TISD Named Best In State

The Tyler Independent School District has the top school board in the state of Texas. It received the Texas Outstanding School Board award this weekend.

Those who have been with the district for years say TISD has turned things around, from what many considered some rough times, four to five years ago.

"To be narrowed down out of 1,047 schools whose name was called after a lot of years of hard work was exciting," said Andy Bergfeld, the president of the board of trustees. Bergfeld, says members have worked hard for the honor. "To say we were expecting it, no. But at the same time, we know we've done as much as anybody has in the state of Texas," said Bergfeld.

Bergfeld says the board has come a long way. "We were not a popular school board four or five years ago. We had some problems," said Bergfeld. Those problems included a failed bond election in 2002. "I think the biggest difference from four or five years a go was the lack of trust from our community to our district and to our school board," said Bergfeld.

Board of trustees vice president Kristen Baldwin says the board made changes when the bond failed and shortly after school board superintendent David Simmons took over. "We started putting together a course of action. We put together a vision of where we wanted to go," said Baldwin.

She says that started the turnaround for what it is today. The board says students' scores have improved and they've seen good gains in financial accountability. And last November's bond election passed. "It was exciting to know that the community was backing us and have that confidence that what they were seeing in our vision and our accountability is what they wanted," said Baldwin.

Bergfeld says the board's biggest improvement is being able to work well together. "I'm just real grateful to these board members, all the time they've put in," said Bergfeld. "There's no way you can win this award without seven unselfish board members and a superintendent that has the same vision that the board does. I'm just proud to work with them."

From the regional winner three times, to the number one school board in the state, this is the first time TISD, has received this award. A separate celebration ceremony for winning the award is expected in Tyler sometime in the future.

Oralia Ortega reporting, ortega@kltv.com