TISD superintendent, Dr. Charles Holloway, retires
By Abigail Allen
Tioga Superintendent Dr. Charles Holloway announced his immediate retirement to a crowd of about 100 people Wednesday evening at Tioga High School.
His comment came after he, Assistant Superintendent Josh Ballinger and the school board spent an hour and 20 minutes in an executive session with the district's attorney.
"It's time for a change, and I'm announcing my retirement immediately," Holloway said. "I'll help the district any way I can for the next three months through Dec. 31, but I promise you've got adequate people here to keep this thing going."
He added that he hopes his retirement will allow Tioga ISD to "go forward and get back to where they need to be."
Because the superintendent's position was not listed on the meeting agenda, the board could not take action on naming an interim superintendent at Wednesday's meeting.
The board will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Tioga High School regarding that decision.
Tioga ISD is in financial trouble and on the state's radar, board trustee Brandon Miller explained during a detailed explanation of the district's finances.
"Academically, Tioga is a premier school in the area and all of Texas," said Miller, who has a professional background in accounting. "… Financially, Tioga ISD is in poor shape and needs significant improvement. Tioga ISD being able to continue to operate as an accredited independent school district should be everyone's goal with keeping a high level of academics."
Tioga ISD has received a Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas rating of an F for two consecutive years, and it is likely to receive a third F rating before the issues can be corrected.
Over-projecting revenue while carrying high debt and payroll expenses have contributed heavily to the financial peril the district faces, Miller said, sharing a comparison to peer group school districts.
For four years, TISD has not met the projection for student population upon which the state funding is based, Miller said, which has resulted in the state "settling up" at the district's expense.
"The state will pay you for that 750, but for those 30 kids you were getting paid for and you didn't have, when they settle up, you've got to pay back for those 30 that you didn't have," he said.
The settle-up total for four years of overbudgeting will add up to $4,439,074, according to Miller's presentation.
Tioga's numbers when compared to a "peer group of districts—ISD’s with 490 to 1,432 students in Grayson, Cooke, Denton, Collin, and Dallas counties."
Debt per student, based on the calculations Miller presented, is $42,685, and the fund balance was the only negative one in the peer group Miller selected.
Blue Ridge ISD was the only district with a greater amount of long-term liabilities.
In total payroll, Tioga was third-highest behind Gunter and Valley View.
Tioga ranked highest in superintendent pay, and it was second to Muenster in athletic director pay.
TISD also was first in teaching staff cost per student.
Miller also took the chance to dispel something that has floated around TISD for years.
"Transfers do not cost the district more money," Miller said.
The state makes up for the amount that the local tax base does not cover. If the district had individual families pay more, it would offset the amount the state currently provides, not be a revenue generator for the district.
Actively working toward a solution might help keep Tioga independent, Miller added.
Sherry Gray, Jamie Chamberlain, Patty Wheeler and Laura Brown all made public comments regarding the district's financial issues.
Gray again brought concerns about Shawn Nesmith, the district's auditor, having previously served on the school board.
"I cannot think of any scenario in which a person who served many years on this board, voting on decisions that have
contributed to our current financial status, should now be the one to audit those decisions," she said.
She asked that the district's finances be accounted for as they would be for a business.
Wheeler called for the board members to be leaders in moving forward, and Brown asked the board to continue to value the academic programs the district offers and to focus cuts on other areas.
Chamberlain asked that the board lean on the community through committees and on neighboring districts for advice.
"My suggestion is that we contact neighboring school districts to find out how they improved their FIRST Rating by a letter grade or more in one year," she said, pointing to Gunter and Collinsville.
Board President Paul Rodarmer acknowledged the comments.
"I will say summarily that all of those things have been discussed and are being discussed," he said. "In the event that you don't know, we've appointed a finance committee—Mr. Rainey, Mr. Miller and Mr. Slay, and they are going to be working with some
fairly high talented consultants."