May 21, 2013

KINGSVILLE, May 21, 2013 — Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp today announced a partnership between Texas A&M University-Kingsville and the Premont Independent School District. Texas A&M-Kingsville President Dr. Steven Tallant and Premont Superintendent Ernest Singleton have developed a framework for the academic partnership, which includes the appointment of a task force which will examine current challenges facing the district and offer short-term and long-term solutions.

“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,” said Sharp. “By combining efforts, I believe we can enhance the educational opportunities for the children in South Texas.”

“We are proud to have this opportunity to work with Premont ISD,” said Tallant. “This is a groundbreaking initiative for both groups, and we take our responsibility very seriously. It’s a wonderful chance to help one of our neighboring school districts, and it also offers the possibility of changing the way that universities and public schools work together to provide quality educational experiences for future generations.”

Premont ISD has had a difficult past few years, culminating in summer 2011 when the state announced plans to close the struggling school district due to low academic scores, poor attendance and aging facilities. However, in December 2011, the school district received a reprieve that gave them one year to make improvements.

The school district made quite a bit of headway in addressing the issues outlined by the Texas Education Agency. The new partnership with Texas A&M-Kingsville will help them not only meet the requirements by the state, but exceed them. The task force will begin examining key areas such as learning systems, educational environment, assessment and accountability, and post-secondary preparation.

“Over the past two years I have learned that out of difficult challenges and adversity come great opportunities,” said Singleton. “Our partnership with Texas A&M University-Kingsville is a unique and unprecedented opportunity that is going to open unbelievable doors of possibilities for our students. In just a few short weeks, the university and district have established a powerful partnership that is full of vision and hope for providing college and career ready opportunities that will impact Premont students for generations to come.”

Members of the task force from the Premont School District are Superintendent Singleton; Enrique Ruiz, secondary school principal; Christina Lopez, elementary school principal; and Eric Ramos, Director of federal programs. Texas A&M-Kingsville representatives are Dr. Alberto Ruiz, dean of the College of Education and Human Performance; Dr. Mary Gonzalez, assistant vice president for student success; Dr. Don Jones, assistant professor, Department of Educational Leadership and Counseling and Dr. Norma Guzman, assistant professor, Department of Teacher and Bilingual Education.

“The leaders at Premont ISD, Texas A&M University-Kingsville and the Texas A&M University System are taking a bold approach to assuring academic excellence for students in this important part of our state,” said Williams. “I commend Chancellor Sharp, University President Tallant and Superintendent Singleton for establishing this academic partnership that has great potential and could become a collaborative model for others to follow.”

The joint venture has received praise from area legislators.

“I am honored to have known and worked with Chancellor John Sharp for many years and am thankful for the interest he and the Texas A&M System have taken in education in South Texas,” said Sen. Eddie Lucio, Jr. “I believe this initiative will set a new standard of quality education in Texas, and as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, I look forward to the opportunities this will unveil for the region and state.”

“The Texas A&M University System has a longstanding tradition of excellence and their involvement will lead the Premont Independent School District to success,” said Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa. “I have no doubt that this partnership will enhance education across the South Texas region, and I’m proud to support these groups in their new venture.”

About the A&M System
The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $3.3 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, nine agencies and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates more than 120,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Externally funded research expenditures exceed $780 million and help drive the state’s economy.


Texas A&M System
Steven B. Moore
(979) 458-6023

Texas A&M University-Kingsville
Cheryl Cain
(361) 593-2138