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20120420-Mugs-of-CandidatesElection Q&A: MCISD board of trustees

Editor’s note: Over the next several weeks, the Progress Times will ask Mission Consolidated Independent School District board of trustees candidates a series of questions about the district and its future. Candidates were given a word limit for each question. If a candidate went beyond the limit, their response was cut. Place 4 candidate Jorge Esquivel did not reply to the request for participation. The candidates for contested results were asked to participate; J.C. Avila, candidate for Place 5 was not included because the race for the seat is uncontested.

Update on April 20: Due to a technical glitch, Place 3 candidate Patty Bazaldua’s response to question three was omitted. The response was included in her answers sent to the Progress Times by the set deadline. The answer is included in the online version.

• What qualifications do you have that make you an ideal candidate for the MCISD board?

Sonia Treviño, Place 2 incumbent: As a mission product, my education, experience, and proven success in business, finance, and community involvement distinguishes me from my opponent. My track record shows consistency in making informed, bold, and fair decisions for the best interest of all stakeholders in our district.

Hector Gonzalez, Place 2 candidate: In my 18 years of working for the City of McAllen and in my current position as the network services manager, I have been afforded the privilege and responsibility of working with one of the Valley’s largest and progressive cities and its leaders. I am an energetic and dedicated individual.

Moises “Moy” Iglesias, Place 3 incumbent: My 30+ years in the military, 18+ years in construction and my past five years of serving on the board has given me the knowledge and experience to serve as chairman of the board’s Facilities Committee. I worked to ensure that millions of dollars of bond money were spent wisely.

Patty Bazaldua, Place 3 candidate: Currently I am actively serving as a Mission CISD school board member and I believe my board experience will be valuable in providing continuity of growth within our district. As an entrepreneur business owner, I demonstrate high quality management, organization and progressive vision.

Romeo Sanchez, Place 3 candidate: As a small business owner with formal education in business administration, I’m the ideal candidate because I possess the ability to work well in a group environment and support group decisions. As MCISD board member, I will look after the best interest of our children, taxpayers, and the community.

Patricia O’Caña-Olivarez, Place 4 incumbent: As a trustee for 4 years I served as chairwoman of the Finance Committee and been a member of the Facilities and Insurance committees. I am also an attorney and mediator. I have experience, insight, and am informed in these areas.

What do you think are the strengths of the district? How does MCISD build on them?

Treviño: Our greatest strength is in our teachers. They strive to educate and motivate our students while also battling against truancy and drugs. I continue to be amazed with the passion of involvement of our community and the pride taken in our children.

Gonzalez: Teachers and staff are by far our greatest strengths, the center focus and backbone of our district, aside from our greatest assets – our children and students. I will advocate to build upon the resources needed for every teacher and their classroom.

Iglesias: Our teachers and staff are MCISD’s strength.  They have years of combined experience and are the district‘s prime resource. They can best identify students’ academic needs and the best means of meeting those needs. Trust, professionalism and open communication between all parties involved in our students’ education are a must.

Bazaldua: Mission CISD is committed to providing students with an excellent education, offering many extra-curricular activities and employing highly qualified teachers at competitive salaries. Student safety is of utmost priority. We continue to build on the fundamentals of high standard education while building relationships with the community.

Sanchez: Our district has a wealth of well-qualified teachers and staff that are in the business of educating our children. We must continue to promote an environment conducive to learning where parents, teachers, and administrators are partners in education whose main focus is to serve the needs of our children.

O’Caña-Olivarez: Our teachers and administrators’ work ethics and dedication are the district’s strengths. During this budget crisis and lack of state funding, MCISD employees are a credit to learning how to do more with less. MCISD built on this by staying dedicated to making our children succeed, regardless of this situation.

What do you see as internal district weaknesses?

Treviño: One of the weaknesses of our district is lack of communication between our administration and teachers. This has currently stifled our districts ability to make significant improvements in critical areas. As a result, this has decreased staff moral. Acknowledging the problem is a step in the right direction.

Gonzalez: All school districts, including ours, have fallen victim to the economic crisis and the reduction from state funding. I would like to see our school board put a direct emphasis on “cost saving” strategies to provide financial stability, district growth and development, while reducing the financial burden on our taxpayers.

Iglesias: Lack of communication along the chain of command is a weakness. We are a large school district with many personnel at all levels. Communication can break down, but one of my goals is to improve this weakness in order to make a difference to those who matter most, our students.

Bazaldua: Recent state funding cuts has forced our district into various financial modifications resulting in student program adjustments i.e.:  UIL (at elementary level), extra-curricular activities, hiring and pay raise freezes. As a result of excellent administration and board management, this year all employees will receive a pay increase.

Sanchez: As the challenge for meeting Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) becomes more burdensome, we must find capable leaders who have the foresight or vision to guide the district and its students to success. We must capitalize on our strengths and eliminate our weaknesses.

O’Caña-Olivarez: At times it seems that communication needs to improve between departments, teachers, and administrators. Working as a cohesive unit will promote success.

• How would you describe the appropriate roles of board members and MCISD staff  (administrators and teachers) and their relation to each other?

Treviño: One of the primary responsibilities of a board member is to work collaboratively in recruiting, hiring, and evaluating the performance of the superintendent. The board is also responsible for working closely with school administration in setting goals and adopting policy, which affects instructional programs.

Gonzalez: The role of a board member comprises of adopting goals and priorities that it set forth for the district to be put into action. The board is also responsible for adopting an annual budget, adopting policies that govern the district, and holding the superintendent accountable in the management of the district.

Iglesias: The board is the governing body and policy maker. As such, we must strive to understand the challenges associated with the jobs of the various district employees. Mutual respect and honest communication between the board and staff members of MCISD will allow us to meet with success in all endeavors.

Bazaldua: The professional role of school leaders begins with respect for one's self, students, teachers and the community. It is imperative that we maintain open communication and offer transparency of intent and actions. Developing systems that benefit the district, as a whole, rather than special interest.

Sanchez: The role of school board members, as it pertains to MCISD staff, should be to provide support, direction, and a long-term vision that promotes an effective and efficient structure for our schools. As community representative, he/she must ensure accountability to the public for the performance and success of their schools.

O’Caña-Olivarez: The law mandates that a school board is to be a “policy making board.” To do that, we need to be adequately informed. This should encourage us to have a good relationship with staff members who are able to provide us with their perspective.

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