South San ISD

Camille Phillips / Texas Public Radio

Transparency and budget priorities are top of mind for residents of the South San Antonio Independent School District, as the district contemplates asking for a tax increase.

File Photo | Joey Palacios | Texas Public Radio

Updated 4:25 p.m. with comment from Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra.

Under the watchful eye of a state-appointed conservator for the past two years, South San Antonio Independent School District has returned to complete local control.

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For more than 20 years, Communities in Schools of San Antonio has operated a federally-funded program called Upward Bound at South San Antonio High School. Upward Bound’s aim is to help prepare students from low-income families for college and support them once they’re there.

But this summer Communities in Schools received bad news: The U.S. Department of Education would not be renewing the five year, $400,000 grant that supported the program.

The state has stripped board members and administrators in the South San Antonio Independent School District of some significant authority.

Friday, Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, appointed a conservator to oversee financial management and governance decisions at the district.

“This intervention is necessary,” Morath wrote, “to prevent substantial or imminent harm to the welfare of the district’s students or to the public interest.”

The conservator’s role will include overseeing financial management and governance of the district.

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Earlier this month, the Texas Education Agency cited South San Antonio Independent School District with several violations surrounding the district's governance of its finances. The district was accused by elected officials and citizens of, among other things, mismanaging funds and violating procurement laws.

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