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La Joya ISD moving toward 1882 partnerships

La Joya Independent School District trustees voted Monday in favor of applying for Senate Bill 1882 status for four elementary campuses and a dropout recovery program in partnership with Region One Education Service Center.

Since 2017 the state has financially incentivized school districts to partner with nonprofits or charters to run low-performing campuses under 1882 agreements in an effort to boost performance.

Trustees discussed the staffing adjustment plan during a school board meeting on Feb. 15, 2023. (Photo by Dave Hendricks / The Progress Times.)

In October, the La Joya board OKed a nominally different, non-1882 partnership with Region One to run those campuses and the dropout recovery program in an effort to improve performance.

It also approved a policy change that paved the road to converting those partnerships to full fledged 1882 agreements — a road district leadership did not wait long to take.

A Region One spokesperson said Tuesday that that entity’s board has approved moving toward the partnerships as well.

According to La Joya ISD, the 1882-style agreements replace the partnerships the board approved in October.

Region One Executive Director Danny King told trustees Monday that functionally the partnerships work the same aside from a significant funding increase.

“This will bring an additional approximate $800 to $1,000 per student to the table,” he said.

“We’re working on improvement on those campuses. It will also make the partnership eligible for applying for significant grant funding from TEA to invest in improving those campuses.”

Based on that estimate and current enrollment data for Rosendo Benavides, Leo J. Leo, Corina Pena and Juan Seguin elementaries, the partnership could generate about $1.7 million from students at those schools.

Administration told trustees Monday that additional funds would be leveraged to improve those schools.

SB 1882 agreements have become increasingly common in the past few years.

Not uncommonly, school districts have pursued the partnerships facing the specter of state intervention over poorly performing campuses.

The agreements have, however, faced their share of criticism.

District leadership and stakeholders across the state have frequently proved wary over ceding control of campuses to outside entities.

Concerns over a proposed 1882 partnership at Wimberley ISD scuttled the idea there last year. San Antonio ISD ended its 1882 partnership in September amidst funding misuse allegations.

Region One would be the first education service center in the state to pursue an 1882 partnership. King described the venture as a “learning lab.”

“Take those four [campuses] through the process,” he told trustees. “District administration will learn and grow from that, and Region One staff will learn and grow from that. And so, it’s a collaborative exercise in working together to move this district forward.”

A minority faction on the La Joya board has opposed the Region One partnerships.

Two trustees voted against moving toward 1882 status Monday.

According to Region One, the next step toward 1882 status is submission to the Texas Education Agency for approval.

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