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Trustees, parents push back after staffing changes

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By LPR Staff

Editor/POST-REGISTER

 

In the wee hours of Wednesday morning, the Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees entered a vote to strip the hiring power granted recently to Lockhart ISD Superintendent Rolando “Rudy” Trevino.

The vote, which came after nearly three hours of Executive Session discussion, saw five members of the board

choose to put the power for hiring contractual employees back in the hands of the Board, rather than under the sole discretion of the superintendent. A litany of concerns from members of the public, whether via telephone or social media, or at Tuesday evening’s meeting, was likely the trigger that pushed the vote forward.

“The community wants to know why good teachers are being let go,” said Kriselle Jaimes, one of several individuals who spoke about recent staffing reassignments. “Ms. Evans, Ms. Guillory, Ms. Eubank. Why are they being let go or transferred to other campuses?”

In recent weeks, the assistant principal from Bluebonnet Elementary, the principal from Lockhart High School, the Human Resources Director and the Head Baseball Coach have been reassigned. While others from within the District have been promoted to fill their shoes, others have been dismissed outright. The concerns came to a head on Tuesday, when a standing-room-only crowd approached the Trustees, asking that the staffing decisions be reviewed and, if possible, overturned.

LHS Baseball players Nick and Aaron Strey came forward to question the decision to remove Head Coach Gene Salazar, and the timing of that decision.

“We play ball all year, and have local business sponsors and alumni sponsors. We feel that the community is behind us, win or lose,” the Streys said. “We didn’t understand why. Why now? How can a person who has never seen regular season progress, or a game, make this decision? We don’t believe it when they say ‘this is about the kids.”’ Please reinstate him.”

LHS parent Rhonda Koehler spoke on behalf of recently-reassigned LHS Principal Monica Guillory.

“She is just ‘not here,’” Koehler said. “I don’t know if you can find another principal that cares as much… she’s a positive influence on these kids. The principal plays an important role in that positive influence that they don’t get elsewhere, and I think it’s imperative that Mrs. Guillory is here with our kids.”

Though the Trustees, during their public comments at the end of the meeting, expressed to the community that their concerns were not falling ondeaf ears, and they did make the decision to take back hiring authority from Trevino, it was unclear what, if anything, the Trustees could do to counteract the decisions at this point.

The Board did split on the vote, with Jon Reyes and Michael Wright standing against bringing hiring authority back under the Board’s purview.

In other business, the Trustees saw a lengthy presentation regarding four options for possible construction of the new elementary school approved under last May’s sweeping bond project.

After reviewing four possible options that had been proposed by a team of stakeholders working on the project, the Board opted to move forward on a conceptual drawing that allows for a two-story building, with the lower grades on the first floor and the older children upstairs.

Conceptual design sketches will be available later this week at www.post-register.com.

The Board also heard a presentation from the National Hispanic Institute, a Maxwell-based education and training organization that seeks to build a partnership with LISD for the betterment of the students.

Recently, Trevino approached the Board to ask for approval for the District to pay student tuition for up to 20 students to attend either the NHI College World Series, or the Lorenzo de Zavala Great Debate program, both international programs gearing participants for college readiness. Before making the decision for funding, however, the Trustees asked to hear more information about NHI.

NHI Founder and President Ernesto Nieto approached the Board to discuss the programs and the hopes for the partnership with LISD. However, the proposal was met with resistance from the Board, not because of the program, but because the funding options made available. If the Trustees had approved the funding as it was presented, the District, rather than the student, would be funding the students’ part of tuition for the events.

“We have other student organizations that are expected to fundraise in order to be able to go on these trips,” Trustee Tom Guyton said. “The Board has never approved for us to pay for that, and there’s always been an expectation that they are going to pay for it.”

Board President Carl Cisneros agreed, reminding his colleagues that the “fundraising aspect is to see that they are dedicated, significantly enough to say that they want to achieve it.”

Trustee Steve Johnson reminded the Board that other organizations, such as the American Legion, offer leadership programs but, there again, the students are expected to pay for their tuition, not the District.

“What do we do next year when the Legion comes next year and says, ‘we’ll pay half for these kids to go to Boys State or Girls State, and we want the District to pay for the other half?’” he said.

Trustee Jessica Neyman’s concerns came from the fact that several students have already applied for acceptance into the programs, with the pitch that they would be provided a no cost to the student.

“We have current applicants for a program that we’re supposed to approve tonight, and seven board members have been put in an unfortunate position because if we don’t approve this, who’s the bad guy?” she said. “We need to do things in a proper order and given information in a timely manner, and that’s how we will truly be working as a team.”

In the end, the Trustees opted not take action on the funding at this time, but will bring the partnership back for further discussion when additional historical and organizational information is available.

The Lockhart ISD Board of Trustees routinely meets on the fourth Monday of each month at 6:30 p.m. in the Conference Center at Lockhart High School. The meetings are open to the public and webcast at www.lockhartisd.org.

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