The No. 1 challenge for the La Marque school district is getting the people of the district involved in the public schools.
The most dangerous idea is that ordinary people don’t need to get involved and that the district’s problems can be solved by one person, meaning the new superintendent.
It’s a version of the idea that you can hire someone to fix any problem. If the first 10 people you hire can’t fix the problem, fire them and hire someone who can.
Some problems don’t yield to that kind of solution. Those facing the La Marque school district are good examples.
The district has what it needs in its new superintendent, Terri Watkins. She’s energetic and tough. She already has a good plan in place to get the school district back on its feet.
But she can’t do this alone.
The district has a fundamental problem that no one person can solve.
For the past five years, the school district has been losing about 240 students a year.
In very round numbers, that’s a loss of about half a million dollars a year. Those losses are cumulative.
Unless that decline is reversed, the alternative is to cut the budget and the staff, year after year, until the district fades away.
So how do you put the La Marque school district into position to enjoy the growth that most mainland communities have experienced?
How do you restore confidence in the public schools and encourage La Marque students to stay in their home district?
That’s a job that’s bigger than any one person. It’s something the community will have to tackle collectively.
Where to start?
First, you can recognize that the La Marque school district has already started — and the 21st Century after-school program was an excellent start. More than 1,000 students — about 40 percent of total enrollment — are involved in this ambitious attempt to improve student performance quickly. Support that program. Support the idea.
Second, if you want to give moral support, get involved in the La Marque ISD Educational Foundation. Most school districts in our area have these foundations, which pick up the costs for extras that aren’t covered by public budgets. Pound for pound, La Marque’s educational foundation raises money with the best of them. Joining this group is a good way of showing support.
Third, you can respect the cure. When you break a leg, it’s painful to set the broken bone. A child who is in pain might not understand that. But those who understand medicine have a responsibility to explain the need to accept some pain as part of a cure. Watkins, with new guidelines for supervising instruction with the ambitious new after-school program, is setting the broken bone. It’s not going to heal tomorrow. But it will heal, if given time, support and care.
• Heber Taylor
School year Enrollment
2008-09 — 3,704
2009-10 — 3,396
2010-11 — 2,971
2011-12 — 2,980
2012-13 — 2,862
2013-14 — 2,482*
* As of May 2