Mike Bailey said he never attempted to shirk responsibility for his share of blame in the funding issues that resulted in a Texas Education Agency investigation of Cleburne ISD.

“I have never been one to walk away from responsibility,” he said Thursday. “I take responsibility for any errors I’ve made. I always have. You only want success, but anybody who has been in a position for 17 years, anybody who has been part of the decision-making process, is going to look back at some of the decisions they’ve made.

“One of the things I look back on is that I probably tend to take on more responsibilities than I should sometimes. Looking back, I wish I’d had more people around me to deal with some of the issues that were in the audit, so that we could have better addressed them. Anytime you go through a negative period like this, you have to do some self-evaluation. I’ve done that. I wish we’d had more eyes and bodies involved.”

As the district’s de facto business manager under former Superintendent Robert Damron, those responsibilities fell naturally to him over a period of years, he said.

“In any job, I think you pick up responsibilities as they come up. You look at the staff available to you and who has the expertise to do those jobs. Over 17 years, you keep picking up and picking up. You look up at the end of that time, and you have a pretty good load.”

Bailey resigned his position effective June 30, and the resignation was his idea, he said.

“I’ve always been of the firm commitment that I need to make the best decisions for me and my family,” Bailey said. “That’s always been the motivation for any decision I make. It’s with mixed emotions that I resigned. When you’re in a school environment, it’s really and truly a family. You have very strong ties. This was not an easy decision. This has been and always will be my favorite place to come.”

Superintendent Dr. Ronny Beard said Bailey will be missed.

“Mike Bailey has been a true and loyal servant, a leader in the community. Even those who have been critical of his actions, in some of the things that have come up in the federal audit and local audit, say Mike Bailey is a good guy. I’ve never had anybody say he’s not a good guy. He’s also going to be missed because he’s been the go-to guy here for a long time.”

Bailey had offered to step aside if Beard deemed such action appropriate, the superintendent said.

“From the first day I got here, he said, ‘Anytime I become a burden on you and your administration, I’ll resign.’ I asked him not to. I was going to be at a huge disadvantage without him here. He has provided everything I’ve asked of him and more. He’s helped me out in my transition.

“Now, it’s at a point where he and I agree that I can run this with the help of some outsiders. I can call him daily. He’s in here working with me on things when I need him. If I need him two years from now, I guarantee you Mike Bailey will be here for this school, and I appreciate that very much.”

Beard said he’s not interested in placing blame for the funding snafus.

“Mike’s workload was very large, and I’ve been here long enough to discover what some of the issues were that led to all the things that have been found out of compliance. The previous administration prided itself on operating lean and mean at the top with few people. I can tell you that probably contributed to the errors that were made. Mike was doing so much that he didn’t have time to go to the training.

“We work for one of the most complicated businesses in Cleburne and maybe Johnson County. We answer to more governmental entities with more regulations than any other employer of our size. You have to stay abreast of those changes, or you run the risk of being out of compliance.

“That’s what I see that happened. We didn’t have the folks here to run the school and stay abreast of the training and changes. We try to operate with as few administrators as we can, especially at the central office, but if you operate too lean, you’re putting the school district and community at risk.”

Bailey said he did not resign strictly because of fallout from the TEA investigation.

“In any job, you reach the point that you decide it’s time to make a change,” he said. “I reached that point in my job career. I’m looking at other opportunities in other districts as well as opportunities outside the school business.

“As I look back over the last 17 years, I can’t express how much I’ve enjoyed being part of CISD. During that time, we’ve dealt with a lot of challenges, and we’ve also had a tremendous number of successes. I’ve enjoyed every day that I’ve come to this job. It’s been the most enjoyable job I’ve ever had.

“On a personal basis, I have had two sons graduate from CISD and who have gone on to have success. That doesn’t occur without a tremendously dedicated professional staff providing a quality education. Also, success doesn’t occur without a tremendous commitment from the community.”

He did not resign with a job in hand.

Bailey was one of the last administrators remaining from the Damron regime. He said that never made him feel vulnerable as assistant superintendent for district operations under Beard.

“No, I’ve enjoyed it,” he said. “It gave me the opportunity to provide a transition from the prior administration to Dr. Beard. We’ve had a great relationship. Between regular and interim superintendents, I’ve worked for about five. That gives you the opportunity to learn and grow. This has been another opportunity to learn and grow.”

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