BROOKESMITH — The Brookesmith school district has fulfilled a state-ordered plan to overcome previous academic and financial shortfalls, and has been released from state conservatorship.
    That’s the word of superintendent Guy Birdwell, who is completing his first year on the job. The district met the requirements of the two-year plan early and was released from the state-appointed conservator on May 20 — nearly a year early, Birdwell said.
    “Ecstatic,” Birdwell said when asked his reaction.
    He said the district fulfilled the plan early by “sticking to our guns” in following the Texas Education Agency-ordered corrective action plan. The district increased its “rigor” and standards, and revoked the transfers of 23 students who weren’t meeting academic standards, Birdwell said.
     In early 2015, the TEA informed then-Superintendent Dr. Jay Smith and the rest of the district that the TEA planned to close the district on July 1, 2015. That was because of the previous academic and financial shortfalls.
    A short time later, the district asked to TEA to grant what the TEA calls an “informal review.” District personnel visited the TEA offices in Austin, showing the agency what the district had done since the shortfalls occurred. The TEA said the district could stay open under certain conditions.
    The agency offered the district a two-year agreement with conditions the Brookesmith district had to meet, and it appointed a conservator for the district.
    The district, the conservator and Region Service Center 15 personnel worked together to develop the corrective action plan — a way to “make sure that we are academically oriented in the correct direction, and function of all the stakeholders in the district is focused in the right direction,” Birdwell said earlier.
    The district went on to have an  “absolutely” positive relationship with the conservator, and “we are in tremendous shape right now,” Birdwell said.
    “ … It went just as planned.”
    The district finished the 2015-’16 school year with 167 students, and while he hopes to see a higher enrollment this fall, Birdwell emphasized that the Brookesmith district is not an alternative school for other school districts.
    “We’re a quality district that produces quality students,” Birdwell said. “Some people have the idea that ‘if a kid can’t make it (in another district), let’s send him out there.”