Eliminating high school athletics

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Especially in a sports-loving state such as Texas, eliminating high school athletics during a school year is unusual. But that's exactly what's happening in this small ranching community where the school district is taking desperate measures to prevent a state-mandated closure due to poor academics. The Premont Independent School District is even deploying its superintendent, a constable and high school principal to the homes of truant students in an effort to improve dismal attendance.

Perhaps the entire community -- which some parents already plan to leave because of the uncertainty surrounding the schools' future, the actions announced this week are not only part of a last-ditch effort to save the school district. "The school shuts down in this town, the town dies," said Frank Davila, a Jim Wells County constable who also works as the school security officer and grew up here. "This is all we have."

Since the Texas Education Agency placed it on probation nearly a year ago and then last fall ordered that the school district close by July 1, the town of 2,700 people in South Texas has been on edge. The order has since been put on hold as the district gets one last chance to meet the state's criteria. To be annexed into another district 35 miles away and eliminate one of the town's largest employers -- costing Premont 90 jobs, failure would force Premont ISD.