that boosted district revenues to expand opportunities for students, raise literacy rates and improve behavior and discipline, and the decision to for a partnership with Prosper Waco in an effort to save six failing schools.

“Pat has had such a significant influence on Waco ISD that it’s hard to put it into words,” Dr. Hazel Rowe, interim superintendent, said.

“For 17 years, he has asked what we can do, together, as a community to give our kids a brighter future. And for just as long, he has taken seriously the responsibility to be a good steward of our community’s tax dollars. Our kids, our schools and our community are all better off because of his leadership.”

Atkins says he’s not sure what the future holds.

“We'll see what happens. I mean right now I'm building a house and taking guitar lessons,” he said in an interview Tuesday.

"I would not envision that I'm going to ride off into the sunset and sit on my patio and rocking chair for the next 30 or 40 years,” he said.

“I will continue to be engaged. I truly believe in the mission of the Waco public schools and I think the difference this district makes for students and their families is incredible. I will continue to be here as a resource and will continue to support the Waco schools."

Board members on May 23 will discuss how to fill the vacancy.

They may appoint a replacement or call a special election.