By Richard Nelson
Diboll ISD Superintendent Gary Martel probably wasn’t too nervous Monday evening when he headed into closed session for evaluation by the school board. After all, he had just been named a finalist for Texas TPA Superintendent of the Year.
Martel came out of the evaluation with a one-year contract extension – keeping him as the head of Diboll Independent School District for another three years – and a 5 percent raise.
“Last summer, the board established district commitments for the 2013-14 school year,” said Trey Wilkerson, president of the DISD Board of Trustees. “We based our evaluation of Mr. Martel on the progress made toward those commitments. Overall, the Board is pleased with our progress, and looks forward to working with Mr. Martel and the rest of the district staff as we continue to reach for greater achievements for Diboll. The board, therefore, extended Mr. Martel’s contract by one year and increased his salary by 5 percent, which should bring his pay more in line with salaries of competing districts.”
Martel said he was pleased with the board’s vote of confidence.
“This isn’t just a once-a-year thing in June,” Martel said. “There’s a goal committee made up of three board members and I meet with them during the year. We review our progress on all board commitments for the year. These commitments are developed by the board and administration each summer. I appreciate the staff in our district and the board’s faith and commitment to me and my family over the last six years as superintendent. There is continuity and stability because of a good working relationship and communication. This board has been very good to work with as we constantly try to improve our district.”
Martel will find this month if he wins the PTA award and will be invited to an awards ceremony July 19 in Houston. Other finalists are Dr. Bobby Burns of Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Dr. D. Scott Elliff, Corpus Christi, Dr. Guy Sconzo of Humble and David Vinson of Wylie.
“I am proud and humbled by the nomination and being accepted as one of the four finalists,” Martel said. “I feel this represents the parents and people we have in Diboll and I am proud to represent them.”
The PTA, in its letter notification letter to Martel, wrote: “Congratulations on being selected as a finalist for the 2014 Texas PTA Outstanding Educator of the Year! Your commitment to student success, both academically and personally, shows that Texas schools are in excellent hands.”
Last year’s Superintendent of the Year was Dr. Greg Smith, of Clear Creek ISD.
Jan Wilkerson of Diboll, a former state president of PTA, nominated Martel for the honor.
“I said in the nomination that Mr. Martel believed in doing whatever it takes to make sure every child in our district has the best that can be offered in our schools, she said. “I told how he is visible, how he will go and work with students needing help, how the kids all love to see him on campus, and how he supports the local PTA.
“I have worked with a number of superintendents across the state while state president and he is one of the most involved on the local level of any I have ever seen,” she said.
New high school principal
In other news from the Monday school board meeting, the board hired John Clements as Diboll High School principal. He takes over for Andy Trekell, who has accepted another assignment within the district. Clements is leaving Frankston High School after two years as its principal. He also has worked at Woodville ISD and Farmersville. He has two children – Johnny in elementary school; and Shelby, in junior high.
DISD kindergarten through sixth-grade students can now have free meals without having to meet eligibility requirements.
The United States Department of Agriculture expanded its Community Eligibility Provision to include Texas, and, according to program guidelines Diboll Primary, Temple Elementary and Temple Intermediate campuses qualify for the program. USDA will reimburse the district for the meals.
Diboll Intermediate School will be able to add an outdoor classroom thanks to the Thomas T. Keeler Grant Program, which granted the district $81,764 for the project. Diboll Primary School received a Keeler Grant of $6,698 to purchase tables and benches. A more in-depth story will be published later this summer.
The Keeler Grant is part of the TLL Temple Foundation, which awarded $70,00 to The Even Start Family Literacy Program.