State to take over struggling Central Texas school district

Marlin ISD Administration Building. (Photo by John Carroll)
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MARLIN, Texas (KWTX) The state has appointed a conservator and will name a board of managers to oversee operations as it takes over the struggling Marlin Independent School District in which students fell short of making the grade on standardized tests again this year.

The Texas Education Agency could have consolidated the district with another one nearby, but chose instead to change the leadership at the top after the district failed to meet state standards for a fifth straight year.

The TEA requires schools to pass three of the four indices to meet state standards.

Marlin High School scored four points higher than the state requirement in student progress, four points higher in closing performance gaps and nine points higher than state standard in post-secondary readiness, but it was the only campus that met state standards.

Marlin Middle School exceeded state standards in the student progress index by nine points, but did not meet state standards in the student achievement index, closing performance gaps index and the post-secondary readiness index.

Marlin Elementary School did not meet state standards in any one of the four rating indices.

"We knew something like this was coming,” Marlin Superintendent Michael Seabolt said Monday.

Seabolt learned of the takeover in a letter dated Sept. 23 from Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath,

The district’s current TEA monitor, Dr. Rose Cameron, who retired at the end of the 2011-2012 school year as superintendent of the Copperas Cove ISD, was named conservator.

The district will pay her $85 an hour plus travel expenses, Morath said in the letter.

The board of managers will be named in 60 to 90 days.

Seabolt's contract expires Nov. 1.

“The school district as we have now will be replaced, and I'm not sure what they will do here with my position,” he said.

“The state could choose to keep me on as interim, or hire me back as superintendent,” he said.

Assistant Superintendent and High School Principal Remy Godfrey says the transition shouldn’t affect day-to-day classroom activities.

“This won't change what we are doing here in teaching our kids,” she said.

“With the monitor who we have now becoming conservator, and working well with us, we should keep leadership in place because we have made some good strides this last year,” she said.

Heath Johnson, the father of two middle school students, says the district’s struggles over the past year have brought many Marlin residents together to fight for the schools.

"I think a lot more people will see it's very very serious and a real situation, and a lot of people are getting involved and just with a little bit more time we will be where we need to be."

LaTonya Heath, who has one child in high school and another in elementary school, says she thinks the district is on the right path.

“We have wonderful staff…very positive."

"I don't think the TEA changes will affect our kids in class, I'm elated they didn't close down the school district,” she said.