Under the state's accountability system on an A through F scale, ECISD was rated a D and it has eight campuses on improvement required. The D grade still means ECISD met standard.
Blackshear Elementary Magnet,
Blackshear is in its fourth year of IR and
The district will appeal the
Nelson replaces retiring Superintendent
Nelson said one of the primary needs is filling about 275 teacher openings.
Most teachers, he said, are being hired through alternative certification programs, some of which are good and some not as good.
"That means that it's really incumbent upon the district to spend a lot of time in that first year to have a new teacher mentoring them and helping them get their feet on the ground," Nelson said.
When he was involved with a teacher preparation collaborative, Nelson said they found the turnover rate in the first year or two is "pretty high," especially for those who don't feel well prepared.
He noted that teaching is difficult, and often, classroom management is an issue.
"We have a challenge finding, hiring and keeping really high-quality teachers. The teaching staff that we have, I'm told, is excellent. We just don't have enough of them," he added.
The business community and some of the big oil companies, he said, are willing to help out, but they need a plan.
"I think we need to improve the grow-your-own (initiatives). It's much easier to have somebody stay here who is from here," Nelson said.
Additionally, if the tax ratification election passes, the pay rates for teachers will be higher.
The election was called by the board because voter approval is needed to raise the tax rate to the state cap of
The proposed rate is
Nelson said he met with ECISD's curriculum and instruction team and was pleased with the direction things are going. He said there will be more consistency in what's being taught at the elementary schools.
"They seem to be getting good buy-in on the campus. The principals understand the importance of this," Nelson said.
He added that a lot of the problems seen in the middle schools are because students don't read very well and that is exacerbated throughout the district.
Nelson facilitated a curriculum audit by
The foundation also commissioned a student performance analysis conducted by independent consultant
"The teachers we've heard from, especially the ones interviewed by WLK, talked about they had a lot of materials but they didn't have a plan and they didn't know how to build a plan that would allow them to utilize those things effectively," Nelson said.
Nelson has also talked to
"I really care about the data stuff. It tells you a lot, and so I gave her some ways I want her to dig deep into it," Nelson said.
When his first day comes up this week, Nelson said Macias will have the material he wants ready so they can begin going through each campus, concentrating on the bottom half of performers.
He wants to make sure schools are using the information to pinpoint which students have the most difficulty, what that difficulty is and what tools the teachers have -- or need -- to address those difficulties.
"But we'll also be doing that at the middle schools. I just needed to know more about why are they where they are. Is it a reading problem? Is it a math problem? Is it a combination? Is it a growth (issue)?" Nelson said.
Now 68, Nelson moved to
It was 19 years ago this month that he left
"You can tell I'm excited about this. I really am. It's been a while since I've been in a leadership role, ever since I left AVID. I like to be around smart people who want to do good things," Nelson said.
AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination and is a college preparation program for at-risk and middle-of-the-pack students.
Because of his experience, Nelson said he "can probably bring some things to bear that they didn't have access to before. At least that's the hope."
He added that he has been friends with Crowe since he was superintendent in
"I have his phone number and he has mine. I'm sure I'll be calling him," Nelson said.
Nelson said his job is to help ECISD get from where it is to having a "really high-quality superintendent on board and hopefully the community will pass a TRE and hopefully we'll make some improvements in some of the academic stuff ...," Nelson said.
While he doesn't want to stay any longer than his nine-month,
Although he has lots of contacts, Nelson said the board should still hire a search firm.
"If come April, May, they haven't been able to make a selection, I'm not going to walk away. But it'd be just a month-to-month kind of thing. I promised a lot of people, including my wife, that this would not be a permanent thing. But she knows we won't walk away either and she's very supportive of this. I'm to the point where I'm not ready to quit working, but I can't give them five or 10 years," Nelson said.
He said he thinks he can bring ECISD ideas and strategies that will allow the schools to work better and perform at a higher level.
"I've seen that happen. I've been part of that happening in
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