Harlandale and San Antonio independent school district trustees have drawn opponents in the May 1 elections, while other open seats are up for grabs.
Recent controversies surrounding administrators’ procurement practices, internal financial controls and work by a former contractor have resulted in a state-appointed conservator.
Residents also mourned District 3 trustee Esequiel “Zeke” Mendoza, who died Feb. 21 at age 61. He spent 12 years on the school board.
Retiree Lillian Zapata and educator Louie Luna filed for District 3, where Mendoza had sought reelection to another four-year term. Zapata was disqualified, however, after failing to meet voter-registration requirements, officials said.
Luna has taught in HISD for 32 years. The former adjunct professor at Texas A&M University-San Antonio volunteers with COPS/Metro and the Harlandale Education Association.
The instructor said he has the experience and insight to advocate for the school district, and to improve opportunities for pupils, teachers and community members.
Former trustee David Abundis is challenging District 4 trustee and board President Norma Cavazos.
Director of state and federally funded programs at the South San Independent School District, Abundis, a one-time schoolteacher and principal, spent 13 years as an HISD trustee before resigning in July 2019.
His priorities include how HISD handles in-person and online classes post-COVID-19, and helping students overcome learning disruptions caused by the pandemic.
“We should also focus on how the district plans to address the continuous loss in enrollment,” he added.
Cavazos, a Bexar County Courthouse court coordinator, was the only person who applied to replace Abundis in 2019.
The nearly 30-year Harlandale resident has been an active parent/volunteer in HISD schools.
Her campaign highlights the district’s pandemic response, including raising teachers’ retention stipends, and ensuring faculty, staff and students have the equipment and support to proceed with remote learning.
“Being a proud HISD parent of two, it is my genuine intention to continue to make our children’s success a priority,” she added.
In a 2017 rematch, insurance agent Orlando Salazar again faces District 2 trustee Christine Carrillo, a homemaker.
Salazar has been active in the HISD community and a vocal critic of its leadership for years. Last time, his campaign chided Carrillo for absenteeism at board meetings. He didn’t respond to requests for information.
Seeking a third term, Carrillo wishes to remain on a school board she described as “respectful and is working well together.”
Carrillo added HISD leadership is eager to regain local control after oversight by state-appointed conservator Judy Castleberry.
Board vice president and District 1 trustee Juan Mancha is unopposed.
SAN ANTONIO ISD
Former District 3 Councilwoman Leticia Ozuna and Judit Vega, food-justice coordinator with the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, vie to succeed outgoing District 3 trustee Debra Guerrero.
A Brackenridge High School alumna, Vega wants district leaders to keep pupils’ and employees’ well-being foremost as the community emerges from the pandemic.
“Our students, our school workers, and our familias are the heart of our schools and we must unite together to co-create healthy communities and thriving children,” Vega said.
Ozuna, a cybersecurity systems engineer, is a San Antonio Water System trustee and PTA member.
She’s concerned about SAISD’s post-pandemic plans for in-person, remote and hybrid learning, and about the outbreak’s impact on students’ performance and stability.
“We must be innovative in addressing recovery — academic and emotional,” Ozuna added.
COVID-19 case investigator Sarah Sorensen opposes two-term District 1 trustee Steve Lecholop, an attorney and King William Historic District resident.
Sorensen, a Lavaca Neighborhood Association leader, founded the Our Schools Coalition, which promotes student-centered public education.
The SAISD parent/volunteer wants learners, employees, families and community members to have a greater voice in district decisions.
She also backs creating community schools with wraparound services, and “prioritizing curriculum and strategies that are culturally relevant, culturally sustaining and anti-racist, and reduce the use of standardized testing and computer-based assessments.”
An SAISD parent and former teacher, Lecholop said the district must make “student-centered, transparent decisions that will improve academic outcomes for kids.”
“As our community recovers from COVID-19, stable leadership is critical to ensuring that the changes we’ve implemented are sustainable,” he added.
Early voting is 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 19-22 and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 24 and 26-27. Locations include Mission Branch Library, 3134 Roosevelt Ave.; Southside ISD Central Office, 1460 Martinez Losoya Road; Palo Alto College Performing Arts Center, 1400 W. Villaret Blvd.; and McCreless Branch Library, 1023 Ada St.