AUSTIN – Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced today that, following almost a year of work across the state, the Texas Rural Schools Task Force has released a report, Texas Rural Schools Task Force: Elevating Support for Texas Rural and Small Schools.
Rural school districts face many educational challenges unique to their size and region. Created by Commissioner Morath in 2016, the Texas Rural Schools Task Force was charged with identifying current challenges and best practices for rural school districts statewide.
“The work of the Texas Rural Schools Task Force brings new focus to the challenges faced by smaller districts across our state,” said Commissioner Morath. “But more than simply listing those challenges, superintendents have taken a thoughtful approach in exploring these issues and providing recommendations that can strengthen schools in our rural areas.”
The task force report highlights 12 recommendations specific to rural schools in the areas of teacher recruitment, teacher retention, resource allocation, use of technology, as well as parent and community engagement. The report and its recommendations have been shared with the Commissioner and legislative offices. The Texas Education Agency (TEA) is now mobilizing resources to incorporate the recommendations into the agency’s strategic operations and strengthen support provided to rural schools.
The Texas Rural Schools Task Force met four times in Austin, with additional regional forums in Abilene, Waco, Corpus Christi, Kilgore, Van Horn, Uvalde and Lubbock. Task force members were selected to participate based on outstanding student achievement and a willingness to innovate. The superintendents and school districts on the task force include:
- Bloomburg ISD – Brian Stroman (ESC Region 8)
- Bronte ISD – Tim Siler (ESC Region 15)
- Center Point ISD – Cody Newcomb (ESC Region 20)
- Channing ISD – Robert McLain (ESC Region 16)
- Cisco ISD – Kelly West (ESC Region 14)
- Community ISD – Roosevelt Nivens (ESC Region 10)
- Ezzell ISD – Lisa Berckenhoff, (ESC Region 3)
- Era ISD – Jeremy Thompson, (ESC Region 11)
- Flatonia ISD – Beverly Mikulenka (ESC Region 13)
- Floydada ISD – Gilbert Trevino (ESC Region 17)
- Fort Hancock ISD – Jose Franco (ESC Region 19)
- Mineola ISD – Kim Tunnell (ESC Region 7)
- Moody ISD – Gary Martel (ESC Region 12)
- Ricardo ISD – M.T. “Vita” Canales (ESC Region 2)
- Roma ISD – Carlos Guzman (ESC Region 1)
- Sabine Pass ISD – Kristi Heid (ESC Region 5)
- Seymour ISD – John Baker (ESC Region 9)
- Snook ISD – Brenda Krchnak (ESC Region 6)
- Stafford Municipal School District – Robert Bostic (ESC Region 4)
- Terlingua Common School District – Bobbie Jones (ESC Region 18)
According to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, Texas has more than 2,000 campuses classified as being in rural areas. Nationally, Texas has more schools in rural areas than any other state with more than 20 percent of campuses in rural areas.
The Elevating Support for Texas Rural and Small Schools report was written in collaboration between the Rural Schools Task Force, Texas Education Agency and Texas Comprehensive Center at American Institutes for Research in Austin. To learn more about the Texas Rural Schools Task Force and read the entire report, visit the Texas Education Agency website at http://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Educators/Educator_Initiatives_and_Performance/Rural_Schools_Task_Force/.