Calhoun County ISD superintendent could step down

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Dec. 22, 2017 at 9:12 p.m.
Updated Dec. 23, 2017 at 6 a.m.

James Cowley

James Cowley   CONTRIBUTED PHOTO for The Victoria Advocate

Calhoun County ISD Superintendent James Cowley could resign next month, triggering the return of a man who once led the school district for a decade.

Cowley was named the sole finalist for superintendent at Groesbeck ISD, about 40 miles east of Waco, on Dec. 13.

The Groesbeck ISD School Board is scheduled to meet Jan. 4 to vote to offer Cowley the job.

Thursday, the Calhoun County ISD School Board approved ending Cowley's contract early pursuant to his final request and resignation. The school board also agreed to begin negotiating with Larry Nichols to be the interim superintendent.

Nichols was the superintendent of Calhoun County ISD from 2000 to 2010. He retired a year and a half ago as superintendent of Galveston ISD. Nichols, 62, currently works part time for Region 2 and Region 3 Education Service Centers, assisting school districts with their FEMA claims after Hurricane Harvey.

"In Calhoun, we had a high performing district, and it's an honor to be invited to come back and see if we can work to make that happen," Nichols said.

Cowley could not be reached for comment Friday.

School Board President Bill Harvey declined to comment.

Cowley has been the superintendent of Calhoun County ISD since 2015.

During that time, he's overseen a $65 million bond project that voters passed in 2013. The bond went toward building a new middle school, renovating other campuses and improving the Sandcrab Stadium.

This year, all campuses in the district met standard, and Cowley said the district also earned more distinctions than the previous year.

Calhoun County ISD has about 4,000 students and about 62 percent of them are economically disadvantaged.

After Hurricane Harvey, Cowley and the district partnered with Education Foundation of Calhoun County to give 82 students $25 gift cards.

Nichols, meanwhile, said he oversaw a large bond package in Calhoun County ISD before, and in Galveston, he helped the district recover from about $48 million worth of damage done by Hurricane Ike in 2008.

"I do have some experience in both of those realms. That's not to say it will be easy. It's not. Construction problems have their challenges, and certainly dealing with the Texas Department of Emergency Management, FEMA and meeting all of their obligations in a timely way is a sizable task," he said.

Nichols filed for county judge earlier this month and was to face two others in the Republican primary in May.

He has since withdrawn from the race, although his name will remain on the ballot, Calhoun County Republican Party Chairman Russell Cain said Friday.

Nichols said he'd also quit his part-time job for Region 2 and 3 if he were to serve as interim superintendent.

"What's that saying? 'If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.' This appears to be the direction, so we will see and give it a go, obviously pending board action," Nichols said.

The next Calhoun County ISD school board meeting is at 5:30 p.m. Jan. 8 at the administration building, 525 N. Commerce St., in Port Lavaca.


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