Conservator may stay in Natalia ISD after change to exit criteria

TEA Conservator Dr. Sharon Doughty warned the Natalia ISD Board of Trustees of the possibility of their replacement by an appointed Board of Managers during the monthly Board meeting held last Monday, Dec. 10.
Doughty, who was named Conservator this summer after initially being assigned to the district as a monitor on April 4, informed the Board that new Director of Governance Dr. Jason Hewitt had changed the parameters of one of the criteria for her departure from the district – instead of NISD campuses and the district as a whole receiving an academic accountability rating of at least a D, they must now earn at least a C.
“Now that the exit criteria for academic performance has changed from a D to a C, I’m not sure I’m going to be able to leave in August 2019,” Doughty said.
In addition to the academic accountability rating, Doughty’s departure is contingent upon the district receiving a Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) rating of C or better; the Board engaging in research-based governance practices and earning at least 45 points in governance scoring in back-to-back reports to the TEA, and following all Texas school policies, rules, and laws.
According to Doughty, Hewitt said that once a conservator has been in a district for a year, Commissioner of Education Mike Morath begins to look at making major changes, which includes but is not limited to suspending the power of the Board of Trustees and appointing a Board of Managers.
“[The TEA] is looking at Natalia,” Doughty said. “They’re watching. They read my reports with a fine-toothed comb. They have ears to the ground and they talk to everybody.”
“It is imperative that Natalia ISD raise levels of student achievement substantially this year. Send a message.”
The Board has been working with Region 20’s Dee Ann Drummond and former Devine ISD Superintendent and private leadership coach Linda McAnelly on learning and implementing Lone Star Governance (LSG), a TEA training initiative intended to teach school boards to focus on improving student outcomes. Earning 45 points in LSG scoring in back-to-back reports to the TEA is one of the criteria for Doughty’s departure.
Doughty recommended that instead of the baseline of 45 points, the Board focus on earning 60 points in order to show the TEA that there is a sense of urgency about improving the Board and student outcomes across the district.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer