Leader of San Antonio’s second-largest school district to resign
North East Independent School District superintendent Brian Gottardy announced Monday evening that he will retire in June.
Gottardy, 56, has led the district since 2011. He said he told district trustees about his decision during a school board executive session moments before announcing it publicly.
The district is the second-largest in Bexar County, with nearly 66,000 students. Gottardy said he will announce his future plans in the coming months.
Trustees will begin discussing hiring a new superintendent at a special meeting on Jan. 23, board president Shannon Grona said. She praised Gottardy’s leadership and said the board will miss working with him, then became tearful and cut her remarks short. Board members, apparently surprised by the announcement, moved on with the rest of the meeting.
Gottardy took over the district as an interim leader when superintendent Richard Middleton retired in May, 2011. The board named him to the permanent job a few months later, deciding not to conduct an outside search.
In an interview then, Gottardy was blunt about the challenges facing the district — more students to educate, tougher academic standards to meet and less money with which to accomplish it.
“We can sit around and complain about it, or we can figure out ways to address those challenges and have our students prepared to meet those accountability standards,” he said.
But in the past two years, Gottardy has been increasingly outspoken about the need for lawmakers to change Texas’ school finance system.
The district’s enrollment peaked at about 68,000 students in 2013-14, but has declined since then. That trend, combined with steadily rising property values, last year nudged North East ISD into “property wealthy” status, sending a substantial chunk of its property tax revenues to the “Robin Hood” system that redistributes the money to the state’s poorest school districts.
The district’s voters approved a $499.95 million bond in 2015, the fifth largest in the city’s history, and the district’s largest. They also passed a $399.4 million bond proposal in 2011, two months after Gottardy became superintendent.
But he also emphasized academic excellence as a goal to match good facilities. In 2013, Gottardy held six “Transforming The Future” forums, community gatherings of the type long used to prioritize school bond projects, to come up with a strategic plan on where to take the district in coming years.
He started his career in NEISD as a coach and physical education teacher in 1985, before moving into administration at Southwest ISD. He returned to North East in 2000, and has since worked as the executive director of transportation and associate superintendent for operations.
Gottardy’s last day as superintendent will be June 30.