LA MARQUE — School district trustees are scheduled to meet Monday to discuss what could prove to be a sticky legal situation. Their decision could determine whether they face legal action from a state-backed electricity program or cancel a contract with an electrical retail giant.
The La Marque school district, like many districts in the state, was buying electricity from the Energy for Schools program, a nonprofit retail electric provider managed by the Texas General Land Office. The district’s contract with Energy for Schools does not expire for at least another year.
Somehow, the school board approved switching providers to Reliant Energy. Reliant is owned by one of the country’s largest electrical providers, NRG.
Whether the decision to switch electrical providers was a result of a recommendation from the administration or from someone on the school board was not clear.
The La Marque school district has come under closer scrutiny by the Texas Education Agency because of issues with its finances. While the financial picture has improved, a continuing drop in enrollment during the past several years has put a strain on the district’s revenues from the state. The district risks losing its accreditation if the financial and educational performances do not meet state standards.
School officials have refused to discuss details of the situation, even after voting to authorize the district’s attorney to take some sort of action in connection to a vaguely worded agenda item.
The item, discussed almost exclusively in a July 10 executive session agenda, was to “Consider, discuss and take possible action regarding Energy for Schools; Interlocal Electricity Procurement Agreement between the District and Energy for Schools with Texas General Land Office and Cavallo Energy Texas; and the Reliant Electric Sales Agreement and contemplated litigation.”
Even after voting to take some sort of action, district officials, including school board members and Superintendent Terri Watkins, refused to say what that action was. State law requires a public body to clearly reveal what action it is taking in a public vote.
It’s also possible that La Marque’s deal with Reliant could be as much as double the cost per kilowatt hour when compared to the contract with the nonprofit Energy for Schools.
The executive director for Energy for Schools was on vacation last week and could not be reached. While not commenting on the topic, the school district also has yet to release documents connected to the agenda item that The Daily News requested on July 14.
In a July 30 response to The Daily News’ request, the district’s attorney claims those records won’t be available until Aug. 25. The Daily News contends all documents used for the July 10 meeting should be released immediately.
WHAT: La Marque school board
WHEN: 6 p.m. Monday
WHERE: Administration Building, 1727 Bayou Road