Superintendent Michael Seabolt will be serving another five years as the head of Marlin Independent School District.
The district’s state-appointed board of managers approved the contract during its meeting Monday night. The decision comes a little more than a month after the board conducted an annual superintendent evaluation. His new contract expires in February 2023, he said.
“I had no doubt on the extension, not after the excellent evaluation I received last month,” Seabolt wrote in an email Wednesday. “It was just a matter of continuing on a three-year contract or a five-year contract. I am honored that the board had the confidence in me to extend a five-year contract. I think that shows the unity of the board and the strength of the board-superintendent collaboration.”
The board did not discuss increasing his salary, but that could come at a later date, Seabolt said. Seabolt makes $140,000 per year.
When Seabolt started in 2015, he inherited a district on the verge of closure by the state because it had failed to meet state academic standards for several years.
The district recently had its accreditation revoked by the Texas Education Agency because it ranked as “improvement required” for 2016-2017, marking six consecutive years with the rating.
The accreditation decision is likely a procedural formality as the district works with the state on how to move forward, school officials said.
It is the second time the state has revoked the district’s accreditation, and district officials are waiting to hear whether the state will grant another abatement agreement to keep Marlin ISD open, pending the results of a recent review of the district’s progress.
Seabolt said Friday the agreement may be ready in two to four weeks, and Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath has said previously he had no plans to close the district.
“In terms of closure, I don’t view that as a likely possibility,” Morath told the Tribune-Herald in June. “In terms of exiting state oversight, I’m not too sure about that either. It’s going to be somewhere in between.”
The TEA removed the district’s elected governing body and appointed a board of managers in February last year. Seabolt’s contract was in limbo for a short time as he waited for word from state officials about whether he too would be removed from the district.
State officials decided to keep Seabolt, and the new board approved a three-year contract during one of the board’s first meetings. If he serves through the end of his contract, Seabolt will be the longest-serving superintendent the district has had since 2005, TEA records show.
Since his hire, Seabolt has raised starting teacher salaries by $15,000 to bring in more qualified teachers, reduced the district’s workforce to address a $1 million deficit budget and helped shift the district’s focus toward improving state assessment scores by 4 percent across the board this year.
The improvements so far have not been enough to get the district off the state’s improvement required list.
Last school year, the district made its most significant strides to meet state standards in several years, TEA data show.
“TEA is aware that Marlin ISD is making significant improvements, hence the decision to allow the improvement progress in Marlin to continue,” Seabolt wrote to the Tribune-Herald earlier this month after the state revoked the district’s accreditation. “The high school earned a distinction from the state in math last year. The middle school would have earned a distinction in math, but reading scores were too low and therefore the campus was still ‘improvement required.’ Distinctions are not granted to IR campuses even if they are earned. The quality of instruction at Marlin ISD is simply superb, and that is even according to our TEA PSP (professional service provider) Brenda Marek.”
Marlin has been on the state’s improvement required list longer than any other district that still has the rating.