The Marlin Independent School District will be closed by the state if it does not meet state accountability standards for this school year.
“Marlin ISD agrees that in the event it receives a final 2016 academic accountability rating of Improvement Required or a final 2015-16 financial accountability rating of Substandard Achievement, the commissioner (of education) will assign an accreditation status of Not Accredited-Revoked to Marlin ISD and order its closure,” state reports say.
During Tuesday’s board of trustees meeting, the board unanimously accepted the abatement agreement offered from the Texas Education Agency requiring the district to meet state academic and financial standards in order to keep the board intact after the end of the school year.
If the district fails the preliminary accountability ratings — normally released around August — the board will be replaced by a state-appointed board of managers.
If the district fails the final ratings traditionally released in October, the district will be closed, according to state reports.
Superintendent Michael Seabolt said he and the Marlin community are grateful for the opportunity to improve their scores, but it won’t make the process any easier.
Seabolt said it is possible that teachers could start leaving the district early with the threat to their jobs looming over them. The district employs about 180 people, and about 100 of them are educators.
“That’s the problem with this process of accountability. . . . When you start the hammer approach, you start the quicksand process,” Seabolt said. “The problem with quicksand is the more you struggle, the more you go down. And so it’s going to make it harder. It wasn’t easy anyway. So, it’s going to be harder to keep teachers. It’s going to be harder to recruit teachers. Nothing about this process has made it easier.”
The abatement agreement was received from the TEA attorneys last week and was reviewed by the district’s lawyers before being presented to the board.
“My understanding is that it’s take it or leave it,” board vice president Steve Johnson said.
Trustee Pat Hollins admonished the administration during Tuesday’s meeting, saying she doesn’t think the reports about the campuses submitted to the board are an accurate depiction of the district’s health.
“The reports are rosy, rosy, rosy,” Hollins said. “This is not a rosy situation that we’re in. I’d like to see some of the challenges that you’re facing in the report.”
The state notified Marlin ISD in September that the district would be closed for failing state accountability standards four years in a row if the administration didn’t show it was taking adequate steps to improve the academic standing.
State law requires all districts that fail state financial or academic accountability standards for four consecutive years to be closed.
The district appealed to the state, and board President Roger Nutt, Superintendent Michael Seabolt, Trustee Debra Levels-McDavid and multiple community members attended an informal review in October to outline the efforts the district and community were taking to reverse the district’s academic standing.
Commissioner of Education Michael Williams also visited Marlin Primary Academy and Marlin High School to get a firsthand look at the work being done at the schools.
The abatement agreement states that the commissioner has not made a final decision regarding his review.
“At this time, the parties agree that it would be appropriate to abate the informal review process until preliminary academic and financial accountability ratings are released by the Agency,” the agreement states.