As I wrote in last week’s column, to end the pursuit of the District of Innovation designation in McAllen ISD, it took the entire community. It took a group of people willing to do extensive research into DOI, separating fact from fiction. It took a group of teachers, parents, community members, and administrators to speak up, loudly and clearly, at the DOI Advisory Committee meeting. It took an incredible number of people sharing all of the research and updates on social media. In the end, it took the McAllen ISD school board voting it down, unanimously (6-0 as John Ball was absent), to officially cease the pursuit of the DOI designation.

I can’t help but think this is the kind of community engagement we need to restore the legacy of McAllen ISD. I am thinking, ‘What if?’

1. What if members of our community who are good at research find grants the district could use to upgrade classroom equipment, library resources, and even classroom furniture?

2. The community voted down the 2015 MISD bond issue. What if strategic partners in our community came together to create a capital campaign that could cover the projects outlined in that bond issue that these strategic partners find imperative?

3. What if more parents and community members asked to sit on either the campus-level or the district-level SBDM (site-based-decision-making) committee, doing so to make positive contributions to the improvement of our district? According to the Texas Education Agency, “Each school district is required to adopt a policy and have administrative procedures to establish a district- and campus-level planning and decision making process. This process must involve professional staff of the district, parents, community members, and business and industry representatives in establishing and reviewing the district’s and campuses’ educational plans, goals, performance objectives, and major classroom instructional programs. (TEC 11.251 (b, d)).” (TEC refers to the pertinent Texas Education Code) The TEC goes on to read that, “The selection process for the district-level and campus-level committees must be conducted in a manner that provides for appropriate representation of the community’s diversity (TEC 11.251 (e)).”

4. What if, as springtime rolls around, people in our community would do something as simple as picking up a few plants at a local greenhouse or other store and donating them to one of our schools to help with campus beautification?

5. When I worked at Broadway Hardware in the 1990s, store officials partnered with the United Way of South Texas to create the Day of Caring. Teams from businesses and organizations throughout our community came together to paint, plant, build, clean, and do much more at United Way agencies. It was beautiful! What if teams of people across our community came together to do the same thing in our schools?

6. What if everyone in our community played an active role in volunteering to use whatever talent you have wherever you are needed in McAllen ISD?


What if?



Chris Ardis retired in May of 2013 following a 29-year teaching career. She now helps companies with business communications and social media and works as a sales coordinator for Tony Roma's and Macaroni Grill. Chris can be reached at