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Watkins leading LMISD progress


Since May 2013, La Marque independent school district superintendent Terri Watkins and the district’s board of trustees have achieved many things.
We have met the academic standards set by Texas’ education agency and raised our fund balance from $400,000 to about $4,300,000. Yes, that is million. However, education commissioner Michael Williams changed the accounting criteria after we filed our data for the financial integrity rating system of Texas, causing failure in our FIRST rating.
We have developed a good relationship with La Marque city council, which had not been the case for many years.
Many people think this is the “same old school board”, but I would like to tell everyone about one of our new members, Richard Hooker, a renowned retired University Of Houston education professor. Some of the funding formulas that he developed are still being used by the state in certain areas. He has trained superintendents and school boards, has led doctoral committees and has experience in almost every other facet in education.
Every time I attend an education function with Dr Hooker, he is recognized by school officials.  When I met former education commissioner Mike Moses at a chamber-of-commerce function, he asked about Hooker. They have been friends for many years.
When we hired Watkins, Hooker’s comments were that she was one of the best candidates he had ever interviewed. Since her appointment, Watkins has brought diverse qualified people to her team. They include a very well respected Marcia McMahon for curriculum, who has previously worked with the state’s education region IV. For human resources, the superintendent hired Antonio Corrales, who is bilingual and gained an academic doctorate in May.
Whenever I have asked Hooker if we are on the right track, functioning well as a board and doing what needs to be done, without fail, he says yes. I once asked if Nakisha Paul is doing a good job as president of the trustees and his answer was yes. Recently, she completed master trustee training, which takes a year of hard work.
Are we where we want to be yet? No, but we are making progress and will continue to do so. The primary driver of this improvement has been superintendent Watkins, who last year was honored from outside the district for her work in its recovery.
My wife and I moved to La Marque eight years ago and we love the community and most of its people. Kerry worked in the school district’s central office for two years but left in 2009 because of the previous administration’s poor management.
Am I frustrated by the people who perpetuate the myth that this is the same old school board?  Am I frustrated that people say this is the same old LMISD? You’d better believe it. No one who looks at the progress we have made since 2013 can deny that we are moving forward in the right direction.
La Marque ISD has met the academic TEA standard and we have 94 days of fund balance, proving our mantra “LMISD – where learning matters!”
Terry Pettijohn is a member of the board of trustees of La Marque independent school district.

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