Last Sunday, The Daily News warned that the Texas Education Agency would be making a mistake if it appointed a monitor or conservator for the La Marque Independent School District.

It was not an influential suggestion. Within days, the state agency named Carlos Price, a former assistant superintendent in La Marque, as conservator. He was given authority to oversee parts of the district’s operations and management.

We still think that’s a mistake. The main problem with the move was that it was hopelessly late. After watching from the sidelines — for years — while the school district dug itself into a financial hole, the state acted only after the district’s finances finally began to improve. It’s hard to see that as inspirational leadership.

But given that the state has appointed a conservator, the district should make the best of it. 

The district should try to regain its independence as quickly as possible and rebuild its ability to give students an adequate education.

Now’s the time for the community to be honest with itself on several points:

• First, La Marque has lost ultimate control of its district. No matter what is said to soften the blow — and a lot of sweet talking is being done — local officials are going to have to get approval from a representative of the state to do things every other school district does routinely. People in La Marque ought to get their school district back.

• Second, the problems with finances, though they have been horrific, are not the most pressing threat to the district’s survival today. The killer is the district’s academic performance. Somewhere along the way, the La Marque school district lost the ability to educate a reasonable number of its students. It’s got to regain that ability.

• Third, rebuilding the district’s reputation is going to take time. The school board made an excellent choice in its new superintendent, Terri Watkins. She’s making the right moves and is working hard to reconnect people with their public schools.

However, a turnaround on some of the state’s measures is a slow game. One key measure is completion rate. That’s a measure of the number of freshman who graduate from high school. Obviously, that’s a four-year process. The community needs to grasp the idea that this is going to take time.

• Fourth, the hard medicine is not over. The state’s measures suggest that the district still has some weak performers among its professional staff. It’s always sad when people lose their jobs. But people in the community should give the superintendent support when she decides to make the tough calls. More hard calls are going to be required of her.

• Fifth, an underlying theme in the dialogue between the state and the district has been mistrust of the board. La Marque has a narrow group of people who are willing to stand for office and take a role in trying to guide public institutions. For all the turmoil the school district has been through, there are few new candidates for school board. That has got to change.

People in the school district have some work to do to get their schools back.

A good first step would be to see the conservator and the state as partners, rather than adversaries.

Heber Taylor is editor of The Daily News.


(10) comments

Robert Buckner

The second item is the most important.

Chris Gimenez

"It was not an influential suggestion." Hubris Taylor must look in the mirror every morning and think how lucky Galveston County is to have his superior intellect telling us what's best for us.

What he fails to do in his previous column is offer an alternative to what the state was going to do. And now he says well, if the state isn't going to take his advice then here's what they need to focus on. Unbelievable. I'm willing to bet they're not exactly scrambling this morning to read the paper for his advice now.

Mr. Taylor, the state waited as long as they could because the last thing they wanted to do is jerk the reins away from a board that was elected by the taxpayers in the district. That doesn't mean the taxpayers are very smart or that the board can put 2+2 together but the state has to wait until it's obvious they can't overcome their problems.

I don't think Mr. Price is going to be the savior this district needs but it's the way the process works. Perhaps Mr. Price will use Hubris' blueprint to save the district. [beam]

Walter Manuel

"A good first step would be to see the conservator and the state as partners, rather than adversaries".

The next move benefitting our district would be to see the state send in monitors finally sending these incompetent board members packing!

We'll see once again if our proven self serving board members nail yet another nail into the coffin of LMISD by not calling on Shirley Fanuiel to resign from her seat or will they finally make a decision that perhaps can start the healing process of gaining a little trust back from the community by the boards actions?

Why blame TEA and everyone else when the board members are the obvious reason the district is now in the shape that it's in because they have ALWAYS chosen their friends over what best serves the student's, taxpayers and our community as a whole.

Wasn't Shirley Fanuiel just one of the board members that called on Mr. Burley to resign saying that it was in the best interest of the school district that he did so?

Well you know what they say about what's good for the goose....[yawn]

Robert Buckner

If the conservator can direct trustees on how to vote, can he make them honest and tell the truth?

Walter Manuel

You bring up a very good point Robert, can Mr. Price direct the school board members into voting to force Shirley Fanuiel into resigning from her seat seeing how it would certainly benefit the school districts image and the boards past reputation?


Somebody said long ago,..AND IT AMOUNTED TO KARMA BEING A FEMALE DOG. That is not the way it was said but it will do for posting purposes on this forum. Mr. Manuel is right and it is very plain to see, some of these board members are getting back the harvest from many of the seed crops they have sowed over the years!
Bvresident was right too, the state had to wait until the process determining and proving the individuals running LMISD were unfit to lead and manage, before they moved in! Even so,.. I think they moved to late by a few years! If there ever was a doubt about it, that last solvency plan LMISD sent to the state, worked on by HIRED EXPERT CONSULTANTS, hand in hand with LMISD, removed all doubts. That is why the state had no choice but to step in and take control!
The infusion of single member voting, districts have watered down and diluted the ability of this community to provide a quality educational opportunity for the students here. That process is the ROOT of the problem here, and all other connecting issues are just by-products of the root, or just symptomatic of what the real problem is! It is plain to me and should be to many others that, there is a lack of accountability for public servants elected to LMISD positions, or they would not be in office period, let alone residing there for twenty years doing the same incompetent jobs!
There should be no doubt about that! In the meantime it is the children who are suffering, but lets look at it like this, children cannot pay tithes, nor give offerings, now can they! This is why you won't seed a bunch of vote delivering, religious organizers storming the LMISD board meeting,.. demanding ineffective public servants be removed for cause.
Where are community leaders like The Late Rev. Wiley Dunn, The Late Dr. Robert Armstrong, The late Dr. George K. Drake, former Trustee Mable Pratt, and former Trustee T. Bowie? ARE THERE ANY LEFT CUT FROM THE SAME FABRIC? Those were real leaders, and their output and the fruit of excellence they produce made it plain to see they were effective leaders who gave a dam,..and who took pride in just being effective,successful, and productive for the good of the public!
They sort to give and not take, they sort to unite and not divide! they sort to move forward and not dwell on, or in the past! We might not EVER see the likes of those beautiful leaders again around here. So why fight the inevitable?
We can ill afford to wait for today's LMISD freshmen to attend an under performing state school system, to find out four years later what we FOUND OUT FOUR YEARS AGO, about this community and this school board. It does not make sense! They are in a hole over their heads and THEY ARE STILL DIGGING! So you tell me! Would you want a surgeon performing surgery on your child, with a record like the one these people have? Would you want a dentist who had a performance record like the record they have working on you or your child? I rest my case!
Ms Watkins might have made minor progress where finances were concerned with the acquisition of federal grants, etc.etc. but there has not been any academic progress nor is likely to be. She will need eons of help to do that, and that help is unlikely to show up here. Mr. Taylor mentioned that we have now lost our district to the state, that is super fine with me and many others here, because we lost our district to this dysfunctional board of trustees protected by single member voting districts, years ago!
This is why time has expired for any logical hope of reviving LMISD! We just cannot afford any more casualties composing of thousands of students streaming through here, being sacrificed to a dysfunctional, incompetent educational process,...and compounding that by turning our heads to the truth we as a community won't stand up and face!
We are sinking in the quicksand of inadequacy while bordering school districts are thriving! Now go explain that!


Somebody might be thinking, "Is Ole JBG hot? "YES I'M HOT!!!!!!!!".........and I want you to be hot with me! I'm tired of seeing young people,...especially minority young men, streaming to barred cells of jails and prisons, succumbing to the degradation, and indignity it brings to their lives,...joining prison gangs in order to survive, and systematically being set up for a life of low or no income worth a dam! Making it more than a possibility that they will return to the world of crime and incarceration, like a dog to it's vomit! I'm tired of seeing it!
In my life I've observed many who got out of prison, but prison never got out of them, they would go back again, and again! I know a few who died there!
Society will be quick to blame them and probably their parents and rightfully so, but why would anyone want to contribute to something so horrendous? Well, that is to bad, because sitting around watching a school system ill-equipped to educate, the young,..and doing nothing about it, is CONTRIBUTING TO FUTURE WOES of those young people,..who in essence will be locked out of the American dream. Their views and visions of the future will forever be dim and darkened by what some selfish unqualified public servant refuse to do!
Better listen to me,...I've watched this thing from both sides. I've lived around it and I've worked around it too! Knowledge is a hell of a thing, to be without, and the foundation needed to received knowledge, is just as important. THAT'S WHY THERE WERE PARENTS CAMPING FOR TWO DAYS OUTSIDE A PREFERRED HIGH PERFORMING PRE-SCHOOL, IN A LINE, HOPING TO ENROLL THEIR CHILDREN RECENTLY IN GALVESTON!!!!
A good foundation will determine what quality of home one can build,..a good foundation can also affect the quality of education, one can receive. [wink]

Robert Buckner

I think Ole JBG gets an AMEN for that one.


Thank you Mr. Buckner, I like yourself, and Mr. Manuel are thinking out of the box on this thing! We know what is at stake here, don't we? Not only us, I know there are many others who realize the importance of NOT LETTING THESE LMISD LEADERS OFF THE HOOK! It has been to hard getting to we are now, to back up and listen to any self-serving rhetoric coming out of West Texas City!
It is important for Mr. Carlos Price to know,...nothing can save LMISD as long as those who are destroying it, still have access in order to destroy the district along with the futures of many of those students who cannot afford to go any place else! There will always be some of that sort,..whose families will not be able to afford to do what it would take to move them! Transportation costs could be a factor.
So it is up to us, to speak on their behalf, I right about that? Now! Here is what this Old East Texas Plow Boy thinks!!! I say...."HAUL OFF AND RUN' EM ALL OFF" That won't happen,...not likely,, here is plan B,....close her down,...lock the doors! Mandate these kids go to where there are those who knows what they are doing! Why would I sit back and watch what happened years ago to me, happen to children int 2014? It's stupid I tell you! It does not make sense!
NEW JERSEY!!!!!!! ( Lean on Me ).

Walter Manuel

Wow Mr. JBG you leaned ALL the way into your powerful statement ALL the way around!

Amen, Amen, Amen is ALL I can say!

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