By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Residents in Cleveland ISD have an opportunity to offer suggestions on the characteristics needed in the next superintendent. The survey, which asks participants to list the strengths and challenges of the district, is one step of a multi-step process that will ultimately determine a lone finalist for superintendent. The vacancy is expected to begin in early summer with the departure of outgoing superintendent, Dr. Darrell Myers, who is retiring after 33 years in education.
The district’s board of trustees has contracted with the Texas Association of School Boards to conduct the search and established a calendar that begins with community involvement sessions on Tuesday, Feb. 5, from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. The application deadline is Wednesday, Feb. 27. Applications will be reviewed by the board on Monday, March 4, and interviews will be held over three days, March 19-21. Follow-up interviews will take place on March 26-28.
After the pool of applicants is narrowed to 6-8 candidates, a subcommittee made up of board trustees will make site visits to the top candidates’ home school districts. This process is expected to conclude in time for a lone finalist to be named by Wednesday, April 3. After the mandatory 21-day waiting period, the district can expect to officially hire the new superintendent by April 25.
Myers has graciously agreed to remain with the district until his replacement is found. He believes the district is in a crucial point in its history with the rapid growth that has resulted from a population boom in the Plum Grove area.
“We have picked up 953 new students since May 31, 2018,” Myers said on Tuesday. That number is equivalent to roughly 32 classrooms.
“The growth is not happening in just one age group,” he said. “It’s spread out evenly among the campuses. For a while, we were picking up mostly elementary kids but now we are seeing them across the spectrum.”
What does that mean for UIL alignments in the future? Myers is not concerned about next year’s realignment and expects the district will remain as a 5A school, at least until the 2022 alignment.
“That one might put us in the 6A category,” he said of the 2022 alignment.
The growth has the school board already looking into another bond for new high school and middle school campuses in Plum Grove. The district, according to Myers, has the capacity for another $125 million in bonds, on top of the already $80 million and $35 million bonds the district has in place now for a high school expansion, new elementary campus in Plum Grove and expansions at Northside, Southside and Eastside campuses.
“We are going to have to have another high school. The board is going to vote on whether to call for another bond next Tuesday night. We’ve had a couple of building meetings with community members and got input from them based on our circumstances,” he said. “The consensus was to call for a bond. Anything we need would have to be built in Plum Grove because that’s where the growth is.”
An additional $125 million bond would put the district at the $0.50 per $100 valuation cap that is mandated by statute, Myers said.
“As for the bond, the board hasn’t decided on the amount. Our facilities committee thinks that instead of doing these bonds every couple of years, we should go out for a $250 million bond, but we can’t sell those bonds until we have the ability to pay for them,” he said. “Our current property tax value in the district is $1.2 billion. That is what gives us to seek an additional $125 million.”
The district is being good stewards with the bonds that are already in place, he added. Recently one bond was refinanced, resulting in a savings of roughly $2 million.
“One of the things the community needs to understand regarding the existing bonds we have. We have refinanced those bonds to a more favorable interest rate than what they originally sold for, which gave us the savings. Just because a bond says 30 years, that doesn’t mean you are stuck paying it out over 30 years. The sooner you pay them off, the less interest you accrue,” he said.
The next superintendent will not only have big shoes to fill, but they will need to be prepared to run to keep up with the district’s growth.
“Whoever gets the job will be very busy,” Myers said. “I am going to stay until the district gets someone in, so we can avoid having an interim superintendent. Right now, where we are at with growth, it wouldn’t be good for the district to have too many transitions.”
To participate in the community survey, go online to https://clevelandisd.org/31326?articleID=28837. The survey is available in English and Spanish and should only take a few minutes to complete. For more information, call Cleveland ISD’s administration office at 281-592-8717.