HOUSTON -

North Forest Independent School District officials talked Monday about their plans to meet a performance deadline that will allow them to keep control of the district.

The Texas Education Agency originally said NFISD would be taken over by the Houston Independent School District at the end of this school year. On Friday, the TEA said North Forest could keep control of the district for one more year.

The district will have to spend that year improving dropout rates, test scores and overall academic record.

The TEA described the district's financial situation as grave and has ordered North Forest to draw up a plan to repay millions of dollars in capitol debt and taxes.

Chris Tritico, the attorney for NFISD, said, "There are ways (North Forest ISD) can do this without putting the district into deeper hole, and the money is being spent in the right way."

The district's superintendent, Edna Forte, said she was pleased with the TEA's decision and will immediately begin working on ways to meet the agency's guidelines before the deadline. She said she is committed to the education of the 7,000 students enrolled in the district.

She said the district has launched "Project Transformation" to improve both teacher and student performance.

State Rep. Senfronia Thompson said, "There's merit in keeping this school district open, there are wrinkles that can be straightened out."

In July 2013, the TEA will review the district's progress and at that time will decide if North Forest can stay open or must close.