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To Avoid Closure, Premont ISD Partners With A&M-Kingsville

UPDATED: Premont Independent School District will avoid closure by joining with Texas A&M University-Kingsville, state and local officials announced on Tuesday.

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Updated, May 21, 2:30 p.m.:

As anticipated, Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams announced the approval of a memorandum of understanding between Texas A&M University-Kingsville and the struggling Premont Independent School District, allowing the latter to stay open.

In a statement, Williams said the partnership "has great potential and could become a collaborative model for others to follow."

Facing with academic and financial problems, the district was nearly closed by the state in 2011, but was given a reprieve as it attempted to make improvements. In early 2013, the school district began meeting with the university to explore a collaborative effort.

The new agreement creates a task force made up of representatives from both entities who, according to a news release, will focus on improving the district's learning systems, educational environment, assessment and accountability, and post-secondary preparation. Their progress will be monitored by the Texas Education Agency.

"This partnership gives us the opportunity to use our expertise to heal a struggling school district and turn it into something to be proud of," Texas A&M University System John Sharp said in a statement.

Premont ISD Superintendent Ernest Singleton called the arrangement "unique and unprecedented." He said, "Over the past two years, I have learned that out of difficult challenges and adversity come great opportunity."

Original Story, May 20, 2:30 p.m.:

Struggling Premont Independent School District will stave off closure by partnering with Texas A&M University-Kingsville, state and local officials plan to announce on Tuesday.

Years of poor academic performance and shoddy finances have threatened the small school district's future. Rather than shutter it, the Texas Education Agency has approved a memorandum of understanding between the district and A&M-Kingsville.

Through the agreement, it is believed that the university's College of Education and Human Performance will lead efforts to provide the school district with ongoing support throughout the coming academic school year.

Details of the partnership are scheduled to be announced at a press conference on the university's campus Tuesday. Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams and Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp are expected to in attend, along with A&M-Kingsville President Steven Tallant and Premont ISD Superintendent Ernest Singleton.

The Tribune will update this post as more details become available.

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