AISD faces big challenges with new superintendent

So, it appears Doug Loomis is going to be the new superintendent of the Amarillo Independent School District.

How does that sound? OK . . . I guess.

I don’t know Loomis. He’s been employed by AISD for three decades. He’s been filling in as superintendent since Dana West quit suddenly in 2018 after just three years on the job.

I have two takeaways from the AISD board’s decision to name Loomis its sole finalist.

First . . .

Trustees John Betancourt and Robin Malone think the school district should have gone outside the district to look for the next superintendent. I agree with them. It’s not that an outsider would have risen to the top necessarily. It merely is that a strong field of candidates from other districts, with other outlooks, different perspectives would have given AISD trustees a wider range of options to consider.

I have argued in the past — during my days as an opinion journalist — for governing bodies to cast a wide net in their search for top administrators. The Amarillo Globe-News made that argument when Amarillo City Manager John Ward left the city; the council then elevated his deputy, Alan Taylor, to the manager’s job. Taylor did a fine job, but the paper argued that the council would serve itself better by conducting a national search. Taylor took the “criticism” personally, even though we said at the time we had nothing against Taylor per se as a candidate for the top administrative job.

AISD could have strengthened the field of contenders by opening it up rather than conducting an exclusively in-house search for superintendent.

Second . . .

Loomis inherits a district in turmoil. Indeed, he is part of the reason for AISD’s tumult. You see, it was on his watch that Amarillo High School girls volleyball coach Kori Clements resigned suddenly after a single season. She blamed the administration for a lack of support when she was confronted by the parent of one of the girls who played for her at Amarillo HS, one of the state’s most heralded volleyball programs.

The AISD administration and the board of trustees should have stood behind Clements. Neither of them did. Indeed, the offending parent — the one who harassed and hassled Clements over her daughter’s playing time — reportedly is a member of the AISD board!

I don’t live in Amarillo any longer, so I don’t yet know how much of this controversy has subsided. I have a strong hunch there remains a great deal of latent distrust of the school board and administration over the support they give to their educators and support staff.

Is the superintendent-to-be going to deal with that up front and aggressively?

My advice: He had better.

Leave a Reply