Q&A: Alvin ISD Superintendent Buck Gilcrease shares retirement plans, hopes for district

Superintendent Buck Gilcrease formally announced his retirement on Nov. 13.

Superintendent Buck Gilcrease formally announced his retirement on Nov. 13.

Superintendent James “Buck” Gilcrease officially gave notice of his retirement from Alvin ISD to the board of trustees Nov. 13. A retirement date has not been set, and he will remain in the position until an interim superintendent is appointed, officials said. Community Impact Newspaper asked him about his retirement plans and to reflect on his career thus far. Answers have been edited for clarity and length.

What are your retirement plans?
Right now it is a flexible arrangement with the board. It is my understanding the board will reach out to search firms and make a decision as quickly as possible. I will stay in some form or fashion until they get that underway and feel like they are ready for naming a permanent or interim at that point. … With the passage of the bond and tax-ratification election, the district is poised to move forward. As for me, I will be joining Moak, Casey & Associates, an educational consulting firm that does accountability and financial consulting. … The plan is to live in the district for a while, though. I’ll be around.

What got you into education, and what kept you in it?
I started out as a teacher-coach and spent some great years doing that and moved through the administrative levels, assistant principal, principal and all that. All through that, my drive, my passion has been for instruction and learning and for students to experience that at a deep and profound level. That has driven me for most of my adult life.

What will you miss? What will you not miss?
I think I’m going to miss the chance to see students do all the things that they do academically and extracurricularly, and watching them grow into young adults. That’s the reason I got into education. The things that I won’t miss are dealing with things that keep us from our focus on kids learning in the classroom. The most important thing that goes on in the world every day is what happens with that teacher and that student.

You have said the A-F accountability ratings “defy logic”—what’s the alternative?
The question is and should always be: To whom are you accountable and for what? The local community is who school districts are accountable to. ... Local taxpayers pay 60 percent of the bill. The state pays less than 40 percent, so I don’t see how they have any right to be the purveyors of what is deemed a good school or bad school. ... We developed and released on our own a local accountability system because we’ve got our local system by our local people. We asked them, ‘What do you want us to do with your kids?’ And that’s what we are focused on. The focus of our local community is not anywhere close to what the state focused on.

What do you consider your biggest accomplishments?
We’ve expanded academic and extracurricular offerings, especially for those in advanced academics. We developed the career academy, we expanded technological training and certificates that kids can achieve. … That’s an important thing to get them ready for the next thing in their life, and we’ve increased that dramatically. Our approval rating above 90 percent with parents is an achievement. The fact that we survived historic growth is an achievement in some ways ... just staying ahead of that and not only did instruction not suffer, it thrived.

What challenges and opportunities will the next leader face?
The growth obviously is the first thing. I think for Alvin ISD in general just continuing to focus on student achievement and moving kids forward, no matter their interest, moving them to the highest level they can achieve and sending them out into the real world into whatever area they choose prepared and ready to take it on.

What message would you like to send parents, teachers and students in the district?
It’s been a privilege to share in the lives of our young people, and being entrusted with that is an honor. The job I’m moving into is still in education. I’ve had a great time helping the 26,000 students here in this district, but with the new opportunity I have, I now could have an impact on the 5.5 million across the state. Aside from that, they all know how to get in touch with me, I’m still going to be the crazy superintendent that gives out my cell number. You can call me, and I’ll answer.
By Matt Dulin
Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018 and is the City Editor for Houston's Inner Loop editions.


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