San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

August 30th, 2010
Shafer surprises trustees with resignation as school district superintendent

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San Marcos CISD Superintendent Patty Shafer, in blue, is hugged by Trustee Kathy Hansen after she tendered her resignation Monday. Trustee Margie Villalpando is on the left. 

By SEAN BATURA
News Reporter

Downcast and stunned, San Marcos CISD trustees accepted Superintendent Patty Shafer’s resignation Monday night.

Upon emerging from a private room after 10 minutes of closed executive session, District 2 Trustee Margie Villalpando tearfully made a motion to accept Shafer’s resignation, which carried unanimously. District 1 Trustee David Castillo and District 3 Trustee Jesse Ponce were absent.

“I think all of us are quite surprised, and concerned and upset,” said District 4 Trustee Kathy Hansen just after Villalpando made the motion. “But we understand Dr. Shafer’s been with us for a while and been a superintendent for a while. This is going to be very hard … We’re going to miss you a lot.”

Shafer said she resigned to address family matters. Her last day with the district will be Dec. 31. Trustees may hire a consultant to aid them in the search for a new superintendent. Shafer said she will not participate in that search and will make no recommendations.

“It’s time to focus on my family more,” Shafer said. “There are a number of family situations that I need to attend to. Aging parents and other things in the family.”

After Villalpando made her motion, Shafer thanked trustees for the opportunity to help lead the district and expressed confidence they would find a strong leader to move the district forward.

“I just appreciate Dr. Shafer’s professionalism, and it’s been a real pleasure working with her,” said District 5 Trustee John Crowley. “And I’m sad to see her go, as well. But I certainly respect her decision and understand why she chose to move on to something different in her life. So I do wish you the best.”

Shafer said she hopes the district will have someone ready to replace her at the start of January for a smooth transition. Shafer said her successor faces some significant trials in the years ahead.

“There’s always challenges,” Shafer said. “Academically, there will continue to be. The accountability system gets more stringent both at the federal and the state level. Financially, there’s going to be challenges, it appears. And that’s — every district within the state’s going to have some of those challenges. So those will probably be the two biggest challenges that the successor has to work on.”

Shafer said difficulties the district faced when she became superintendent included the construction of new buildings, a campus realignment that involved shuffling students and classes to and from different schools, and maximizing the use of limited funds.

“This year, the fact that we made Recognized (in the Texas Education Agency school accountability rating system) is, I feel, a big accomplishment for the district, not just for myself,” Shafer said. “We’ve been able to keep the tax rate down and this year actually lower it two cents, which the board approved tonight. We finished a number of buildings, and the realignment that had to go along with that.”

Shafer said the district’s recent move to lay the groundwork for implementing high school academies is another achievement.

“I think that’s going to be an excellent, excellent direction for the district to go,” Shafer said.

Shafer became San Marcos CISD Superintendent in the spring of 2007. Before joining San Marcos CISD, Shafer served as the Deputy Director at the Region 4 Education Service Center (ESC) in Houston. Shafer served as superintendent of Liberty ISD from 2003 to 2005 and of Utopia ISD from 2001 to 2003. Before becoming a superintendent, Shafer was a math and English teacher, an elementary and secondary counselor, an elementary and middle school principal, and she served as Director of Instruction for Calhoun County ISD.

Shafer said she has been considering whether to resign “for a long time.” Shafer said her final decision was “very difficult” because of the relationships formed with what she said are “strong administrators” and “caring teachers” at San Marcos CISD, and she said it would be hard not to be part of the district’s team.

Asked whether she intends to play a future role in the education system in Texas, said Shafer: “I plan to. There’s some things already been suggested to me by different places. But I can’t imagine not doing something.”

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20 thoughts on “Shafer surprises trustees with resignation as school district superintendent

  1. Pingback: Shafer resigns as San Marcos CISD superintendent – Newstreamz San Marcos | AEC Jobs

  2. Wow. We are in for a lot of change here in San Marcos. We will have a new City Manager, new Mayor, new President of the Chamber of Commerce, new Superintendent, and some new Directors at City Hall.

  3. I hope we are VERY careful about selecting a new superintendent with the expertise (and proven track record) to continue moving our school district forward and perhaps hasten the pace of that move forward. At $172,000 per year, our superintendent’s salary is in the top 10% for the entire state, This puts us ahead of places like Alamo Heights, where 93% of Hispanic students graduate as do 84% of economically disadvantaged students. It puts us ahead of Friendswood, where they graduate 89% and 100%, respectively, and puts us within spitting distance of Allen ISD, where 94% of Hispanic students and 90% of economically disadvantaged students graduate.

    For reference, according to the last published TEA report, we graduate 69% of our Hispanic students and 67% of our economically disadvantaged students.

    Similarly, whereas we graduate 39% (!!!) of our students college-ready, in Alamo Heights, the number is 71%; in Friendswood, it is 76%; In Allen, it is 59%.

    The selection of the right superintendent could have a greater economic impact on the city than that of the city manager, or any one council/mayor election. It will also have immeasurable impact on the future of many of our citizens.

    WE CANNOT AFFORD TO SETTLE and given our incredibly high salary, we do not need to.

  4. Thanks for providing those stats Ted. It makes me wonder how we compare to those districts in overall % hispanic and % economically disadvantaged. I suspect that since (last I heard) all of our schools were “Title One”, meaning some higher level of “at risk” student population, that we are operating from a deficit. I’m sure any superintendent casting about for a new job would want to go where the deck is stacked in his or her favor with a large population of high-potential students. We don’t have that and thus will probably have to pay more to attract a top-flight candidate.

  5. And if there’s a silver lining to this story maybe it’s that having this issue in the news will inspire the kind of focus on this aspect of our community that was recently brought to bear on the Paso Robles issue.

  6. Bob, there are certainly a lot of factors to consider. Those districts have significantly lower percentages of Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students, although there is a bit of a chicken/egg thing with the economically disadvantaged angle – did the good jobs and money create the good schools and students, or did the good schools and students bring the jobs and the money?

    Either way, we have 71% Hispanic students and 62% economically disadvantaged, compared to Alamo Heights (the closest of the three), with 34% Hispanic and 17% economically disadvantaged.

    To me, that only further highlights the issue. This is not a small “subgroup” as some have liked to say, in various forums, and at the debates, etc. This *IS* our population. Our students are poor and they are Hispanic and we MUST find people who have a history of success in serving similar populations.

    As far as paying more is concerned, we’re already in the top 10%, but I would be happy to pay even more, if we had a reasonable expectation of significant improvements. Another $100k to a superstar superintendent is a drop in the bucket, compared to the tens (hundreds?) of millions we keep throwing around blindly.

  7. Allen, Alamo Heights, and Freindswood are all affluent suburbs. Comparing SMCISD to them is like camparing apples and oranges. How do we compare with Seguin, or Lockhart?

  8. Really Larry? I had no idea. Did you even read the comments? Whether there are other under-performing school districts has little bearing on whether we should expect more here. Is Navarro in an affluent suburb? They have 41% Hispanic students, 36% economically disadvantaged (again chicken/egg?) and graduate 82% and 83%, respectively. They also pay their superintendent about 33% less than we do.

    How about Bangs ISD? They have 49% economically disadvantaged students. Are they an affluent suburb? They graduate 92% of their Hispanic students and 78% of their economically disadvantaged students. They also pay their superintendent a little more than half what we pay.

    Not poor enough? Not brown enough? How about Los Fresnos ISD? 95% Hispanic. 79% economically disadvantaged. Are THEY an affluent suburb? They graduate 81% of their Hispanic students and 82% of their economically disadvantaged students.

    If mediocrity is acceptable to you, that’s your choice. Please try not to get in the way of those if us who would like to see our citizens do better.

  9. On a related note, one has to wonder how trustee attendance plays into our problems. I see that Mr. Castillo has missed 8 of 22 meetings, since January of 09. Mr Baen (now gone) missed nearly as many, before he was voted out. It would be nice to get some candidates who are actually interested in serving and addressing the challenges that face us. Frankly, I am not sure what the hell Mr. Castillo is thinking and I am a bit disgusted with myself for giving him my vote.

  10. I’ve been to Bangs, many times; please don’t compare SM to Bangs. For quality of life Bangs barelly beats out Eden

  11. The most recent numbers I could find on the TEA website were for the class of 2008. From those numbers, we have a lower high school completion rate than New Bruanfels HS, Seguin HS, Lockhart HS, Navarro HS, Wimberley HS, Canyon HS and Hays HS. I think those are the districts we touch. Additionally and from the same list, only Lockhart HS has a lower average SAT. It seems like San Marcos can do better on both sides of the student spectrum.

  12. That’s funny, because in Eden, they pay less than half what we pay, and they graduate 89% of their Hispanic students and 83% of their economically disadvantaged students.

    It should also be noted that none of these school districts, that I am aware of, have the benefit of a university down the street, with a stated goal of becoming “the largest public university in the state to be designated a Hispanic-serving institution.”

  13. John, you are correct, although the shortfall skews heavily to the poor, Hispanic side and over the years, this has been answered with shoulder-shrugs and borderline racist copouts about why certain “subgroups” just can’t be taught.

    I’m all for lifting the entire district. There is plenty of room for improvement.

  14. Perhaps a recruiting trip to Bangs is in order. A 90% pay raise and a substantial improvement in quality of life might be interesting to their superintendent. People have moved much farther, for much less.

    Failing that, maybe the fine superintendents at some of these schools could be enticed to mentor our trustees and new superintendent. I know many of us have an aversion to consultants, but in this case, I feel comfortable in saying that we could use some outside expertise, to help us find the answers.

  15. Ted, I am not trying to get in the way of anything. And I have noticed that since my post their have been comparisons between SMCISD and school district with more in common with us, and yes it is not good.

  16. Sorry for jumping on you. This has been a problem for a long time and I’m a little edgy about it. Our trustees have been making excuses for years and trying to sell us on the idea that there is a “perception problem,” so I’m a little trigger-happy when I think I’m hearing more of the same.

    Again, I apologize.

  17. Texas ranks its school districts annually and I believe it was in 2009 that San Marcos was rated #515 out of 835 school districts! Something is wrong and, not having children, in the system, I don’t know what it is. Wimberly ranks #123 and New Braunfels #177. One of the first questions asked when relocating to a new town is ‘how is the school system?’…. what can San Marcos say?! I heard they moved the 5th grade back to the elementary schools after being put in with middle school and apparently that helped.

    I would agree that alot of thought needs to be put into the replacement for the superintendent. For San Marcos to be a success, we have to know how to educate our children better. I guess a start would be to look at those successful districts and see what they are doing that we are not.

  18. I would love to see Dr. Shafer continue her good work here; she made incredible improvements to SMCISD in 3 1/2 years. That said, I wish her well in her new life.

  19. Whatever happened to “A Call to Excellence”

    “A Call to Excellence is a grass-roots, parent-led group of concerned parents, teachers, and residents that want to improve San Marcos schools.”

  20. Pingback: QUOTE CORNER - San Marcos Local News

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