ETOILE, TX (KTRE) - The superintendent of one of the smallest and poorest school districts in the state is resigning. Andy Trekell is leaving the Etoile School District and moving southeast to Hemphill ISD where he'll serve as superintendent.
It's a career move for trekell who has a fondness for small rural school districts. Trekell received an education himself while leading Etoile ISD, a district of about 150 students.
As Trekell prepares to leave for Hemphill, he wonders about the future of all small rural school districts. "The plight of the rural school," Trekell said, followed by a thoughtful pause. "I don't know."
One of Trekell's last moves was to support the board in the tough decision to squash a short lived high school program. "It boiled down to us asking,'Will they be here? And the survey said yes, but that didn't happen," said Trekell.
Dropping enrollment is an issue in small communities across the state as parents seek better paying jobs.
"I-35 corridor and in Houston and those places are booming, but the rural schools are losing people," said Trekell.
Some political leaders propose consolidation or even closure of small schools. Trekell points out school districts are the largest employers in many East Texas towns.
"If schools fold up we'll lose an important part of us," said Trekell.
It's not all doom and gloom.
"I think the little schools will survive. They're too resourceful," believes Trekell. He refers to the time when Etoile residents supported a bond issue so new school facilities could be built. Then they came back with the passage of tax rollback election.
"There was a pretty major economic down swing. Just about the time we were ready to sell the bond the enrollment dropped off the face of the earth," recalled Trekell.
Trekell would like to see that kind of commitment from the state. Inequitable state funding is always a battle in Austin for superintendents from small districts.
In five years trekell faced more challenges than some superintendents face in a career. He'll use the experience to serve another community, where he'll continue to stick to a philosophy that will work in any where.
"I believe you should treat kids and parents in the community as a client. When they're happy, everyone succeeds, " said Trekell.
Etoile ISD had close to 50 applicants for the superintendent job. Trekell helped in narrowing the list. The board plans to announce the finalist on July 5th, about the time Trekell begins his duties in Hemphill ISD.