The La Joya Independent School District Board of Trustees voted in Esmeralda “Esmer” Solis as its president Wednesday.
Solis, an owner of a packing and shipping franchise, has served on the board for a little over a year.
Alex Cantu, the board’s previous president, noted Wednesday that trustees’ traditional practice is to rotate the presidency annually and said it was “time to pass the torch to somebody else.”
The motion passed.
Cantu nominated Solis for president, along with Trustee Nereyda Cantu for vice president and Trustee Anthony Uresti for secretary.
“I know that I will serve the district to the best of my abilities,” Solis, a former Agua Special Utility Board Member, said. “I know that it’ll be a lot of work, but I’m willing to do that.”
A potential Texas Education Agency takeover hangs over the district.
Solis has been part of a majority slate on the board that opposes intervention.
In November, members of that slate offered to tender their resignations in an effort to avoid the state coming in.
So far, the state hasn’t taken them up on the offer.
Solis says that gesture — along with a variety of corrective governance actions — show the commitment of the district and members of the board to change and cooperation with the state.
She also said that she doesn’t intend for her presidency to be exclusively dominated by the elephant in the room that’s potential state intervention.
“We have been proactive from the minute this started,” Solis said. “So I think that the district is in a very good position. We’re going to do everything in our power, and we have been all this time. I just don’t think that the decision from TEA is something that’s holding us back from doing other things. We’ve always been trying to move forward regardless of whether or not we have this black cloud over our district.”
Solis will be taking over a board that’s spent most of this year bitterly divided.
The Cantus, Solis and Uresti make up the majority slate on the board; they continued to hold all the officer positions Wednesday.
They have, at times this year, clashed bitterly with the board’s de facto minority slate, made up of trustees Alda Benavides, Mary T. Hernandez and Roberto Zamora.
Generally along that faction line, trustees have butted heads in recent months about things like state intervention, the district’s superintendent selection and reform initiatives.
Solis acknowledged that division Wednesday and acknowledged how difficult it would likely be to overcome.
“It’s very hard to answer that question,” Solis said. “I wish I could tell you. My goal is not to have a divided board. My goal would be to have a unanimous board that would be willing to move forward.”
Solis said she hopes communication can play a role in a more harmonious board.
“We don’t need to think alike, but we need to think together,” she said.