They like him – they really like him
Outpour of support has Yantis ISD superintendent reconsidering resignation
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Jan. 11, 2007 - On Monday, he handed in his keys to the school board, then began planning how to spend his retirement. On Tuesday, he began packing up his office. By Wednesday afternoon, most of the community had been advised of Harold Cowley's intentions to give up his post at superintendent at Yantis Independent School District and return to retirement.

But after an outpouring of heartfelt requests from many community members, Cowley Wednesday night began to reconsider his plan to retire. After much discussion with his wife and time spent in prayer, the decision is still up in the air, he said Thursday morning.

Cowley said he notified the school board during Monday night's meeting of his plans to retire, effective immediately. The decision was made over the Christmas break after much consideration and discussion between Cowley and his wife, Jane.

"My wife and I talked about it over the Christmas holiday and I decided to go back to the retirement plan. There was nothing else, no problems — I just decided to retire again," Cowley said Wednesday afternoon. "It's been a great run, and I feel I've accomplished some positive things while I was here."

A special board meeting to review the superintendent's contract has been called for Jan. 16. Cowley said Thursday morning if the board decides to extend his contract at least for a while longer, he hopes it will be long enough to quiet the regret he was beginning to experience at not seeing the school facilities project get under way.

He has been working with a committee formed to recommend to the school board options for facilities improvement which would update aging structures and solve the district's need for five additional core classrooms, especially at the junior high level.

The superintendent said several good plans and ideas have been made by the committee. Cowley's suggestion for facilities improvement and expansion would see the old gym renovated and utilized for other subject areas, as well as new construction, and could be put in place in stages according to funding availability so that no bond would be needed. The funding being set aside annually for a media center and renovation of the old gymnasium could be utilized and allowed to continue to grow based on his recommendation.

Cowley's plan calls for renovation of the old gymnasium, with the media center located in one end and a fine arts area in the other. The old agriculture building could be converted to five rooms for core subjects, including a science room with the classroom set up on one side and the lab in the rear of it. That area would be designated for middle school students.

A new vocational agriculture building would be added on the south side of the high school, with office space for coaches as it is attached to the gym. An administrative department would be established in an area separate from classrooms and other departments on campus.

Cowley said he will continue to act as superintendent at least until Tuesday, when the school board will meet in executive session with him and their attorney, as is recommended by Texas Association of School Boards any time a superintendent's contract is negotiated. Whether or not Cowley remains as the superintendent after that will be up to him and the school board. Until then, it will be business as usual at YISD, and a lot of thinking for him and his wife.

Regardless of the decision, Cowley plans to continue living in Hopkins County, tending to the cattle on their ranch and enjoying time with their son, James Cowley, and his family.

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