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Board statement on superintendent change and future of Argyle ISD

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Brian Ratcliff
Brian Ratcliff

Today, Argyle ISD is considered the premier school district in the DFW Metroplex, and perhaps the entire state of Texas. Our accomplishments are first and foremost a result of the hard work and dedication of our students, who commit to being excellent, put in the hours of study and practice, take the tests, compete and win. Those students, however, could not do what they do without a talented and selfless group of teachers, coaches, administrators, and support staff, and the critical involvement of their parents.

We are who we are because of a unique and special partnership among all of us. The Board of Trustees recognizes and respects this partnership with our community, and is determined to protect and preserve that relationship.

In that light, we wanted to personally write and provide a more detailed explanation of our decision to not extend the contract of Superintendent Dr. Telena Wright beyond the two years remaining on her current agreement. This was not a simple decision, but rather one that the Board carefully deliberated over a long period of time. While there were several factors that ultimately led to our decision, we are limited in what we are allowed to discuss. This letter will hopefully convey the most relevant factors to the community.

Each of the six Trustees recognizes we are entering into uncharted waters with our district expected to double in size by 2022. To put that in context, we are expected to grow by an average of 340 new students per year over that time frame, and be required to almost double the size of our staff. To thrive, we must engage as many new families in six years as we have over the past couple of decades. The fact is, the next six years will be a vastly different challenge than the last six years – for all of us.

Our community desperately wants to preserve our identity as a high achieving, close knit, and small town family in the face of the potential chaos of this rapid expansion. As your Board, we believe our schools will be better served by a Superintendent with a high level of knowledge in dealing with the challenges of a fast growth district. At the same time, we need our next Superintendent to be equally as passionate about relationships and culture. This kind of unique makeup, experience and skill set should guide us with the forward thinking and strategic planning we need to maintain our tradition of excellence.

During her eight-year tenure, Dr. Wright has done an admirable job of managing our legacy of excellence – a tradition we hope will continue for generations to come. Our Board recognizes the accomplishments of the District under her direction, and we believe her legacy should be preserved and celebrated.

History is full of great leaders whose skill sets took their organization to a certain level, but in order to continue to grow or traverse difficult transitions, the organization required different leadership. It does not diminish the work and results of the initial leader but rather recognizes that, as an organization evolves, its needs at the highest level also change. We can simultaneously celebrate the success of our past and embrace and recognize the needs ahead of us.

Our foundation for the future is solid. We have some of the finest teachers, coaches, and arguably the best Band Director, Boy’s Athletic Director, and Girl’s Athletic Director in the state. We enjoy a phenomenal group of administrators, principals, assistant principals, and support staff. Our Education Foundation, Booster Clubs, and Youth Sports Association are second to none. On top of all that we have a dedicated and involved support base with parents and grandparents that bleed red and black.

While the Board does not respond to rumors, we do want to clarify a couple of items. First, the Board took no action on Dr. Wright’s contract which continues through the end of the 2018 school year. We only decided to not extend her contract beyond this time period. She will continue to lead our district as the Board conducts a thorough and deliberate search for a new Superintendent based on input from all stakeholders including parents, students, business leaders, teachers, and administrators. We will have clear criteria, and we will settle for nothing less than a perfect fit for AISD.

Second, the Board has followed all of the guidelines and requirements of confidentiality and has appropriately kept our discussions of an employee out of the public domain. Since the announcement, we have had one-on-one discussions with each Principal to clearly lay out what is written in this letter face to face, while also assuring them of the Board’s support and confidence in them, our teachers, and our support staff.

In conclusion, this Board maintains deep admiration and gratitude for our current leadership. But we also recognize the need to prepare now for a future filled with as many successes as the past two decades – and that will take a new Superintendent with the unique experience of managing fast growth and infusing our culture into a new generation of Eagles.

Our hope moving forward is that our community will support our decision and help us protect the tradition of excellence that each of us have worked so hard to maintain. We have an obligation to make sure the students of tomorrow have the same access to quality education as past generations of Argyle ISD Eagles.

Brian Ratcliff
President, AISD Board of Trustees
Argyle, TX

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  • SKILLZ

    -Don’t change horses midstream-

    Coming out of the great depression and through WWII, Franklin Delano Roosevelt successfully set the groundwork for our country to thrive. If we had decided to change our leadership in times of the unknown and conflict, what would have been the outcome? This same question can be applied to the controversial non-renewal of Dr. Telena Wright in Argyle ISD. With rapid growth approaching there are many psuedo-doomsday-preppers who are eternally worried that the current administration does not have the “skill set” to lead this district. History speaks for itself, and what this district has accomplished is amazing; everyone recognizes that. What some people do not recognize is why. People matter, students matter, and when the decisions made are with the student’s best interest in mind, the district will continue to raise the bar. One of my biggest concerns is the application of a business model on the function of our district. While there are many fiscal and operational similarities to the business world; teachers, administrators, and students are not disposable. Education is not a product, it is a cultivation of values and life experience. Speaking of experience, I would like everyone to think when they got thier first job with no experience. The people who thrive and succeed in society accumulate as much information as possible and surround themselves with experts. If you look at recent actions by Dr. Wright, she has done just that and deserves the support of the board and community to lead us into the unknown. To quote FDR, “we have nothing to fear but fear itself” and to change horses mid stride can potentially derail the success of AISD now and in the future. With an eventual need for another bond, the community needs to trust the board and thier intentions, and that starts with support of the person that drew them to this district in the first place. I urge you to vote for a school board candidate that will work to restore support for Dr. Telena Wright instead of tear her down.

  • AISD STRONG

    First and foremost, I need to say that I’m sending posting this anonymously. Over the past couple of months, the school board has thrown any trust we may have had in them out the window, and I cannot allow myself to reveal who I am. I hope everyone understands my justification for the secrecy. I can’t risk my career being destroyed in secret meetings because of my personal opinions of the way this district is handling this mess of a situation. All I am comfortable revealing is that I’m a proud long-time employee of the Argyle ISD.

    Unfortunately, the board’s secrecy continues with their latest statement to the press and it doesn’t reveal anything we haven’t already heard. I have reason to believe that this entire letter is simply to serve as “damage control”, rather than providing any real answers, but I digress.

    The major point that Mr. Ratcliff wants us to believe is that Dr. Wright is incapable of managing the incredible growth that is coming into our district. Unfortunately for Mr. Ratcliff, the facts do not support him in his cause. The district has been steadily growing since 2006, and the growth accelerated right before the 2009-2010 school year, during which Dr. Wright was our superintendent.

    Since 2009, the district has been a dominant player in the 3A (Now 4A) circuit. Our athletics, academics, and fine arts are in a league of their own as our kids continue to excel in all areas. This is reflected by the fact that our wonderful district is the proud owner of countless state championships and SIX lone star cups. It’s hard for me to say this without sounding snobby, but we are the envy of countless students, parents, and school districts from around the state. To throw that away like our board is doing is not only disrespectful to who we are as a district, but it’s just flat out reckless.

    I’m shocked at Mr. Ratcliff’s flippant disregard for the hard work Dr. Wright has put into our district by calling her leadership merely “admirable”… This alone demonstrates how out of touch Ratcliff and his cronies are with the reality behind this situation. I’m not going to waste your time by repeating the successes of the district over and over again, but the State Championships and Lone Star Cups speak for themselves. These successes would not be possible without great teachers, coaches (Including our Academic coaches!) and of course, great administrators. All of this success starts at the top with Dr. Wright. She attends athletic events, UIL events, academic meets, band concerts… The list goes on! Her tireless leadership is absolutely incredible!

    On a purely personal note, I’ve never met another superintendent like Dr. Wright. I don’t know ANY superintendents that spend as much time in the schools as Dr. Wright. On any given day, you’ll see her walking around our campuses, dropping into our classrooms to say hi and ask how we and the kids are doing, or even just stopping by to give us a birthday cookie. Yes, our superintendent cares enough about us to come into our classrooms to wish us a happy birthday and give us a cookie.

    I’m not here to tell you who to vote for, that’s a decision for you alone to make, but I sincerely hope that when you enter that polling booth, you take Dr. Wright’s record into account and support the candidates who support her and who support our kids.

    – A proud Argyle staff member

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