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The Lancaster ISD Board of Trustees was named the 2016 Outstanding School Board at the TASA/TASB Convention in Houston on September 24. Since 1971, the TASA School Board Awards program has honored outstanding Texas school boards that have demonstrated commitment to their students and to their communities.

The Lancaster ISD school board was chosen from among five finalists that were interviewed by a committee of Texas school superintendents. The committee’s decision was based on several criteria, including the board’s support for educational performance, educational improvement projects and school transformation initiatives, commitment to a code of ethics, and placement of the welfare of children served by the school system above other motives.

In particular, the committee was impressed by the transformation the board has achieved in the district, which went from having a state conservator, low financial reserve and negative public image to a model for district turnaround. The board not only worked to improve district schools, but now its members share their experiences with other school boards at the state and national level.

“Lancaster ISD’s success has reinvigorated the community, leading to partnerships with business and industry and bringing students back to the district for the quality of education,” said Clark Ealy, superintendent of College Station ISD and acting chair of the TASA School Board Awards Committee.

Lancaster ISD Superintendent Michael McFarland, the 2015 Texas nominee for National Superintendent of the Year, nominated the board for the award. “When you look at the criteria for Honor Board and you think about the role of the board, I felt like their service has been exemplary. I just wanted to make sure that they got the attention and recognition they deserve,” he said. “It is great to see that they are being recognized at the state level. Now the state will know what I have known for quite some time — that we have an outstanding Team of 8.”

Board President Ty G. Jones said that the recognition provides acknowledgement that the board and district are doing some things well. “I am hopeful it will allow us to develop additional partnerships to assist us in realizing our vision that all students achieve self-sustaining success and leave a lasting legacy,” he said.

Lancaster ISD, south of Dallas, serves more than 7,000 students, 96 percent of whom are African-American and Hispanic. Eighty-six percent of students are identified as economically disadvantaged.

In addition to the Lancaster ISD board, the other four finalists, or “Honor Boards,” were recognized at the TASA/TASB Convention: Denver City ISD, Region 17; Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD, Region 11; Robstown ISD, Region 2; and Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City, Region 20.

The Regional Honor Boards, also honored at the convention, were: Aquilla ISD; Region 12; Comanche ISD; Region 14; Early ISD; Region 15; Friendswood ISD, Region 4; Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD; Region 5; Navarro ISD; Region 13; Knippa ISD, Region 20; Reagan County ISD; Region 18; Roma ISD, Region 1; and Waco ISD; Region 12.