Wranosky: A Man with a Vision and a Plan

Flour Bluff, History, Local history, Personal History

The following article about Ernest J. Wranosky, Superintendent of Flour Bluff Schools, appeared in THE FLOUR BLUFF SUN on July 15, 1976, under the title of “Thirty Years in Retrospect, 1946-1976: Wranosky – Reflections on 30 Years with Flour Bluff Schools.”  

Dorothy Arnold, an educator and administrator who worked side-by-side with Mr. Wranosky, wrote this first-hand account as a historical record of all that Wranosky did for Flour Bluff students in his 30 years with the district.  No doubt many superintendents have come and gone in the 54 years before and 41 years after Wranosky, but none can compare to the man who put the community of Flour Bluff on the map by creating a school like no other, a school with a reputation for excellence and innovation that spread around the world, primarily via NAS Corpus Christi personnel.  It should be noted that Dorothy Arnold was instrumental in helping Wranosky bring his vision to life.  

As a 1976 FBHS graduate, retired FB teacher who spent her entire career at FBJH, and current school board member of FBISD, I am honored and humbled to offer this article in its entirety in THE PAPER TRAIL NEWS for all to enjoy.   I know that what Ms. Arnold writes is true. Mr. Wranosky left his positive mark on me because I came up through the system he created.  What he instilled in all of us is that we should leave things better than we found them.  He was a living example for us all.  (Note: THE SUN is no longer in print, and only a few copies exist here and there.  This copy came to me via Rene Self, long-time Flour Bluff resident and civic leader.)

     On July 10, 1946, Ernest J. Wranosky, Sr. held his first board meeting of Flour Bluff Common School District#22, a community on a peninsula of sand dunes, salt flats, scrub oak and sandy trails, with one paved road (Waldron Road) through the Bluff and another (Lexington Boulevard, now Padre Island Drive) to the Naval Air Station.

     There were sixteen teachers, two janitors, and the superintendent, with 188.9 average daily attendance at the close of the 1945-46 term and approximately 350 students at the beginning of the 1946-47 term.  The school district owned five classrooms (the old primary building), four acres of land, cafeteria, shop, home economics cottage, and four teacherages.  Classes were held in the old section of the present junior high school which was built and owned by the Federal Government.

     Members of the board of trustees at that time were Henry Brown, Joe B. Killian, and Arthur W. Whitener.  The assessed value of the district was $1,800,000 (about $5000 per student) on a tax rate of $1.50.

     The first task facing the new superintendent was to secure financing from the State of Texas for a full year (nine months) of instruction through the Rural Equalization Aid program.  Wranosky began renovating buildings on the campus, moved in a building to serve as a cafeteria, and added teacherages to attract personnel to make application in the school district.  At one time during this period, 22 families lived in school-owned housing.

Image result for wranosky + flour bluff

     In April, 1948, residents of the Flour Bluff community voted to become an independent school district.  The district hired a tax assessor and has maintained its own tax roll since that time.

     In May, 1954, Mr. Wranosky was responsible for extending the boundaries of Flour Bluff I.S.D. from 38 square miles of land surface to 56 square miles of land surface.  Also included were 100 square miles of water surface.  The district included parts of Mustang Island and Padre Island.

     Each year funds were committed to a construction project, and as time went on, auxiliary buildings, many of which were government surplus available at low cost and renovated with local (including student) labor, were added to the campus.  In addition, Wranosky was instrumental in securing funds from the Federal Government for classrooms and related instructional areas and laboratories.

Image result for flour bluff schools
Original high school that became the junior high when the new high school was built .

     During his 29 years of service as superintendent, Wranosky worked with 42 board members at 541 regular/special board meetings and missed only one meeting.  Those serving at the time of the election for an independent district were Henry Brown, Joe B. Killian, and J. W. Roper.  Those elected to serve on the new board were S. F. Hawley, president (formerly the superintendent of Flour Bluff Common School District), Joe B. Killian, secretary, Henry Brown, J. W. Roper, H. E. Johnson, Walter E. Bechtel, and W. F. Cutler.  Former board members who served with Wranosky and who are known to be living today are J. W. Roper, George F. Merzbacher, Sr., Edgar L. Barnes, H. W. Grabowske, Sr., R. C. Seeds, Sr., Jesse H. Bond, Edward R. “Bud” Graham, H. E. “Eddy” Savoy, Tom C. Witherspoon, Calvin Ramfield, M. K. Smith, Colvin E. Smith, Joe B. Killian, W. T. Talley, Sr., W.H. “Bill” Cofer, W. R. Duncan, Allen L. Hockley, Sr., D.O. Holder, H. E. “Bud” Johnson, E. L. Pharis, Virl Preston, and Doyle Rains.  Over this period of time, 52,896 students were enrolled in grades K-12, 1,865 students were graduated, and 746 professional faculty members served.

     At the close of his 29 years as superintendent, the size of the campus had increased from 4 acres to approximately 145 acres; from the two classroom building areas to its present size.  One of the most “talked about” projects was the physical education building and swimming pool.  The superintendent, with a group of students, dismantled an old hangar building at Fort Point, Point Bolivar, Galveston, and hauled the steel framework on school-owned trucks and floats procured by the district from Texas Surplus Property Agency.  There were those opposing the project who considered the controversial Van Galen Ditch an adequate swimming pool.  When asked, “How much seating capacity will there be in the new gym?”, Wranosky replied, “I hope none.  We are building this for students to use and not sit.”

Caller-Times photo, March 21, 1948

Caller-Times photo, November 17, 1968  (Note: The pool is located at the back of Wranosky Gym.)

     With a sharp eye for sound spending and close surveillance of tax dollars, Mr. Wranosky initiated new programs and new buildings on current financing.  During the years 1972-73, 1973-74, and 1974-75, major construction projects, including 30 high school classrooms (1972-73), 48 elementary classrooms, an office complex, library and satellite cafeteria (1973-74) were completed and paid for out of current tax funds.  The buildings are all fully air-conditioned, and the elementary building is fully carpeted.  The cost of these buildings was about $17.00 per square foot.  The architect was C. V. Tanner, and the builder was E. Eisenhauer.  The high school library was designed with the assistance of top level librarians, using American Library Association standards to meet the basic requirements of 2,200 high school students, allowing for study carrels for all basic academic areas, a teacher workroom, a processing area, and an area for audio-visual listening and preparation.

     

     Wranosky has believed tht children should be active physically, should know how to use their hands as well as their heads, and should learn much more than what is found in textbooks.  To this end, the district initiated vocational programs, offered physical education in all grade levels, and operated an “open-air classroom” program.  Throughout the year, groups of children were taken for camping experiences to the H. E. Butt Foundation Camp at Leakey, Texas, in the hill country, at no cost to the district.  Prior o the availability of this facility, Wranosky and the Board arranged for a camp site at Hunt, Texas, at a cost of $600 per week.  “With some hard-to-reach students, we get more academic subjects taught at a camp than in a classroom,” state Wranosky.  “Students are required to set up a bank account and write checks for every purpose.  They figure the bus mileage of the trip, how much the gas costs, how much it costs per child.  They learn to cut a tree and figure its age.  They study measurements, stars, and planets.”

     The faculty, in curriculum development work, outlined a vocabulary to be taught at each spot along nature trails at camp.  The camp is a paradise for student learning and meditation.  As to extra dividends gained through camp experiences, Wranosky stated, “We’ve had children who were impossible to reach in the classroom, but somehow they came around at camp.”  He should know.  He has authorized and watched groups from the second grade through the twelfth.  Since 1952, he has overseen the organization of activities and has, at times, accompanied the groups to and from the camp.

     

Caller-Times photo, 1968

     E. J., as he is referred to, had a passion to experiment, learn, and innovate.  As a young boy in the Territory of New Mexico, he learned by doing the work of farming, ranching, dairying, and livery stable operation.  It was his lot to work, work hard. And with the dignity of honest labor, he learned other simple virtues, such as family loyalty, a love and interest in one’s neighbors, the meaning of honor and respect for old teachings.  Family ties were strong, and the Golden Rule was not vague philosophy, but taken literally.  He completed his high school education in Woodsboro and Victoria.  During these years, he worked in an automotive garage and has put this experience into practice on many occasions.  He was awarded an associate degree from Victoria Junior College and Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Texas A&I College in Kingsville.  He has completed the doctoral course work at the University of Texas and the University of Houston and has done all the research work on his dissertation.  He earned a teaching certificate from Victoria Junior College and took a job in Victoria County serving as principal, teacher, coach, and custodian.  He moved to Woodsboro and served in the Bonnie View I.S.D. as principal, teacher, superintendent, and coach for 11 years prior to coming to Flour Bluff.

     Mr. Wranosky is convinced that educators have an obligation to assist in improving their community through service in various civic activities and organizations.  He has been instrumental in organizing the Boy Scout troops and has been given the Silver Beaver Award.  He is a charter member of the Flour Bluff Lions Club and has served in many capacities in this organization.  He became a charter member of the Southside Kiwanis Club.  He is a director of the First National Bank of Flour Bluff.

     The expansion of the plant of Flour Bluff I.S.D. in both physical size and quality and quantity of offerings during Wranosky’s tenure is indeed achievement.  While he has accomplished much, he has retained the personal and lasting respect of those who know him as a man of personal as well as professional stature.

     This administrator initiated a student analysis program which resulted in curriculum production and revision and brought about an implementation of his philosophy.  “The philosophy that has been pursued by the school over the past years is primarily my philosophy of twelve points.  The additional point and the revisions are other people’s ideas,” says Wranosky.  “Nothing succeeds like success itself, and nothing fails so dismally as failure.”

Wranosky’s Philosophy and the 12 Points, plus one

     Through his selfless devotion to the welfare of Flour Bluff I.S.D., Mr. Wranosky developed an enviable level of respect for the administration of the school.  He was never too busy to assist where help was needed.  He had the courage to tackle the biggest problem – such as moving the steel framework for the physical education building – and compassion to help a custodian, neighbor, or a student who had a personal problem.  Frequently, he would hear of a student who was having a particularly difficult time with his academic work.  He would make arrangements to have that student report report to his office regularly for a given period of time in order to counsel the student and attempt to work with him to gain a success pattern in a given course or find a chore that he could perform.  His door was always open, and he was ready to listen, provide a message of hope, and a plan of action.

     A former student said, “When we had a problem, Mr. Wranosky was always willing to listen and advise us in a wise and kind manner.”  They expressed genuine appreciation for his empathy, patience and understanding in his work with pupils, teachers, and parents.  The current emphasis in education, which focuses attention upon the needs of the individual students, reflects the basic philosophy which has motivated E. J. Wranosky, Sr. for these many years.

     During the thirty years that Ernest J. Wranosky has served Flour Bluff I. S. D. as superintendent and consultant, the system has faced numerous problems, not only in its growth from 350 students to over 3,000, from 16 professional employees to over 200, from 15 graduates to 140, but in other areas, as well.  His professional, calm, and well-defined approach to each of the problems – finances, hurricanes, personnel, equipment, tax issues, buildings – is indicative of the high quality school system he has helped mold for the citizens of Flour Bluff.  His leadership abilities have brought honor, stature and recognition from throughout the state, nation, and even foreign areas in which students and personnel have reflected his standards.  His entire sojourn has been dedicated to the youth and citizens of this area and to improving their education.  He has appreciation and regard for others and the talent to communicate.

     Questioned on his sojourn in Flour Bluff Schools, Wranosky said, “Directing the academic progress of  Flour Bluff Schools as the community evolved into a fair degree of affluence has been a real challenge which brought many satisfying rewards as well as some disappointments.  I recognize that I have passed up an opportunity to build the school plant monument that I might have.  One person who is in a position of judgement  told me, ‘You could have a gold-plated school plant here if you had levied the tax that you should have.’

     “A great many people have worked extremely hard to bring about the scholastic excellence which I desired above all else. To them, especially Board and faculty, I am forever grateful.  My sojourn began with a tax value of slightly more than $5000 per pupil and some deficit.  It ends with prospects for 1976 of near $50,000 per pupil and no debt.  The tax rate has not changed in 30 years.  It is a happy situation.”

**********

Dorothy Arnold Obituary

DOROTHY THERESA ARNOLD, age 93, passed away on Friday, September 27, 2013 in Victoria, Texas. Dorothy was born on September 1, 1920 in Cuero, Texas, to William Henry “WH” Arnold and Bertha Toerck Arnold. She attended Mission Valley School and graduated from Patti Welder High School in 1936. She attended Victoria College and Mary Hardin Baylor College in Belton. She received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Education Degree from The University of Texas. Her teaching career began in 1940 at Liberty School (Victoria County) and continued for 38 years in Weesatche (Goliad County), Bonnie View (Refugio County), of which 30 years were at Flour Bluff (Nueces County) as a classroom teacher and business manager. During this time, she participated in many professional and civic organizations on local, district, state, and national levels and continued her education to obtain bachelor and master degrees as well as doing her post graduate work at The University of Texas, University of Corpus Christi, University of Houston and Texas A&I University. She received numerous awards, honors, certificates, and recognitions related to educational pursuits. After her retirement in 1978, she enjoyed rewarding years living in the Mission Valley Community doing volunteer work, church work, and continuing participation in professional and civic pursuits which included the Pilot Club of Cuero and Heirloom Stitchers Guild. Dorothy gave of her time and talent in many ways to better her community. A very important part of Dorothy’s life was her strong devotion to her church. She enjoyed her hobbies of crafts, sewing, quilting, crocheting, as well as playing cards and domino games. She is survived by loving cousins and friends.  (Source:  Rosewood Funeral Chapel website)

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Retired from education after serving 30 years (twenty-eight as an English teacher and two years as a new-teacher mentor), Shirley enjoys her life with family and friends while serving her community, church, and school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is the creator and managing editor of The Paper Trail, an online news/blog site that serves to offer new, in-depth, and insightful responses to the events of the day.  She also writes and edits for The Texas Shoreline News, a Corpus Christi print newspaper.

The Constable’s Corner: The Texas Constable

Flour Bluff, Front Page, History

     Texas Constables go way back in Texas history.  In 1823, the first Constable was appointed to be the first law enforcement officer in the future Republic of Texas and eventually the State of Texas.  His name was Thomas Alley.  In 1836, The Constitution of the Republic of Texas set forth an election for constables.  During the ten years of the republic’s existence, 38 constables were elected in twelve counties, the first being Nacogdoches County.

     When Texas became a state, the Texas Legislature passed a law saying the constable would be the “conservator of the peace” and added it was his duty to suppress all riots, routs, affrays, fighting, and unlawful assemblies. The constable was to keep the peace and arrest all offenders.  Due to the Civil War, no constables were elected from 1869 to 1872. The Texas Constitution of 1876 mandated that all constables be elected at the precinct level. Thus, all Texas Constables became constitutional office holders elected by the people.  In 1954, a constitutional amendment required all constables to be elected to a 4-year term instead of two.  This is the case today.  The Texas Constable is a Texas Constitutional office holder.

     In Texas, constables and their deputies are fully empowered peace officers with county-wide jurisdiction, and in most cases, state-wide jurisdiction.  Constables have the same training requirements as all other peace officers in the State and the same — and sometimes more — continuing training requirements.  The Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) licenses all peace officers in Texas, and the constable and his deputies fall under the jurisdiction of TCOLE along with all Texas peace officers.

     There is a popular myth that a Texas Constable is the only person who can arrest the governor or sheriff.  That’s simply not the case.  Further, Constables are authorized to make warrant-less arrests for any offense committed in their presence or view anywhere in the State of Texas, except some traffic violations not occurring in their county.  A Texas Constable may enforce all state and local laws in their county, including traffic offenses.

     The Texas Constable is commissioned by the Texas Governor as a Law Enforcement Agency.  Interestingly, the Constable is an associate member of the Texas Department of Public Safety.  The Department of Justice and the Bureau of Justice Statistics consider the Texas Constable to be a “unique” peace officer.  According to the Handbook of Texas “Today, constables numbering approximately 780 are elected from precincts in most Texas counties. Their law-enforcement roles vary widely, but in general their police powers are no different from those of other peace officers in the state. Complete records do not exist, but the most recent estimate is that at least ninety-three Texas constables have died in the line of duty, including sixty-seven in the twentieth century.”

Pct. 2 Constable Mitchell Clark

     What does your Pct. 2 constable do?   Everything law enforcement.  We provide patrol, answer calls for service, work traffic, crowd control, special events such as the Flour Bluff football games and Beach to Bay, just to name a few.  My officers serve civil papers and criminal papers.  The Constable has always been known as the “people’s police department” meaning my office is a grass roots organization, and I – along with my staff – are always available to serve.  Just call or come on by the office. You do not have to go through layers to get to me for assistance.  I was elected and am here to serve you, the citizens of Pct. 2.

Semper Fi,

Mitchell Clark

Constable

Pct. 2 Nueces County  (The Pct. 2 Constable’s office is located at 10110 Compton Drive in Flour Bluff next to the post office. You can call @ 361.937.6306 or come on by;  my door is always open.)

 

 

Up Next……..”Who is this guy?”  (Did you know your constable is a licensed attorney, a former marine, and many other interesting things?)

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Constable Clark is the duly elected official for the Pct. 2 Constable’s Office. He has been involved in the Nueces County Constable operations since 1981 and holds a Masters Peace Officers license from the State of Texas. He is a licensed attorney in Texas and Tennessee and in the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a former Marine with assignments as a military policeman with a specialty in corrections and as highly prestigious Marine Corps Drill Instructor @ MCRD San Diego. Constable Clark knows the law.

The Constable’s Corner: Of Kings and Constables

Corpus Christi, Flour Bluff, Front Page, Government and Politics, History

Welcome to the Constable’s Corner.  This is the first in what will be a series of articles from Mitchell Clark, the duly elected Constable, Pct. 2, Nueces County, Texas, on various topics of interest which relate to the constable operations in Precinct 2. 

King Alfred the Great successfully defended his kingdom against the Viking attempt at conquest, and by the time of his death had become the dominant ruler in England. He reigned from 871-899 A.D. and is credited with establishing the first constables in Wessex.

     For the past four years, television audiences have been captivated by Vikings, a made-for-television series on the History Channel. Viewers have “witnessed” the bloody battles between the Vikings and the European monarchs that played out during the 8th century.  As the fifth season begins, viewers will get a glimpse into the life of Alfred, son of Aethwulf and grandson of Egbert (both kings of Wessex), a man who would one day be called “Alfred the Great.” This mighty king of Wessex changed his country forever.

     According to the BBC History site, aside from successfully running the Vikings out of Wessex, he built up the defenses of his kingdom, reorganized his army, built a series of well-defended settlements across southern England, established a navy for use against the Danish raiders who continued to harass the coast, and advocated justice and order and established a code of laws and a reformed coinage. “He had a strong belief in the importance of education and learnt Latin in his late thirties. He then arranged, and himself took part in, the translation of books from Latin to Anglo-Saxon.”  In addition, Alfred the Great established the office of constable, an office that exists today in some fashion all over the world – even in Nueces County.

     Historically, the title “Constable” comes from the Latin stabuli , which means “attendant to the stables, literally count of the stable” and originated from the Roman Empire.  The constable was the officer responsible for keeping the horses of a lord or monarch. The West European term “constable” itself was adopted, via the Normans, as konostaulos (Grand Constable) in the Komnenian and Palaiologan periods, when it became a high military office of dignity. The title was imported to the monarchies of medieval Europe, and in many countries developed into a high military rank and great officer of state.  Such was the case of the Constable of France (Connétable de France) who was the commander-in-chief of all royal armed forces and second to the king until Prime Minister Cardinal Richelieu abolished the charge in 1627.

Historically, a constable could also refer to a castellan, the officer charged with the defense of a castle. Even today, there is a Constable of the Tower of London.

     Later Roman administrative titles were used by Charlemagne in developing his empire.  The position of Constable, along with the similar office of Marshal, spread throughout the emerging states of Western Europe during this period.  In most medieval nations, the constable was the highest-ranking officer of the army, and was responsible for the overseeing of martial law.  Following Alfred the Great’s lead, the office of the constable was introduced in England following the Norman Conquest of 1066 and was responsible for the keeping and maintenance of the king’s armaments and those of the villages as a measure of protecting individual settlements throughout the country.

     The system of policing by unpaid parish constables continued in England until the 19th century.  In the London metropolitan area, it was ended by the creation of the Metropolitan Police by the Metropolitan Police Act 1829 and by the County Police Constabularies outside London by the County Police Act 1839. Together these led to all counties having various constabularies of full-time professionals.

Early Constables in England serving a warrant
Early Constables in England serving a warrant

    Europe moved west, and the Constable became the keeper of the peace in Colonial America. David Johnson writes in his book, American Law Enforcement: A History, “More than 350 years ago, America’s first known system of law enforcement was established in Boston.  As soon as colonists had settled there in 1630, local ordinances had allowed for constables to be appointed. Soon after, in April 1631, the townspeople formed a “watch” made up of six watchmen, one constable, and several volunteers who patrolled at night, walking the rounds. 

     “Initially run by a combination of obligatory and voluntary participation, the 17th century watch typically reported fires, maintained order in the streets, raised the “hue and cry” (pursuing suspected criminals with loud cries to raise alarm), and captured and arrested lawbreakers. Constables had similar tasks, which included maintaining health and sanitation and bringing suspects and witnesses to court—frequently for such conduct as working on the Sabbath, cursing in public places, and failing to pen animals properly.”

Prohibition of Tobacco from The Code of 1650, Being a Compilation of the Earliest Laws and Orders of the General Court of Connecticut edited by Silas Andrus, 1830
Prohibition of Tobacco from The Code of 1650, Being a Compilation of the Earliest Laws and Orders of the General Court of Connecticut edited by Silas Andrus, 1830

     Interestingly, Constables can be found, even today, abroad in such places as Hong Kong, Denmark, Finland, Norway, United Kingdom, India, Channel Islands, Australia,  and Canada.

    In the United States, the role of a constable varied from state to state as the new nation formed.  Then, in 1823, the famous Texas Constable was born!

Up Next!……….Part Two

“The Texas Constable”

References:

  1.  Alastair, Bruce.  Keepers of the Kingdom. New York, NY: Vendome Press, 1999.
  2. “Constable,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 20 July 1998. www.britannica.com/topic/constable. Access date: March 6, 2017.
  3. “Constable.”  Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. www.en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Constable&oldid=767456104.  Access date: March 6, 2017.
  4. Johnson, David R. American Law Enforcement: A History. Wheeling, IL: Forum Press, 1981.
  5. Jones, A.H.M., ed. The Later Roman Empire 284-602. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell, 1964.
  6. Kazhdan, Alexander, ed. Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium. Oxford University Press, 1991.
  7. Slater, Stephen. The Complete Book of Heraldry. London: Lorenz Books, 2002.

NOTE:  Nueces County Pct. 2 Constable Mitchell Clark can be contacted at the Nueces County Building in Flour Bluff, located at 10110 Compton Road, Corpus Christi, TX 78418.  361.937.6306    Constable Clark’s door is always open.  He is there to serve you!

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Constable Clark is the duly elected official for the Pct. 2 Constable’s Office. He has been involved in the Nueces County Constable operations since 1981 and holds a Masters Peace Officers license from the State of Texas. He is a licensed attorney in Texas and Tennessee and in the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a former Marine with assignments as a military policeman with a specialty in corrections and as highly prestigious Marine Corps Drill Instructor @ MCRD San Diego. Constable Clark knows the law.