In a short videoconference meeting held Monday night, Southside Independent School District board members named a finalist to succeed their retiring superintendent and voted to delay a bond election scheduled for May 2.
Board members named Valley View ISD Superintendent Rolando Ramirez to replace Mark Eads, who announced last November he would retire from his position. Eads was hired in May 2016, before the State announced plans to intervene in the district, installing an appointed board of managers.
Officials with the Texas Education Agency told the Southside ISD community that the district would begin transitioning back to elected governance no later than May 2020 with a fully elected board slated to govern the district in May 2022.
Ramirez will work with the transitioning board if approved as Eads’ replacement. Texas law requires boards to wait at least 21 days before voting to hire a finalist.
The new superintendent would come from Valley View ISD, a Rio Grande Valley district slightly smaller than Southside that enrolled close to 4,500 students in 2018-19. The State graded the district an A on its 2019 report card.
Valley View ISD has demographics similar to that of Southside ISD, with a student body that is 92 percent economically disadvantaged. Close to two-thirds of students in Valley View are still learning English.
“The candidate is highly qualified and brings a background that I think is most suitable to the students and the community of Southside, and I pray that we made the right decision,” board member Velia Minjarez said. “I know that our staff will be receiving him with open arms and …. Mr. Eads is there to transition our new superintendent and help him in every which way possible.”
Eads’ retirement goes into effect June 30.
Managers also voted to delay the school district’s bond election, originally scheduled to take place May 2, until Nov. 3, because of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. Southside ISD campuses are closed through April 24 to prevent the spread of the virus, and students are expected to continue their lessons from home.
If approved, the district’s $64.7 million bond package will go toward building two new elementary schools to accommodate future enrollment growth, Eads said at a meeting in February. The first school would replace Pearce Elementary and require $30 million to build on land donated by Mission Del Lago, a master-planned residential community.
After the replacement for Pearce is built, the board would have discretion to use the remaining bond money to build a second elementary campus on land near a TJ Maxx distribution center.
On March 18, Gov. Greg Abbott announced that local elections on May 2 could be postponed until Nov. 3 because of coronavirus prevention measures. There are a number of other issues currently slated to be on the May ballot, including trustee elections for Alamo Colleges, North East ISD, and Southwest ISD as well as the election to reauthorize funding for Pre-K 4 SA.
Members of the Pre-K 4 SA board voted unanimously last week to recommend to City Council that the election be pushed to November.