BROOKESMITH — The state has ordered the closure of the Brookesmith school district on July 1 because of financial and academic shortcomings in the previous years, but the district’s superintendent, Dr. Jay Smith, said the district is appealing the closure.
Based on phone conversations he’s had with the Texas Education Agency, Smith said, he’s confident the district will win the appeal and remain open.
“Well, we’re kind of in shock because we definitely did not expect any of this,” Smith said by phone Monday. Brookesmith has an enrollment of just under 200 students.
Smith released a copy of a Feb. 3 letter the district received from the TEA.
The district earned a 2014 rating of “Improvement Required” in the state’s academic accountability rating system, the letter states. Additionally, the district received financial accountability ratings of “Substandard Achievement” for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 school years.
“Those ratings … require me to assign the Brookesmith ISD a 2014-2015 accreditation status of ‘Not Accredited — Revoked’ and to close the district effective July 1, 2015,” Commissioner of Education Michael Williams wrote in the letter.
A district must be assigned the “Not Accredited — Revoked” status if it receives a financial rating of “Substandard achievement,” and academic rating of “Needs Improvement,” or any combination, for four consecutive years, the letter states.
The district may send a written request for an “informal review” by the TEA, and the deadline for sending that request is Tuesday, the letter states. Smith said he was working Monday on completing the request.
“I may make a final decision based solely on the written correspondence sent by the ISD,” Williams wrote in the letter.
Smith said when he because superintendent in 2011, the district had a negative fund balance of $191,444 and owed the TEA $153,299 because of overpayment in state funds. The following school year, Smith said, the district was able to get the fund balance to $35,827, but that wasn’t enough to avoid a “Substandard Achievement” financial rating.
In 2013, the district fund balance was $119,467, and it is currently $172,915, Smith said.
Smith said the district increased its enrollment and revenue by taking in transfer students, but that also caused the academic rating to fall last year.