LA MARQUE — After two hours of discussion Wednesday, school board members tabled a vote on a plan that would close the La Marque school district’s $2.9 million budget deficit, one day before the deadline.

It is the same plan Superintendent Ecomet Burley released last week that would fill a $2.9 million budget deficit by cutting nearly $5 million in expenditures over the next two years through consolidating campuses, laying off staff, summer furloughs and salary freezes.

The Texas Education Agency did not grant the district a second deadline extension for submitting a plan.

A motion to delay a vote on the plan passed 5-2 with board President Annie Burton and Trustees Edna Courville, Shirley Fanuiel, Edward Crawford and Nakisha Paul in favor.

Trustees Davey Jones and Joe Cantu voted against a delay.

Consolidating elementary schools would save the district about $1.6 million.

If adopted, students from Westlawn, Inter-City and Highlands elementary schools would be combined and moved into the La Marque Middle School building. 

First- through fourth- grade students would be enrolled in La Marque Elementary School, and fifth and sixth grades at La Marque Intermediate at the same campus.

La Marque Middle School seventh- and eighth-grade students would be enrolled in La Marque Jr. High and moved to the vacated building with the largest capacity, which could be Highlands Elementary.

Burley said that if the Renaissance Academy is granted charter school status and increases its enrollment, the academy could be moved into a vacated building mid year or during a student holiday.

According to the plan, the academy will be renamed Simms Renaissance STEM Academy Charter School.

Finance Director Lori Alexander warned not to anticipate increased enrollment.

“To repurpose another building, unless we get a charter or additional funding, is a luxury we don’t have,” Alexander said. “We need to see what comes in. We’ve gone out on a limb too many times projecting enrollment will increase and making budget projections based on that.”

Two teachers from the academy might be laid off if the plan passes and the academy doesn’t get charter status.

Consolidation would transition all campuses into academies with a focus on science technology, engineering and math, according to the plan.

It will also necessitate an increase in the number of bus routes from 18 to 21, which transportation provider Durham School Services estimated would increase the district’s annual transportation cost to $1 million from $821,000.

There was no funding increase included for transportation in the 2013-14 school year, but Burley said the estimate might have been too high, so the issue was unresolved.

The district could save an additional $1 million by laying off 15 elementary school teachers and two principals, in addition to other support staff and administrators. 

A five-day furlough and 10 percent salary reductions for all professional level employees would save another $1.3 million.

The plan is contingent on the district obtaining a loan from a private lender in July at 3 to 5 percent interest that it would pay back in three years.

It was audited and approved by Whitley Penn Auditing Firm.

“This plan assumes that everything goes according to plan and that nothing out of the ordinary happens,” auditor Selena Miller told the board.


No action on Burley’s contract

LA MARQUE — After a brief closed- door meeting to talk about Superintendent Ecomet Burley’s contract, La Marque school trustees did not take any action Wednesday night. Trustee Edna Courville had requested the contract review to look at the possibility of firing the superintendent.

The scheduled executive session on Burley’s contract lasted about 10 minutes. Trustees are scheduled to meet again tonight, but Burley’s contract status is not on the agenda.


At a glance

WHAT: La Marque School Board Meeting

WHEN: 6:30 p.m. today

WHERE: La Marque ISD administration building, 1727 Bayou Road

Contact reporter Whitney Hodgin at 409-683-5236 or whitney.hodgin@galvnews.com.

Locations

(37) comments

Robert Buckner

About par for this crew, does this surprise anybody?

JBG JBG

Well I would like to interject something here which might have gone unnoticed by our esteemed school leaders. Here it is, if you are the WORST school district in Texas, and that is why people are leaving you, why would it make any difference to them if you changed the name of those schools they are leaving? A great circus promoter, Mr. P.T. Barnum once stated, "THERE IS A SUCKER BORN EVERY MINUTE!" I think tax-payers, constituents, parents, and students of this community, are done with being SUCKERS where this school board is concerned!

Another thing, one of their consultants said, "IF THINGS DON'T GO AS PLANNED!" "Planned?" When did this group learned to plan? No Mr. Buckner, I was not surprised! All they know how to do is go into seclusion, table stuff, and try to deceive the public into believing they know what they are doing! This is why they keep going into executive session so much,..getting away from the eyes of the public as much as possible.

I think the TEA has grown weary of playing their incompetent games! So if the deadline is today or tonight for their response (not plan),and they did not get an extension, that could mean they will have to do something or get off the pot! It was an act of unconscionable behavior, they had the audacity to petition for an extension in the first place. It only shined a glaring light on their inabilities to function in the capacities they were elected to serve in.

Then there is this 4-2 vote thing! I think Mr. Davey Jones can now better appreciate why I said a few month ago, he was in no position to guarantee the public that new taxes would not be misused by this group, after he went to bat for a tax increase!

We know these people, we have observed them for a long time. We have observed a steady decline of student enrollment too! They still have not gotten the memo though, that without students, and tax dollars, they will not last long! The new board member who vowed to WORK WITH THE "OTHER" board members if he was elected, is LIVING UP TO HIS PROMISE OR VOW! He is doing exactly what THEY are doing,..Nothing. He bought nothing new to this board, except more of what we did not want, or need.


Walter Manuel

If this...If that...If this... If that happens,,,,, hell if a frog had wings he wouldn't bump his a$$ on the ground everytime he tried jumping either!

This board last night showed every taxpayer in LMISD exactly why TEA needs to take over. They had a balanced budget finally presented to them, but they wanted to tear it apart and make it work for them and their supporters and they could care less about anybody else in the district.

The recommended school name changes are a farce and would never change the appearance nor the caliber of the school district with the political climate going on right now and for years to come. A pig is still a pig no matter how much lipstick you try and paint on it or how fancy you might dress it up!

The recommended school name changes are:

La Marque Elementary Math and Science Academy
La Marque Intermediate Technology Academy
La Marque Jr. High Engineering Academy
SIMMS Renaissance STEM Academy (Charter School).
( La Marque High School not mentioned).

Why would the school district recommend changing EVERY SCHOOL NAME to
"La Marque" something and keep the Simms name on a school? This is nothing more than a backhanded slap in the faces to those other ethnicity groups living in OUR community, not just their own. There is just as much historical significance to those other school names for which others of us attended just like those who attended Simms!

If the school district is going to change school names that's fine, you change them ALL including Simms which should be called " La Marque Renaissance STEM Academy Charter School" and you have all schools reflective of La Marque and not that of a special political interest group.

I intend on doing my part in order to make sure that the charter school application is denied by writing TEA and asking of others to write them as well, reminding TEA that this school board nor school district is in any way prepared to take on any more responsibilties when they can't take care of the students and money that they have or had at hand in the past!

I will remind them of our loss of 724 students in the last 3 years, our discord between the school board members, superintendent and the majority of the community, their failed TRE, high drop out rate, unacceptable school rating, their mandated solvency plan, as well as, other things.

If these board members want to hang out with the big dogs, then they can't act like a little puppy, otherwise they need to keep their tails on the porch! [angry]

Leonard T. Payne

I think Executive Sessions should not be allowed. If you have business to dicuss, it should be done before the public who elected you, not behind closed doors.

City Council Meetings included.

Don't lay-off teachers, clean out the Administration Building off the high dollar salaries just sitting on their arses doing absolutely nothing for the good of the students.

Leonard T. Payne

discuss.

Walter Manuel

I'm curious to read what Margurite has to say about last nights meeting? I'm sure that she was probably there?

I'm most interested in seeing how she describes what the "ENSLAVED" board members looked like last night trying to stay afloat on a sinking ship that's now taken on too much water leaving them with only enough time left to either think about sinking or swimming?? LOL

Walter Manuel

I agree with you Mr. Payne on executive sessions. The only time that there should be a closed executive session held is when your discussing personnel matters that affects an employee. It's only fair to that employee that his business not be discussed out in public, but for everything else I agree should be done in the open public.

Robert Buckner

It doesn't matter to me what they name a building as long as a decent education is the purpose of the building, and it is filled with quality instructors and eager to learn youngsters. JBG mentioned P.T. Barnum, he may want to buy the administration building in order to secure some new clowns for his show. The circus may also have a need for a dog aand pony show.

Walter Manuel

I contacted TEA a few moments ago and tried to understand the difference between a district charter and an open charter and found it to be not much help.

It appears there's no way to stop the district from applying for the charter start up program through TEA, but considering everything that LMISD is going through it's very unlikely it will be granted.

I was told that LMISD taxpayers could petition board members not to go through with the application process, however we know that would be a huge waste of time. So it is what it is at this point...

Island Bred

Aww man - I didn't get to go last night. I will go tonight thos. I am quite upset over the Sims business and I try to see every color there is but I admit this is a slap in the face to every other educator who has a namesake school. Why name just ONE after someone? To keep Ealge Nest happy - that's why. I don't know why they should bother with that nonsense he couldn't get the votes or keep the so called "promises" he made.

Why are they so afraid of him?

I expect tonight will be more fun to watch anyway.

It amazes me they are going under for the 3rd time and they are complaining about names of schools. It's like they have this desire for failure.

They need to focus ONLY on the budget - get it passed and say goodnight. They have regular scheduled meetings for all this other crap.
Conduct business or go home. I will add they need to conduct business in PUBLIC.

I'm glad to hear that Jones (who I may add I have never seen) and Cantu voted FOR the budget.

I'm pretty preturbed that Mr Crawford being presented with a plan didn't see fit to vote for it. If TEA endorsed the plan his words were that he would vote FOR it so I'm not sure what happened there but I will hold him accountalbe next election.

Ole Edna just needs to get someone to get that burr out of her saddle over Burley and leave the personality at home. She isn't elected and I hold the rest of the board responsible for that.

Island Bred

I didn't get to go last night but I will be there tonight. I had a rant going but seems the computer angel saved me..........[beam]

I'm disappointed in Crawford for not signing something that he knew the TEA ok'd. His words were that he would sign if he knew the TEA approved the plan. Please tell me that he isn't letting these women drag him around by the nose.

I'm also insulted about the Sims nonsense. We are broke jackwads - wake the hell up. Besides that - the whole idea to bury other schools named after non minority foks and revive only the minority name is just a war in the wings. WTH is wrong with you folks - you seem to thrive on divisiveness. Grow up, do the districts business then GO HOME.

George Croix

If it wasn't obvious what the top priority of the Board was before, it certainly should be now. In most school districts, success would be measured by the accreditation rating of the schools in district, the post-graduation accomplishments of it's students, and the plans for the future growrth of those achievements.
In this one, success is saving a building.
Ideologues make poor leaders.

Gary Miller

Another day wasted? How much per day does doing nothing cost LM taxpayers?
Changing names on buildings does't qualify as doing something. Actually it's another way to waste taxpayers money. What'll it cost to remove the old name and replace with a new name. What'll it cost to change paper and internet names?
Starting a solvency plan with letting teachers go proves this bunch of (????) has no business being in the education business. Teachers are the most valuable asset LMISD has. Even bad teachers are worth more than the (????) on the board.

Island Bred

Looks like the angel didn't show up fast enough.................

Robert Buckner

I honestly fell like there will be no action tonight either at the board/bored meeting.

Island Bred

Well I am tired of showing up for meetings and having them conducted behind closed doors. That just doesn't seem right. Imagine what would happen if the city did this on a regualr basis. WTH can't these folks conduct an out in the open PUBLIC meeting?????

I'm fed up.[angry]

Walter Manuel

The reason for them going behind closed doors is so that they can get their OJT (on job training) without looking like the idiots that they are!

I had someone tell me today that Shirley Fanuiel asked last night if someone's name appeared on the RIF (reduction in force) list can they take someone off and put someone else's name on there? The answer is simply HELL TO THE NO!

This is the problem with this school board. They want to micromanage this school district and when they were elected to the board they thought that they had a lot more power than they actually do, even the older one's are still having a problem with this.

The school board members cannot tell Mr. Burley who to hire or fire despite them holding his job over his head. This is true for city council as well not being able to tell the city manager who she can hire or fire.

Shirley's actions were plain and simple to see that all the board is concerned about is their own people and not the innocent teachers who show up everyday and do the best at their jobs and without being involved in school politics like some people make it their business to do so often!

We need to keep the most qualified teachers we now have and let the others who are there protected by their friends on the board go. Heaven knows with a proposed 10 % reduction in salaries for professional staff, the good teachers will leave next year leaving us with those who couldn't get a job anywhere else if they tried!

Gary Miller

Missionjary man
A 10 % raise for good teachers would be a start on recovery.
Have any good teachers stayed this long? Good teachers aren't stupid they saw long ago LMISD wasn't going to be a good place to teach. Bad teachers can't be driven out because LMISD could be their last chance.
Actually I think no teacher should be on the RIF list until all teachers are evaluated by an independent agency. If there are any good teachers left you really must find a way to keep them. Trying to rebuild LMISD without good teachers is a waste of time.

Kevin Walker

Board of Trustees your whole existence is to serve the will of the people. Voters have elected NOT to raise their taxes to support the current way of doing business. Present a viable solvency plan or resign. You do not have right to do nothing. Close whatever buildings that must be closed, reduce whatever staff necessary and get rid of whatever staff as appropriate. People did not buy into raising taxes and aren't buying into this filibustering.

If you don't get it do the honorable thing and resign. It's simple, do one or the other, tonight.

Gary Miller

Walk 23
I suspect you just got enough votes to get elected chairman of the board.
It looks like this board has decided they can't get elected and intend to leave the biggest mess as posible for all you ingrates and malcontents to fix.
They decided you don't appreciate them doing what THEY want instead of what the ISD needs done.

Robert Buckner

Well stated walk 23.

Walter Manuel

Absolutely Kevin, they need to do the honorable thing, but unless some spectacular miracle happened over night then don't hold your breath.

Marine One

When I was growing up I was taught if you didn't work hard and earn your pay, at the end of the day you were fired and replaced with someone who would. Sounds like we need to go back to old school tactics.

Walter Manuel

1960BOI, that's how most of us were reared as well.

Now look at how the adults of this district who are setting horrible examples for the next generation of children that they are responsible for overseeing and how they will be coming out of LMISD with the exact same mentailty?

Absolutely nothing to be proud of to say the least!

Island Bred

Hey Walk - I don't know who told you that they work for you cause they will tell you every meeting that YOU are only there to observe. It's THIER meeting - and don't you forget it! If they need your input they will ask for it. They will tell you that again tonight just in case you forget......

The teachers that show up as props for this board each and every meeting are there for job security. Trust me - they ain't goin nowhere........

Walter Manuel

Margurite, do they really tell you before the meeting that you are only there to observe and it's their meeting?

The meeting I went to I was running late so I didn't hear that part.

If they do say that during their meeting then they are mistaken as that meeting belongs to everyone that wants to go and witness the circus freak side show.

Island Bred

You telling me that you have never heard the 2 paragraphs that they make Cantu read every meeting???

It basically says it's an elected board but your input during the meeting isn't welcome sort of like "housekeeping". I figured they were telling us that cause of you Walter.

IT's a pretty unfriendly sort of speech and it's done every meeting. Usually by Cantu sometimes by Annie herself but trust me it's not a warm and fuzzy we are here for you speech. Yes they DO say - it's the "boards meeting".
We also have the obigatory reading lesson - like we need to go over the mission every meeting???? Then they slide out to go to the meeting closet. Come back make a few comments and vote - unless of course they have to go back to the closet cause they forgot HOW they were supposed to vote.

It's not legal as I see it, it's not open, and it's not transparent by a long shot. That is why it's so hard to even go to the meetings. You go, get lectured to, then sit around for an hour for a 15 minute side show. I want to know what is going on - IN THE OPEN.

They are elected they at least owe us that. They go down the agenda by number and vote - even when they agenda says "discussion" - they pass it and vote it - with next to no discussion.

Island Bred

Forgot to add - it's not done before the meeting it's done after the pledge and the mission I believe - it's one of the first 3 agenda items.

Island Bred

I went and looked - it's called the "opening" statement. It's between the pledge and the reading lesson.

Mike Meador

I spent 19 years of my 32 years teaching/coaching at LaMarque High School. When I started, LaMarque was the second highest paid district in the state. The administration consisted, as I can remember, 12 people working at the administration building. We had over 6,000 kids. They really encouraged teachers to live in the district. I believe all administration personel were required to live in the area code. LaMarque wanted all administrators/teachers to invest their life to the community, just like the school they worked in everday.
Instead of moving ahead, LaMarque ISD is providing itself as the mockery of their community, as-well-as those in the state.
LaMarque has very little time to save their school district. Decisions must be made by this school district - if it means to consolidate schools, get rid of administrators/teachers/support personnel - then get with it! This school board has wasted money, but they don't have the time to waste now!
LaMarque ISD will not be the district as when I started working. But if this school district does not get with it, the community will not have schools in the very near future....and that's a sad thing to think about.

Walter Manuel

Wow Margurite what audacity to think that they have that much control as a school board member. Especially when Annie Burton only won by 23 votes because her opponent didn't really get out and work the votes.

I can assure you that things will be much different from now on!

Cougargator, you probably taught many of us that post here on the blogs. Your right LMISD was unlike any other district and students were doing their best to enroll in our school not just because of our academic standards, but our sports ability as well.

This standard has long been gone in the district, as well as, teachers as you say that actually live here or those living here care enough about the instruction that they deliver to students as those that do live here are protected by the board.

Everybody heard that last night by Shirley's comment........

Robert Buckner

I hope after the shenangans of the last two years that the LMISD district has a few concerned parnets and taxpayers concenbed anf dedicated enough to run for office on the LMISD board and put an end to this nightmare.

JBG JBG

I got some news! This district is worse NOW, than it was when I came through! Hey, and that was awful bad. I could tell you some stories, but they are so bad some of you will start sniffing and blowing your noses, and still others like the EAGLES NEST will be to shame to admit the truth, because of all the lies they been telling! Then on top of that, the forum police might not want that kind of truth to get out! Folks want to keep truth under wraps these days! Some of them will tell you on this forum, not just some fromLM, but other places too, to keep quiet! Don't publicly complain about nothing, we don't want the truth to get out! I've heard this! Hey when public servants get this bad, you have to "CRY LOUD AND SPARE NOT" (ISAIAH 58:1 SAYS).

So, let me just say this, when you get this many people who don't know squat about running nothing grouped together,..you got trouble on your hands! Excellence goes out the window first, then unity in situations like we find ourselves in here. I'll tell you one thing, Dr. Armstrong didn't need single member districts in order to measure up, and do a doggone good job on that board! Neither did Dr. G.K. Drake! Both of them would turn over in their graves if they could see what these so call Trustees have done here. See the truth hurts, and when I start talking about all this stuff, these people don't want to hear that, because it hurts!

The state might need to lower the expectations for this group. I frankly don't believe they are up to the task of performing at the level that other boards are performing at! They sure have not demonstrated that they can do so, up to this point. Now they believe changing the names of the schools will somehow like the Pied Piper, cause all the students and more besides, to come MARCHING BACK IN HERE TO THEM! Maybe it has something to do with Nest Flu!

Steve Bock

who is up for election. In my opinion Ms Alexander is the shaprest one up there when it come to the finances of the school.

Nancy Leader

The idea of LM Charter schools is nothing more than "wolves in sheep clothing". I believe this latest idea of charter schools is another way of saving their precious Simms Elementry. It feels like, that's all they are really about, is enshrining their special interests at any cost. If that building is so important, then why don't those two preachers move their

Nancy Leader

(opps.... accidentally hit the enter key)

move their congregations in, have church on Sundays and school the rest of the week! Problem solved!

Walter Manuel

Mr. Bock, Laurie Alexander is losing her job and it wasn't ever mentioned that she was resigning.

Let me share with everyone her replacement according to Arlene Lassin, Director of Human Resources:

" Director of Finances - Diane Duron, currently Accountant, will replace this position. She in turn will hire an exempt employee to assist with accounting functions. Ms. Alexander is training Ms. Duron to assume her responsibilities. In additions, Ms. Duron is attending Webinars for State Funding updates, review and reports, requesting training at Region IV, attending other training for new job assignments, meeting with other Business Managers in peer districts to review best practices, and current trends. She will attend TASBQ trainings this year as well, and was given the authority to request the support of qualified consultants as needed".

Trust me any grammatical errors this time is NOT MY FAULT! This was what was on their solvency plan!

So, Mr. Bock what you see this position is nothing more than OJT for someone who is not qualified to take on this role as a finance director. I see both sides as people have pointed out that several years ago Ms. Alexander assured Mr. Burley that the district would not suffer as a result of giving teachers the raises that he approved and some people are saying that she needs to go because of her bad advice.

I will request to see the ethnicity of the employees that lost their jobs as a result of the cuts as too many people have told me that the cuts will be made according to what the school board has directed Mr. Burley to do in order to save his job and I'm starting to believe it!

I can guarantee you that the cuts better have been made according to what best serves this school district and have had no political affiliation!

Amspoylt, I spent enough time on the phone today speaking my voice to TEA to make sure that LMISD is not granted their request for a charter school. It doesn't sound like they will get it and they dang sure have no business having one that would take away from another school district where the school board, superintendent and community are all NOT working in unison for the same success. We ain't even close to having that right now and any money for a charter school needs to be given to other districts more deserving than LMISD!

I sure hope Margurite posts what happens after the meeting tonight because my sources weren't able to attend! UGH!

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