Superintendents Are Doing A Fantastic Job At Managing Current Crisis; School Boards Reminded Of Their Roles

(Southside Light News)--Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath told school superintendents to be prepared for long-term school district closures. There has even been talk that some may potentially be closed through the end of the school year, especially in areas where the new coronavirus is spreading. 

TEA Commissioner Mike Morath said he will be leaving the decision up to local superintendents and that is a roll that our local superintendents are prepared for.  "If teachers and the lifeblood of our education system then superintendents are the heart," says Angela Banks, a public education advocate here in Texas says. "While some school board members might have educational background and experience, they are still lay leaders who often are just not up to speed on modern solutions, technology and rules. They must rely on their superintendents to properly do their job and not micromanage them from a bench." We spoke with the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) who seconded that opinion. "“By law and policy, the superintendent is the educational leader of the district, with the duty and authority to oversee all staff and instruction," TASB spokesperson Theresa Gage-Dieringer told the Southside Light. So far there seem to no real issues as far as online learning goes here locally and students and teachers seem to adapting well to the current world that we are all learning to cope with. This week Corpus Christi ISD began sending home student work packets and Flour Bluff ISD began some online education. Students, parents and educators seem to be doing just fine with the transition. When is it likely that schools could open back up? Like with everything else, that is the looming question. “By policy, the superintendent has the power to close and open schools,” Gage-Dieringer confirmed.

But beyond education, there is still work that needs to be done from a Board of Trustees level. Corpus Christi ISD routinely broadcasts their meeting for the public to see. Flour Bluff ISD does not. 

Just this week, CCISD held meetings online and took "virtual public comment" just as is directed by Governor Abbott back on March 16. 

While these might be difficult times legal experts, TASB and others believe that public trust, communication and transparency must continue to be strictly protected. 

Also, the question of school boards interfering with superintendents being able to make executive decisions, TASB says that they are keeping a close watch on it to make sure that school boards and their members stay fully compliant. 

“We are not aware of any governance problems related to the COVID disaster except for difficulty in conducting meetings, which we address in our memo on the Attorney General suspending parts of the Open Meetings Act," said TASB. But like with everything else, that could change at a moments notice and school boards had better know that their communities and regulators are keeping a close watch on how they conduct their public business.