AP NEWS

BISD trustees explain why they went inside for top job

March 29, 2019

Beaumont ISD trustees are defending their decision to interview only one candidate for superintendent, a job overseeing the education of more than 18,000 students across 28 campuses.

Four board members interviewed Thursday all stressed the importance of continuity as the district wraps up its fourth year under state control following a series of financial scandals.

In naming BISD administrator Shannon Allen the lone finalist, they also went with an internal candidate without accepting any outside applications.

Board president A.B. Bernard, who was appointed as a trustee when the state took over, said Allen’s familiarity with the board’s reforms made her an easy choice to be the lone finalist for the position.

“By selecting the well-qualified person she is — with her experience and crucial role in the progress we’ve made in recent years — it’s a no-brainer,” Bernard said.

He also mentioned her 22-year ascent through the BISD ranks as a teacher, principal and, most recently, as associate superintendent of secondary schools.

“With the different roles she’s performed she by far has more experience that some candidates selected for superintendent in other districts,” Bernard said.

State law requires the board to wait 21 days before formally offering Allen a contract. Terms have not been announced.

Trustee Nathan Cross, one of the elected members of the board, said he was concerned about the hiring process dragging out after Superintendent John Frossard’s announcement last month that he will retire at the end of the school year.

“It would have been worrisome for the community,” Cross said. “This way they have peace of mind knowing who it is.”

Cross said he would have been interested to see what outside candidates might have to offer. But he said it became evident during discussions Wednesday that Allen would get a unanimous vote from the six board members.

“We had 17 individuals with superintendent certifications in the district and we felt that within that pool we would draw interest in the position,” elected trustee Denise Wallace-Spooner said, adding that the board had every intention on opening the position to non-district applicants if the right fit was not found.

She said Allen offers “the full package.”

“She’s about vision,” Wallace-Spooner said. “Shes an advocate for all children in the district and strives for unity within the district at all levels. She’s definitely the one I feel can improve student outcomes, and that’s where our focus is at the present time.”

She added her confidence that Allen will “help revitalize interest in the district and its programs and partners, like Lamar Institute of Technology and ExxonMobil.”

“I think people are going to be attracted to BISD.”

Zenobia Bush, the most recent elected member to be seated on the BISD board, agreed that Allen can do the job and also bolster morale within the district.

Cross said the fact the Allen has been “on scene,” learning and gaining experience made her a strong candidate for many board members.

“When you have someone who is qualified — who is experienced — and you trust them, why spend the time looking outside?” he asked.

Bernard said a non-BISD hire would need, at minimum, a year to learn the intricacies of the district before enacting policies and coming up with plans, where as Allen is able to “start working from Day 1.”

haley.bruyn@beaumontenterprise.com

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