On Thursday, May 15, at the canvass of the BISD trustee election, Cliff Gardner submitted his resignation as superintendent, effective July 1. Calling the decision to leave “not easy because of the great amount of respect I have for my colleagues and friends in Blanco,” Gardner explained that he has accepted an administrative position in another school district. Although Gardner has only served as superintendent since August 2007, he concluded, “I will never regret coming to this school district and community. We have come to love the Hill Country and have been blessed to have made some lifelong friends. Trust that you have given me more to make me a better person than I could ever give back.”
At a special meeting May 19, trustees voted to accept Gardner’s resignation. An attorney present noted to this reporter several violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act , including failure to post the meeting on the district website and the fact that the superintendent’s resignation should not have been an executive session item. As well, it was noted that president Matt Herden discussed the appointment of an interim superintendent after most of the trustees had left the room. The motion to accept Gardner’s resignation was made after some delay by Kirk Felps and seconded by Mary Ann Weaver. The only dissenting vote was cast by Bernie San Miguel, who commented after the vote, “I hope the district he goes to treats him better than we did.” Gardner will take a position as assistant superintendent with the Lockhart ISD.
The reaction of trustees to the announcement was mixed. Only MaryAnn Weaver and David Behrends expressed surprise at Gardner’s resignation. President Matt Herden submitted a written statement as follows: “The Board of Trustees believes it is in the best interest of Blanco ISD and Mr. Gardner, to release him from his current contract, allowing him to make this career move that he seeks. We wish him the best in his future endeavors.”
Alluding to conflicts within the board during the year, Charles Riley expressed regret at Gardner’s decision, saying, “I thought he did a good job, but circumstances wouldn’t let him stay.” Trustee Troy Immel confessed, “I understand why he’s leaving, but I’m not glad he left. I wish he would have stayed.” Bernie San Miguel spoke frankly about the continuing split on the board between those who supported Gardner and those who wanted him gone. “We have certain board members that wanted to get rid of him,” he said. “He (Gardner) wasn’t allowed to do his job and then was criticized for not doing it. It was just a bad deal all the way around.” In conclusion, San Miguel said, “I feel bad that we can’t get anything done in a positive manner to help the kids and the teachers. I knew it was coming—I’m surprised he lasted as long as he did.”
At the regular meeting of the BISD on May 12, no mention was made of Gardner’s impending resignation. In fact, no resignations were discussed. However, two new teachers were hired after discussion in executive session: Michele Ward, middle school science, and Brandi Mumme, middle school and high school PE and coaching girls’ sports—assistant coach of volleyball and basketball, and head coach of girls’ track at the high school.
In Open Forum, PTO president-elect Crystal Flores announced a new community service outreach program—a child identification kit, which will be available to every child in our community free of charge. Flores explained that the program is supported by Crimestoppers and their affiliation with the National Child Identification Program, the Texas Association of School Administrators, the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas, and the FBI.
The kits will be available at the annual Meet the Teachers Picnic, hosted by Blanco Elementary School, the week before school starts. As Flores explained, there will be trained personnel on hand to assist with the kits, which consist of fingerprinting, DNA swabs, photos, and wallet ID cards for parents. Each part of the process will be completed at a station, so that by the end of the evening kits will be fully completed and sealed for future use. Flores explained that pre-schoolers and homeschooled children are also eligible to participate in the ID program. She warned against a “false sense of security” that comes from living in a small town and urged parents to “show how strong we as a community are and just how much every child means to us.”
Superintendent Gardner recognized Blanco’s three principals, who enumerated end-of-the-year field trips and award ceremonies. Blanco High principal Dustin Barton announced the upcoming Academic Awards Banquet and commended the FFA Range Team for a tenth place ranking in national competition, Cody Harvey for his performance at the state track meet, and Rebecca Kamas for winning the state UIL Lincoln-Douglas Debate Championship. Dr. Buck Ford announced upcoming events including the National Junior Honor Society induction on May 14 and Awards Night on May 19. BES principal Scott Kvapil announced numerous field trips, a Library Book Fair, and Field Day.
Finally, trustees approved the disposal of surplus home economics inventory by taking bids.