Year in review: Schools take in new faces, new directions

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DRC file photo/Al Key
Jeffrey Snider, left, chairman of vocal studies at the University of North Texas, speaks at the Murchison Performing Arts Center about some famous alumni during the unveiling of UNT’s strategic plan Feb. 13.

It was a year of farewells, transitions and openings for public schools and higher education institutions in northern Denton County in 2012.

 

Braswell retires from Denton ISD

After serving 14 years as superintendent of Denton public schools, Ray Braswell announced his retirement in May, citing his desire to spend more time with family.

Throughout his 33-year career with the Denton school district, Braswell served as a science teacher, interim and associate superintendent, executive director of policy, planning and evaluation, executive director of research and development, director of secondary education, and associate and assistant principal at Denton High School.

Under his leadership as superintendent, the district passed four bond elections totaling $691 million; doubled in population, opening 20 schools and four district facilities; opened the LaGrone Advanced Technology Complex; and was named a recognized school district by the Texas Education Agency on three occasions.

 

Denton ISD taps Wilson

On May 8, the same night Braswell announced his retirement and trustees accepted it, the school board named Jamie Wilson, the district’s deputy superintendent, its sole finalist to succeed Braswell.

The job for superintendent was posted for applicants May 10 and Wilson applied. Ten people applied for the position, but on June 12, the school board officially named Wilson the district’s superintendent. By law, the school board was required to wait 21 days before officially offering Wilson the job.

He officially began work as superintendent July 1.

Wilson has worked for the district since 2005 and has served as assistant superintendent for academic programs for secondary schools in addition to deputy superintendent.

With Wilson at the helm, there was some restructuring of central administrative roles in July, including the naming of Vicki Sargent as director of school leadership and David Hicks as executive director of secondary academic programs. Barry Fox was named director of instructional technology, replacing Robert Bostic, who in June was named the district’s assistant superintendent for academic programs.

 

Tax increase in Argyle ISD

In September, voters in Argyle approved a 6-cent maintenance and operations tax rate increase.

The tax ratification, which passed with more than three-fourths of the vote, will allow the district to balance the budget for the current school year, officials have said. Without the rate increase, the district faced a deficit of more than half a million dollars and major cuts for the next school year.

In August, the district adopted an overall $1.48 per $100 valuation property tax rate, which included the 6-cent maintenance and operations increase and a 4-cent decrease to the interest and sinking tax rate, which funds the district’s debt payments. Essentially, the overall tax rate for the current fiscal year is a 2-cent increase from the 2011-12 fiscal year.

 

Retirements, replacements

In August, Selwyn College Preparatory School announced that Karen Morris, the teacher education department chairwoman at North Central Texas College in Corinth, would be its next head of school.

Morris, who replaced Connie Miller, officially began her new duties Oct. 1.

In preparation for his retirement, Aubrey school district Superintendent James Monaco announced in August he would scale back his workdays.

The Aubrey school board promoted Debby Sanders, assistant superintendent, and Terrie McNabb, director of special programs, to deputy superintendent and assistant superintendent, respectively, in the transition. Monaco has served as Aubrey superintendent since 1985.

On Dec. 12, Krum Superintendent Mike Davis announced his retirement and tendered his resignation to the school board. His last day on the job is Jan. 28.

Davis said eyesight problems influenced his decision to retire. He has served as Krum superintendent since 2008. The Krum school board plans to begin the search for Davis’ successor after designating an interim superintendent Jan.16.

 

Stuart plans retirement

Texas Woman’s University ended the year with a big announcement: Chancellor and President Ann Stuart will be retiring. She will remain with the university for a year to give regents time to find a successor.

Stuart has been the chancellor and president of TWU since 1999, and under her leadership, enrollment has grown and new facilities have been added to each of the university’s three campuses.

 

UNT regents fire Ransom

Just before Christmas, the the University of North Texas Board of Regents held a special meeting to fire Scott Ransom, president of the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth.

Chancellor Lee Jackson said a breakdown of communication, the end of trust and the end of collaboration on some key issues led to Ransom’s termination. A spokesperson for Ransom said he would be appealing the process.

Regent Michael Williams was named interim president.

 

UNT restructures HR

The UNT system unified its human resources department in May to improve services, combining human resources for all three campuses.

The system had complaints that its support services hadn’t kept up with growth, Chancellor Jackson said at the time. The change was not expected to affect many system and campus employees.

One goal of the reorganization was to bring the department into the digital realm, eventually transitioning to a paperless department.

Allen Clemson was hired as director of the department.

 

TWU housing

Along with the union fee, TWU also decided not to vote on moving forward with new residence halls, which would help the university keep up with its growing enrollment.

Freshmen and sophomores are required to live on campus, and TWU has found itself with a housing shortage.

To keep up with demand, TWU leased up to 100 rooms from Quality Inn and Suites on Dallas Drive this fall. Last year, TWU leased three apartment complexes near campus.

 

UNT’s new brand, plan

After rolling out a new image and five-year strategic plan in February, UNT spent the rest of the year promoting its four bold goals.

“A Green Light to Greatness” became the university’s new tagline, which was established along with a new look for the logo with the help of Sullivan Perkins, a firm hired over the summer under a one-year, $140,000 contract.

The four goals of UNT’s new strategic plan include providing the best undergraduate educational experience in Texas, becoming a top research institution, running an effective business and expanding its outreach to the community and the North Texas region.

 

New unions

Students from both UNT and TWU voted to increase the union fees at each of the universities.

UNT students voted in April to increase the union fee to $115 to pay for a new facility. The increased fee will go into effect in fall 2014.

But as the year came to close, UNT officials told the Board of Regents that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board didn’t approve the university’s request in October to move forward with the project.

Officials were planning to make adjustments to the application and met with the coordinating board again in December to decide how to move forward. The university plans to begin work on the project in the summer of 2013.

TWU students voted in October to increase the student union fee.

The union fee must be approved by the Legislature before TWU can move forward with the project, but the item was removed from the Board of Regents’ November meeting.

In light of recent proposals from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, TWU has decided to pause, consider, study and then recommend the items to the regents, said Stuart, the chancellor and president.

 

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is btabor@dentonrc.com.

RACHEL MEHLHAFF can be reached at 940-566-6889. Her e-mail address is rmehlhaff@dentonrc.com.


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