New managers appointed to BISD board, another exits

Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath announced Friday, Aug. 11, the appointment of two new members to the Beaumont Independent School District (BISD) Board of Managers. The seven-member board was reduced by the resignation of Dr. Jimmy Simmons, Lenny Caballero and Jack Carroll last month.

“Over the past three years, the members of the Beaumont ISD Board of Managers have maintained a strong commitment to improving outcomes for all students throughout the district,” Morath said. “I am confident that Angela Corbin Bransford and Mitch Templeton share that commitment and will work to strengthen the public schools in their community.”

The two additions to the board, both local stakeholders, will be sworn into office at the next Board of Managers meeting Thursday, Aug. 17. The two will join current members Joe Domino (board president), A.B. Bernard, Vernice Monroe and Robert Turner.

However, Turner will not be serving on the board past this next meeting, according to the TEA.

“July 25, 2017, Turner submitted a letter notifying the commissioner of his plans to step down from the Board of Managers effective Aug. 31,” TEA spokesperson DeEtta Culbertson reported. “Commissioner Morath plans to announce two additional appointments to the Board of Managers by the end of the year. The two appointments will maintain the Beaumont ISD Board of Managers as a seven-member board.”

The Texas Education Code requires the commissioner to provide members of an elected board of trustees whose authority has been suspended by an appointed board of managers with training in effective leadership strategies before a transition from an appointed board to an elected board can begin, Culbertson offered to explain why the trustees voters elected in May will not be seated at this time.

“In the coming months, TEA staff will schedule a Lone Star Governance training session for members of the elected Beaumont ISD Board of Trustees,” she further reported. “Lone Star Governance training will provide members of the elected Board of Trustees with a solid foundation for success in the district. The training will also focus on continuing and strengthening the successful practices and work witnessed during the tenure of the Board of Managers. Once the training is successfully completed, the transition to the elected board can begin. The Commissioner must formally initiate this process.”

Culbertson praised the work of the installed Board of Managers for their role in assisting the district in recovering from issues noted when the state took control of the local school district’s governance more than three years ago. The Beaumont ISD has had an appointed Board of Managers since 2014 when then-Commissioner of Education

Michael Williams decided to suspend the local school district’s elected Board of Trustees following TEA investigations into various BISD special education, finance and governance issues.

“Thanks to the work of the current Board of Managers,” Culbertson reported, “Beaumont ISD earned a B (or Above Standard Achievement) in the most recent preliminary financial accountability ratings released by TEA. It marked the first time in years that the district had earned a successful rating under the School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST), which is designed to encourage public schools to better manage their financial resources to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes.”