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New MCISD board members talk morale

20140513 MCISD-new-board-members AF  7606 featureMISSION—The A+ Team swept the Mission CISD School Board election Saturday, bringing 85 collective years of experience in education with them.

Minnie Rodgers, who ran for Place 7, said now that elections are over, the stress has been lifted and the fun begins. Rodgers won Place 7 with 1,489 votes. She had a 592-vote difference over incumbent Oscar Martinez who earned 897 votes. Rick Venecia, the third candidate for Place 7, earned 1,197 votes.

In Place 1, Roy Vela won with 2,385 votes against Marcie Gonzalez Acosta who earned 1,149 votes. Petra Ramirez took Place 6 with 1,490 votes, while A.C. Pruneda earned 1,133 votes and Rigo Sariñana earned 952 votes.

Vela said after meeting with MCISD Superintendent Ricardo Lopez he knows it is time to make improvements throughout the district, one step at a time.

“Small consistent movements of progression is better than none,” Vela said. “Our goal is to improve as a team, that we improve in all fashions and all areas from test scores to having a sound budget to having benefits that are appealing to the employees of the district.”

Leadership direction is something Ramirez would like to focus on as a newcomer to the board. She added administration has a lot to do with the energy and focus of the district and the individual campuses.

“If you don’t have a happy campus, if your faculty is not happy and the morale is low, you are not going to get good results,” Ramirez said. “I think that is what has been happening to us.”

Teachers need to be excited and eager every morning, Ramirez said. Positivity, she added, is something that trickles through the environment to the classrooms. Vela agreed and said the three don’t know why morale is low but they hope to research and find out.

Rodgers said she would like to see stronger lines of communication between students, parents and the district. She would also like communication between staff and administration to be less strained.

All three agreed they would like to eliminate fear from speaking about concerns.

“I’ve already been told, ‘What is the use of speaking out?’ They are afraid of retaliation,” Vela said. “Even though people try to say it constructively. Constructive criticism in my opinion is good. You are trying to make it better, you are trying to tweak the system.”

This week, MCISD interviewed consultants for health, dental and life insurance. Vela said it is one of his priorities to find affordable coverage for district staff. He added he recently received a call from an employee who told him in some cases, staff is paying more than $1,200 per month for health coverage for families.

“To me, that is a salary and that is also unacceptable,” Vela said. “This is crazy; this is why so many people are not insured. And I don’t blame them. We need to have better comprehensive benefits for employees that are appealing.”

The new board members would like to take a more active role with Lopez and visit campuses, listen to staff and learn more about the district and its needs.

Currently, the board has four members whose places were not up for election: Dr. Sonia M. Treviño, Patty Bazaldua, Patricia O’Caña-Olivarez and J.C. Avila. Rodgers said she along with Ramirez and Vela are excited to meet with the other board members to begin work on the district.

“We need to be professionals,” Rodgers said. “And just because we (A+ Team) all know each other, does not mean we love each other all the time. We have all had our ups and downs. We do disagree, but then we get over it and life moves on.”

Overall, the newcomers said they hope to join the board for a fresh start at creating a stronger district. They also hope to contribute to the district by keeping a sound budget and keeping needs at the forefront over wants.

“We want to get Mission where it used to be and it takes a team of eight, including the superintendent,” Rodgers said.

Canvassing of the results is scheduled for May 20 during a special meeting of the board of trustees at 7 p.m.

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