Presidio school board candidate questionnaire

PRESIDIO — Early voting for the Presidio Independent School District School Board began April 19, with Election Day on May 1. Three full-term, at-large positions are up for grabs, with seven candidates squaring off for seats. While current Boardmember Luis Lozano is not seeking a seat, Board Vice President Velva Saenz and Board Secretary Alfredo P. Muniz are running for re-election. The incumbents, along with newcomer Gabriela Hernandez, did not complete a questionnaire, but four hopefuls, Iris S. Galindo, Juventino “Tino” Martinez, Roxana “Roxy” Cabello and Jusby Vasquez responded to The Presidio International to share more about their candidacies.

Iris S. Galindo

Tell us about yourself. What experience will you bring to this role?
My name is Iris S. Galindo. I’m a graduate from Presidio High School and former educator at Presidio ISD. I’m a mother of two children, Marina S. Sanchez and Samuel Sanchez III. My husband of 20 years is Samuel Sanchez. We are currently business owners here in Presidio. I was a special education teacher and coach here in Presidio for eight years and one year in Fabens, Texas. As a parent, business owner and former educator, I think I can bring many new ideas and different points of view to the board. I am a very open-minded person, and I am willing to learn from the experienced members. 

With school district budgets limited, what do you see as a priority for the upcoming budget cycle?
My priority will always be enhancing student learning and well-being.

Some residents have complained about a lack of transparency and responsiveness to parent, student and staff needs. For example, there were at least two instances last year where the school board appeared to violate state open-meetings rules. How can PISD improve its relationship and communication with the broader community?
Open-door policy, we need to make sure we are available and listen to the needs of our students, parents and staff members. We all have to work together as a team to have a better learning community.

Because of disruptions caused by the pandemic, students across the country have fallen behind on academics and missed out on social milestones. How would you as a board member address these academic and emotional needs?
I believe Presidio ISD has been doing an excellent job dealing with the pandemic. As many school districts in Texas are only doing virtual classes, Presidio ISD has both virtual and in-person teaching to better meet the needs of our students, academically and emotionally. Our teachers and students have done an extraordinary job adjusting to the pandemic. I would make sure we are up-to-date with the pandemic so that the district can adjust to what’s best for our students. We would all have to be constantly educating everyone in the district as needed to adjust to the on going pandemic crisis.

Juventino “Tino” Martinez

Tell us about yourself. What experience will you bring to this role?
My name is Juventino Martinez, I go by “Tino.” I graduated Class of 1999 here at PHS and I work for the City of Presidio at our landfill as a supervisor. The experience I will bring to this role will be my decisions and actions with facts and data for our community and school staff as well. Especially our students’ expectations and goals and needs on our students’ achievements.

With school district budgets limited, what do you see as a priority for the upcoming budget cycle?
What I see as a priority for the upcoming budget cycle is our school staff, meaning teachers, coaches, teachers’ aides, front office personnel, our school cafeteria, and all the way to our school custodians. And especially a priority is our students’ education. 

Some residents have complained about a lack of transparency and responsiveness to parent, student and staff needs. For example, there were at least two instances last year where the school board appeared to violate state open-meetings rules. How can PISD improve its relationship and communication with the broader community?
How can it improve its relationship and communication? Simple; let’s not forget who put the school board member to lead, the community did! The community has the right to know in any way or form and not push them to the side and ignore the community. Through the internet, the school page online, the newspaper, letters, or face our community with questions and answers in person. 

Because of disruptions caused by the pandemic, students across the country have fallen behind on academics and missed out on social milestones. How would you as a board member address these academic and emotional needs?
To address academic and emotional needs caused by the pandemic for our students, I do agree they have fallen behind. I have four kids/students at home that attend PISD in every campus. As a parent and possible school board member, let’s not blame our teachers. Let’s be more supportive at home and at school for our kids/students at every academic level and support our teachers and coaches and staff members for not giving up on our students in this pandemic.

Roxana “Roxy” Cabello

Tell us about yourself. What experience will you bring to this role?
Hello, my name is Roxana Cabello, and I am 38 years old. I am a single mom of two children, ages 18 and 14. I currently work for the Texas Department of Health & Human Services. I have always been passionate about being involved in my kids’ lives as much as possible and showing them that everything is possible when you put your mind to it. I have always been involved as a parent, being PTO president for over three years at the elementary level and a PTO member for middle school and high school. I have always taken pride in representing parents, their concerns and being their voice in school. Having that experience as a PTO member for so many years gives me the knowledge of how the system works and a good relationship with faculty and staff to be able to voice anything and be a positive influence for our children’s benefit. 

With school district budgets limited, what do you see as a priority for the upcoming budget cycle?
Top priority should always be being able to provide what is needed for our student’s success and in my opinion, priority should be staff. Having our staff working in a premiere environment is key, whether we are talking about salary and having the tools and proper establishment to do their job as best as possible. There is a saying I am very fond of: Happy chicken lay more eggs! 

Some residents have complained about a lack of transparency and responsiveness to parent, student and staff needs. For example, there were at least two instances last year where the school board appeared to violate state open-meetings rules. How can PISD improve its relationship and communication with the broader community?
Last year was a very difficult year for everyone, the school was not an exception. I truly believe we ALL could have done a better job. This pandemic made us realize we need to improve one of the most important issues, which is communication. Not only does the school have the responsibility to let us know what is going on in a timely manner, but we as parents can also be more involved. We the parents can take more initiative to call, ask questions and voice our opinions. After all, if we don’t do it for our kids, who will? Trying to reach a better parent involvement is a very hard task. Life is always in the way, whether it’s working late or making dinner, but one thing that I consider could improve it is using social media, and having meetings at a later time or recording them so parents who cannot attend can still get the info by accessing them at a later time.

Because of disruptions caused by the pandemic, students across the country have fallen behind on academics and missed out on social milestones. How would you as a board member address these academic and emotional needs?
As board members, we can try to find alternatives for our students. For instance, prom: we can make an outdoor prom at a park and take the proper COVID-19 measures and precautions. We need to find ways to have incentives to keep motivating our students to succeed. We can have tutorials and have open forums for students who are behind and maybe even for parents too, so we can help out students at home as well. 

Jusby Vazquez

Tell us about yourself. What experience will you bring to this role?
My name is Jusby Vazquez, I am married and I have three daughters that are in fourth and 9th grade. My husband and I both grew up and attended school in Presidio. I’m currently employed at Rosalba Vazquez Income and Notary Service, as a tax preparer and notary public. I am a person that likes to help out the community as much as I can. I have volunteered at PYSA as a T-ball coach for three years, and last year I was a member of the PTO meeting committee. I am also a DWEIC member for the high school. Last year several parents and I began volunteering every other Friday to have what we call “Fun Friday.” The purpose of this activity was to provide an incentive for students to increase their attendance.

Some of the main components of being able to participate in all of these groups is having good communication skills, being open to others’ ideas and being able to execute a plan. With this experience, I plan on helping improve the relationship between parents, teachers and our school board members. There was a lot of dissatisfaction last semester due to the lack of transparency regarding decisions made during the peak of the pandemic, and I think in order to improve our education system, we need to all work together, because at the end of the day, we all want what is best for our students.

As I mentioned before, I do a lot of volunteering with elementary school kids and I have developed a good relationship with our teachers, other parent volunteers, and our principals and I hope that this helps with the communication barrier that seems to be in place at the moment.

With school district budgets limited, what do you see as a priority for the upcoming budget cycle?
I think we can all agree that when the world came to a screeching halt, the people we saw really stepping up to the plate, regardless of the circumstances, were our teachers and their aides. We need to pay our debt to them, and I think prioritizing them is a way to do it. I think we need to make sure raises go to those who deserve them, those that really put everything on the line to help our students keep moving forward.

Regardless of the pandemic, retaining good teachers in Presidio is a challenge in itself and when you have good employees trading their upper positions for lower ones, abruptly retiring, or actively looking for another career, to me this is a red flag that teachers are not happy. I think this needs to be addressed urgently and assessed to see what we can do to change this. Maybe we need to provide better incentives for them. It is imperative that we hire more qualified teachers too so that our class sizes can be reduced and our education system can be improved.

We also need to prioritize funding to keep our students safe from COVID and funding the supplies and materials our teachers need to keep everyone safe.

Some residents have complained about a lack of transparency and responsiveness to parent, student and staff needs. For example, there were at least two instances last year where the school board appeared to violate state open-meetings rules. How can PISD improve its relationship and communication with the broader community?
I think first, we need to remember why we are here as elected school board members, which is not for our benefit but for the benefit and well-being of our kids and our community. Taking that into account, I think we need to do our part in getting parents involved in our school board meetings. For example, now with the pandemic and with there being limitations on the number of people allowed to be in a room, I think meetings should be live streamed and recorded for parents to see. Informing parents of school board meetings (just as we inform them of those times that we need them to show up for volunteering activities, PTO meetings, or school parties), should not be an aggravation but an invitation for us to do better as a community. I think a simple text or a note could be a place to start.

Following protocols in place and being transparent should not be a problem when we have nothing to hide.

Because of disruptions caused by the pandemic, students across the country have fallen behind on academics and missed out on social milestones. How would you as a board member address these academic and emotional needs?
I think this would be an excellent opportunity for our teachers, counselors, school board members and superintendent to work together. Who has better knowledge of what a child’s academic needs and emotional milestones should be at different stages than our teachers and counselors? I think we have these great people to use as tools, available for us, and to not use their expertise would be a great waste. I think we would be able to come up with a plan if we all work together and listen to what everyone’s experience brings to the table. One thing I try to keep in mind is that we are all good at our jobs, and if we let each other carry out our own duties and responsibilities, we can work faster and more effectively.


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