Trustees at Monday’s Joshua ISD board meeting said they were so pleased with new Superintendent Fran Marek’s performance that they spent less than 30 minutes discussing her contract extension.
Marek took over in June for former JISD Superintendent Ray Dane, who served as head of the district for a decade before retiring to care for his elderly mother.
“He retired for the right reasons,” said board President Ronnie Galbreath on Tuesday. “He was really needed at home. That worked well for him and we certainly miss him, but he thinks a lot of Joshua and kind of groomed Fran to take over, so it’s been a seamless transition.”
Among the positives were Marek’s unmatched organizational skills, school security and several months worth of operating expenses in the fund balance, Galbreath said.
Marek said she was pleased to have the board extend her contract even before she spent a full year as superintendent.
“I love what I do,” she said. “I love this district and I am looking forward to the future and great things for this district. We have a great staff that works very hard and is very committed.”
Marek began her teaching career in JISD more than 20 years ago. She served as a teacher and in several different facets of administration before being named deputy superintendent and finally, the lone finalist for the superintendency in March.
“She’s done a great job and we are fortunate to have her,” Galbreath said.
Marek said plans for 2013 include working on JISD’s three main goals: security and safety, academic improvement and being effective and efficient with resources.
“School safety is always huge and it’s even more so now because of the tragedy [at Sandy Hook Elementary School] that occurred in December,” she said. “We were already looking at our emergency procedures and areas for improvement.”
The district employs a buzzer entry system at its schools, which is something that other districts in the area have recently discussed adding. However, there has been no talk of allowing staff to carry concealed handguns, which Cleburne ISD discussed at a board meeting on Tuesday.
In terms of academics, Marek said, students are continuing to improve, despite the Texas Education Agency having yet to release the accountability rating system for the new State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness.
“We are constantly monitoring academics,” she said. “We’re continually benchmarking, improving and providing rigorous instruction. We’re waiting for the state to tell us about the accountability system so we’re kind of in that limbo stage right now, but not in a limbo stage of work.”
Marek, however grateful for her contract extension, said she could not take all the credit for JISD’s success. She said the teachers and staff from top to bottom deserve appreciation for their hard work.
“We have a great board too,” she said. “We are very, very lucky and very blessed to have the school board that we have. They are committed to focusing on what matters in this district and making the decision to continue moving forward.”