New Complex dedication and grand opening set for August 26
The “Dr. Carrol A. “Butch” Thomas Educational Support Center” will be dedicated in ceremonies open to the public at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 26, at 5250 Bayou Willow Way, off I-10, in Beaumont. Bands, cheerleaders, varsity football team members, the Citizens Bond Advisory Committee and a host of special guests will be part of the celebration.
The Thomas Center includes a 10,600-seat football and soccer stadium as well as a competition-size natatorium. Future plans for the multi-purpose facility located on 85 acres off I-10 may include a basketball arena and conference center. The Board of Trustees of BISD voted to name the new $40+ million complex after Thomas when a grassroots community group presented a petition requesting the citizens honor Thomas by naming the facility The Carrol A. “Butch” Thomas Educational Support Center. The group heralded Thomas’ contribution as a leader to the academic, fiscal and overall success of the 20,000-student district that has 32 schools and more than 3,000 employees. Three high schools—Central, Ozen and West Brook--will host their home games in the new facility that has been tagged as one of the best high school athletic competition facilities in Southeast Texas.
In 1996, when Thomas came to BISD, the district was one of the lowest performing districts in the state. BISD is now ranked among the top school districts in Texas and the nation for improving student performance. The district has gone from only one campus receiving state recognition in 1996, to nearly all its ratable schools receiving either recognized or exemplary status. Under Thomas’ leadership, BISD has earned a district-wide rating of “recognized” three times and it currently holds a TEA “exemplary” status in reading, writing, science, social studies and completion rates. The district has two national Blue Ribbon Schools and a state and national demonstration school. Furthermore, Texas Monthly Magazine consistently rates several BISD schools among the best schools in Texas.
Thomas grew up in Lockhart, attended Lockhart public schools where he played football and earned a scholarship to Texas A&I University in Kingsville. Playing under the leadership of the renowned Coach Gil Steinke, Thomas was on the famous late 1960s Javelina championship teams that included a number of future NFL greats. Finishing undergraduate studies in three years, Thomas went on to Lubbock public schools to start his career in education. His 19-year-tenure in Lubbock included stints as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal. He was recognized by his Texas colleagues as “Coach of the Year” and “Principal of the Year.” While serving as principal of Estacado High School, Thomas was elected to the presidency of the Texas Association of Secondary School Principals. His work in Lubbock gained much attention in academic circles. Consequently, Thomas was tapped to head Houston’s North Forest Independent School District as its superintendent.
Already with a reputation as a turn-around expert, Thomas led North Forest ISD from being a district under monitor status by the Texas Education Agency to one of academic and management success. The district gained full accreditation and financial stability under Thomas’ leadership.
The veteran educator has been recognized nationally as “Superintendent of the Year” and is currently president of the National Alliance of Black School Educators. He has worked with President Obama’s education transition team and with White House officials about policies and programs concerning the “No Child Left Behind” Act.
“Dr. Thomas is a highly sought-after educational leader who is renowned for his work in inspiring those in communities and government to achieve the best for those who depend on public education. He excites youth to learn, teachers to teach, staff persons to support and administrators to lead. Thomas is charismatic, intelligent and committed to the educational development of children. Naming our new athletic center after him is a great way to recognize his legacy and contribution to the well-being of our community. He is committed to quality and there is no doubt that this facility is one of the finest in our state,” said Woodrow Reece, president of the BISD Board of Trustees.
The Thomas Center is part of a 2007 voter approved school bond facilities improvement referendum that also includes 10 new BISD schools and improvements across the district. At $389 million, it is the largest bond program in BISD’s history and one of the largest in Texas for districts the size of BISD.
In addition to his bachelor’s degree from Texas A&I, Thomas earned his master’s degree and superintendent's certiﬁcate from Texas Tech and his doctorate from Texas Southern University. He and his wife Linda are parents of two daughters and one granddaughter.