A. Marcus Nelson

Waco ISD Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson greets J.H. Hines Elementary School students on the first day of this school year.

Superintendent A. Marcus Nelson is signed on to stay with Waco Independent School District through at least June 2023.

The school board voted Thursday night to extend his five-year contract by one year, as part of its annual evaluation of the superintendent’s performance. The board spent about an hour and a half in closed session discussing the matter and Nelson’s duties and responsibilities. Nelson makes $272,000 annually.

Though Nelson has five more months before he completes his first year in the district, the board typically does superintendent evaluations in January. Board President Pat Atkins said he has been pleased with Nelson’s work so far.

“I really do appreciate the sense of team you’ve created among your cabinet,” Atkins told Nelson before the vote on the extension. “And I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your continuous effort at community outreach.”

Nelson inherited several low-performing schools and has made getting those schools back on track his top priority . In the past several months, he has actively engaged in community meetings about the issue and has pushed his staff to create more family and community engagement opportunities.

The community meetings followed a warning from the state about the possibility of five school closures. The meetings spurred strong conversation from residents, politicians and parents about how to save the campuses that have failed state academic ratings for at least five consecutive years.

That effort also increased volunteerism within the district, and officials are considering creating an in-district charter system partnership with the collaborative nonprofit Prosper Waco. The partnership would aim to coordinate wrap-around services with other nonprofits if the five schools fail state ratings again in May.

Trustees are expected to vote on the possible partnership Jan. 25, and the plan will then be sent to the state for approval by March 1. If the schools pass this year, the plan would not be necessary, Nelson has said.

Waco ISD’s family engagement efforts will continue next week with events dedicated to informing parents and students about college readiness, starting with an alumni college fair from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Waco and University high schools.

“Just before the board voted, I just want to thank you for the opportunity to visit in closed session,” Nelson said Thursday night. “I also wanted to acknowledge my hard-working and dedicated cabinet, who has been here through the meeting and is interested in all the feedback we’ve received to continue to move forward.”

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