March 31, 2017

Marlin ISD, slouching further toward Gomorrah

About 18 months after I wrote my last major post about the beleaguered school district, including how its previous superintendent may have turd-polished some of his accomplishments then cut and run before the house of cards collapsed (maybe other small-district superintendents do this too and this is why they move every three years) the current holder of the job is how holding a bag of ever-thinner old wineskin without any new win to fill it.

Michael Seabolt is moving most the district's special ed program back to a county co-op, less than five years after the district pretty much left the co-op, among other things. He's also putting some staff on mandatory paid leave because the state-appointed board of managers won't let him fire them. He's trying to caulk a $1 million deficit that surely won't be helped by the Texas Legislature's next budget.

In turn, that's because the last locally-elected board bumped teacher salaries by up to $15K in early 2016 as a recruiting / retention incentive. (Or other things.)  I mean, $50K to teach in Marlin? Why not give Seabolt money to buy some Glocks instead? Would be about as effective.  Would-be new teachers know salary scales and would smell desperation of some sort from a mile away. Seriously, you're going to tell a teacher: "We're paying you $10K more than Waco," and they're going to look around at the housing stock and streets in Marlin and tell themselves, "I don't know exactly what the hell is up, but something has to be up."

That said, how Seabolt has handled the paid leave situation, and some apparent friction with the president of the state-appointed board (which is still local residents) may mean that he did his own degree of turd-polishing with the reporter who was with the Waco Trib at the time of my last blog post. (Said reporter has now gone to the dark side, doing PR for the Harmony charter school chain.)

Survey says? Seabolt's looking for a new job and takes any position offered this summer that's not a totally desperate move. That's even though he has a three-year contract extension. After all, despite his bright talk, the district remains under the state gun on standardized test scores and other assessment.

Survey also says that the Waco Trib probably focuses this much effort on Marlin ISD because it's easy hard news to sell in Waco, just like the Rio Grande Sun, in Española, New Mexico, perversely overhypes (IMO) that city's own drug problem to sell extra papers at rack and store dealers in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, which likely are maintained for just that reason.

I mean, a 9-month-old story about a possible buyer for the old Falls Hotel and former Marlin VA hospital is the only positive story about anything in Falls County, other than a submission piece about Marlin VFD, in more than a year.

And, that, folks, is why I use a cookie-blocking extension like Ghostery, as well as AdBlock Plus. And, no, Waco Trib, if you paywalled and the paywall was hard enough I couldn't beat it, I wouldn't subscribe.

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Sidebar: Marlin isn't the only central Texas school district in hot water, either. TEA Commissioner Mike Morath wants to put Hearne under state management due to board-superintendent squabbles mixed with its own academic struggles.

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