On Feb. 22, the Robstown Independent School District Board of Trustees received a presentation from district officials on the recent AEIS results.

That presentation indicated that, as has been the case for many years, scores in Robstown are still lagging behind other school districts in the state, in some cases lagging far behind.

Following the presentation, several board members expressed the opinion that Something Must Be Done, none more vocal than Board Secretary Osvaldo Romero.

"At best, (this presentation) tells the public that our district is mediocre - and that's troubling, Romero said.

"Can somebody come up with a plan that will take our district from mediocrity to excellence?"

Those comments came back to my mind following the argument between board members last week about the decision to extend the terms of members of the board.

As our front page story explains, in a 4-3 vote, board members elected to extend their terms from three years to four, and to extend terms for Robert Tapia, Eva Orona and Richard Gonzalez to 2012; and terms for Pablo Avila, Romero, Adolfo Lopez and Ernest Gallegos to 2014.

While that decision will extend the terms for most board members by 2 to 3 years, cancelling elections in 2010 and 2011, an alternate proposal could have accomplished the task of changing terms from three years to four years while extending each trustee's term by only a few months.

The decision to change the terms to four years and, specifically, to postpone elections until 2012 and 2014, was Romero's idea, something he said he began looking into shortly after he was elected last year.

After researching the issue on his own, Romero sought the advice of the district's attorney, John Bell. In November 2009, a representative of Bell's office sent out a two-page letter explaining that it was their legal opinion that the terms could not be changed.

Not satisfied with that answer, Romero and several other board members voted earlier this year to hire an attorney from San Antonio, who in two months had a resolution that explained why the change WOULD be legal.

Romero maintains that the move is a) not illegal, and b) good for the district because it saves the costs of holding elections for the next two years.

While I'm sure many politicians will agree that life would be much simpler for them without pesky elections getting in the way every few years, elections are not a waste of money.

I don't have a problem with moving the terms to four years and setting them up on a schedule that allows the district to share resources with other entities. That is good management, and shows a desire to take care of taxpayer money. But specifically choosing a way of doing so that removes opportunities for voters to decide who will represent them may not be illegal, but it is certainly unethical.

People always talk about bringing change to this district, and I can't help but think of the change in attitude that could have come if the board had been presented with both options and then unanimously chose to pick the option that limits its authority. That was a missed opportunity to change what frankly has been a selfish mindset for all members of the board in recent years.

This brings me back to the Feb. 22 meeting and the AEIS results. It seems to me that if Mr. Romero had spent nearly as much time, tenacity and energy on devising a plan to increase TAKS scores as he did to increase his time in office, the district would be a lot better off. Imagine what would have happened had he spent months researching the issue and then brought in specialists from San Antonio who are experienced in helping districts increase their scores. That would have had a more significant impact on the community than a simple power grab.

In closing, I have an answer to the question Mr. Romero asked back in February.

"Can somebody come up with a plan that will take our district from mediocrity to excellence?"

Yes, Mr. Romero.

You can.

Christopher Maher is the Managing Editor for the Nueces County Record Star. Readers may contact him at 387-4511.