SWEENY — Most of the heavy lifting happened behind closed doors, but the Sweeny ISD Board of Trustees made a couple of major hires, bringing in a new police chief and athletics director for the district.
Following a lengthy executive session, the board voted unanimously to hire Ulysses Velez as the new chief and Jay Seibert, who will pull double duty as the new AD and head football coach.
Velez is a 20-year veteran of the Brazoria County Sheriff’s Office, where he went up the ranks from a jailer to a patrol deputy, mental health officer, investigator and administrator who eventually held the rank of lieutenant.
After deciding to get back into law enforcement, Velez learned of the opening in Sweeny and jumped at the chance, he said.
The new chief will be making a commute from Iowa Colony, where he lives with his family, who came along to the meeting. Sweeny ISD Superintendent Daniel Fuller announced Velez would be sworn in as soon as his new-hire paperwork was completed.
Velez looks to gain trust from the students and faculty to institute change rather than making sweeping reversals in policy upon setting foot in the district, he said.
“My plan is to just get settled in here, learn everybody, see how they’re working. I’m not planning on coming in here and making big changes,” Velez said. “A lot of agencies, when somebody new comes in they make a complete wipe and then implement massive changes. I’m of the philosophy that you may have your vision, but you have to have your people on board.”
Seibert comes to Sweeny after working under the same titles for Rockport-Fulton High School.
The district also heard from Chief Human Resources Officer Charolet Black, who presented some ideas for a revenue-neutral way to recruit candidates to fill vacancies both through the school system. She also offered ways to promote from within using paraprofessionals already in the district’s employ.
“Over the past couple of months, we’ve been visiting with different organizations, different providers and different universities,” Black said. “My goal was that we would be able to provide a menu of support that — wherever that individual is in their journey to become a certified teacher in the classroom — we could meet them where they are and help them find that pathway to certification.”
The proposal is for different programs such as a Future Teacher Academy and a Future Teacher University to offer students desiring to go into teaching a way to get a leg up in getting their certification and for employees to step into teaching roles as they finish their certification, respectively.
The options included offering dual-credit classes, classroom positions for high schoolers and tuition reimbursement in exchange for working a predesignated number of years.
Details of the program are likely to be presented to the board for action in the year ahead, Black said.
Other business included the renewal of the district’s property casualty insurance, which came at a significant increase over the previous year. The board decided to mitigate the increase by moving to a 5 percent deductible on wind claims outside of those that result from named storms.
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