SEGUIN, Texas - The Seguin school district is considering a plan to lease one of the town’s local newspapers and a radio station for five years, with an option to buy.
“The radio station and newspaper is not going to be able to run $100,000 deficit year after year and be able to stay in Seguin,” said the Seguin ISD superintendent Stetson Roane.
School district leaders said the proposal to oversee two of the most trusted news sources in town, KWED 1580 AM and The Seguin Daily News, is a business decision to provide opportunities to students interested in journalism.
It’s a stance resident Darrell Phelps supports.
“If what they told us is true, and we can back out if it turns into a money pit, then yes, because there's so much education here to be had for the children,” Phelps said.
Critics of the proposed deal are concerned the district wants to take over a sinking ship, one the superintendent said was nearly $90,000 in the red last year.
Some think the move is in response to reports by the station and newspaper General Manager Darren Dunn.
“It’s my personal opinion that probably has a lot to do with it,” said Elaina Reihl, who’s running for the District 7 school board seat, when asked if the move is in response to Dunn’s articles about the district or superintendent.
The district spokesman said otherwise.
“There’s a lot of emotion tied to this. Mr. Dunn is a well-respected member of our community, but what it came down to was business,” said Sean Hoffman, Seguin ISD spokesman.
"How can the community be assured that there will be fairness in content?” questioned Carol Sewell, Seguin ISD District 7 trustee.
Sewell and district trustee John Holt asked a lot of logistical questions, including how the district will get media outlets out of debt. The superintendent said that would come from cross-promoting schools and businesses.
Seguin High School graduate Alex Briseno interned at KWED this summer and thinks there are too many unknowns in the proposed deal.
“They need to take the time and evaluate their options, because I don’t think it’s the correct one,” he said.
On Thursday, the board voted to continue negotiations. Should the proposal be approved, it will cost Seguin ISD $75,000 a year to lease the paper and radio station. District leaders said the money will come from a lease agreement with a supermarket renting district space, but some say that money could be used for better purposes, such as teacher raises.
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