MCALLEN, RGV – McAllen ISD is to merge two middle schools, De Leon and Lincoln, and move its Achieve Early College High School from South Texas College to the Lincoln campus, says the board of trustees’ president.

Tony Forina said McAllen ISD administrators and trustees had a very productive workshop last week with facilities the top item.

“It appears that administration, after looking at the numbers, is looking at making moves that would mean the merger of De Leon Middle School off Buddy Owens and 29th Street, with Lincoln Middle School, which is off 27th and 495,” Forina said, in a report to McAllen Economic Development Corporation.

Tony Forina

“We are going to put those two schools together, De Leon Middle School and Lincoln Middle School, increase our number of international baccalaureate student programs and at the same time and move our Achieve Early College High School off the campus of STC to Lincoln Middle School.”

The decision to move Achieve was triggered by safety concerns, Forina explained.

“Obviously, we have all seen what has been happening across the nation recently with school safety. Our Achieve Early College High School is essentially 12 portable buildings on the STC campus that is really vulnerable, and we want to make sure that our students and faculty are very well taken care of,” Forina said. “So, we are in the process, this summer, of transitioning to merge Lincoln and De Leon and move Achieve Early College High School off STC to Achieve Early College High School at Lincoln. Those are some of the plans we have.”

Competition from neighboring school districts is having an impact on McAllen ISD, Forina explained.

“By the look of administration and where they are going, we have a lot of competition in the market and this is our way of addressing that competition, to make sure we are using our facilities to the maximum, rather than having a school that is half-full and a school less than two miles up the road half-full. We want to make sure that our fiduciary responsibility to our constituents is being done properly. We are going to make sure of this with those moves and ensure we are getting the most out of our teachers.”

Forina stressed that no teachers will lose their jobs as a result of the consolidation.

“If you are at Lincoln Middle School and you are transferring to De Leon, not a teacher will lose their job. There will be a spot for every single teacher that we have within the district that is going to be transferring school,” Forina said. “That has been a big concern and community members have brought that up and said, ‘what if I am teaching here, is my position secure?’ It will be. We have room within the district to absorb these teachers, so we are looking forward to that happening in the next couple of months.”

Forina said McAllen ISD does not like disrupting schools but it has to act in a financially responsible way.

“It is not something that you want to do. Nobody likes to do that, you move people’s cheese and it makes them uncomfortable. But, at the same time, we want to make sure that we’re getting the most out of our district’s resources. We want to thank our friends at STC for the great partnership we have had. The school is not going away. We are transferring its location. Achieve Early College High School students will be among the graduates that will be participating in the upcoming graduation at STC. It is always good to see our high school kids graduate with an associate degree, to hit the ground running as they leave high school.”

In his report, Forina also mentioned an upcoming fishing tournament the superintendent is having. It is called Fishing for Kids and takes place at Louie’s Backyard on South Padre Island, April 27 and 28.

“We have partnered up with STARS – the South Texas Rising Scholars, and the LaMantia family. All of our sponsorships will be matched by L&F Distributors,” Forina said.

The funds raised will not just help students with their scholarships to universities, Forina explained. He said the money raised can also be used by McAllen teachers that want to further their education. “If there is a teacher that is interested in going back and improving their bachelor’s degree to a master’s degree and a master’s degree to a doctorate degree, L&F Distributors and STARS will be helping with those as well.”