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Southeast Bexar County Awareness: Southside ISD more about money than education
Community Members Wondering Why?
So many questions and very little answers were coming from any and every direction. The Southside ISD School Board had been in a negative spot light since May of 2013, when a group of close friends and relatives, called a "team", by Sylvia Ruiz Mendelsohn took control over the school board.
Several of the members served together on the Emergency Service District #6 Board and went through nearly a million dollars of funding in less than a year, all left the board in dire finances.
Yet, individuals in the same district voted to have them take over the school district as well, leading the district in the same financial straights as the ESD#6, having a piggy bank worth 23 times more than they had gone through while sitting on the ESD#6 board.
Parents want unqualified Superintendent Out!
It didn't matter....
when the elections were going on that these individuals had histories of debt, legal issues and bully issues. Why? Some community members said it was because they were promised things for their votes.
Since a great portion of the staff at Southside ISD left the district due to board micromanaging that was beyond the duties of school board member. The new "team" had taken to hiring their staff from within their circle friends, family members and political supporters.
Money was not an object when it came to giving away jobs to their supporters. The Superintendent, Ricardo Vela, received a heft pay raise from $82,000 at his previous job to about $250,000 with all the benefits at Southside ISD, while his wife took a position that paid between $40,000 to $50,000 a year for a whopping $90,000. These are just two individuals out of several, to include Vela's brother and head coach at Southside ISD. Vela's son was also hired at the district.
How they manage your tax dollars
Where are your tax dollars?
WHAT ARE THEY SPENDING IT ON
HOW MUCH ARE THEY SPENDING
8% (4 FROM PREVIOUS BOARD, 4 FROM THE "TEAM",
1.00 an hour more
ATHLETIC FIELD TURF
1.8 MILLION +
WELL OVER BUDGET
OVER A MILLION
NEW SCORE BOARD
OVER A MILLION
PAY OFF SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER ALMA ESTRADA
VEHICLE FOR BOARD MEMBERS/SUPERINTENDENT FOR AWAY GAMES
STIPENDS FOR COACHES
A sofa sleeper for the Superintendents office
District wide community counseling
Parent -Student Education Center- as with ESD6 it's symantics: Another word for Ms. Mendeloshn's Community Center
Where did it go?
The "team" at Southside ISD showed time after time that they didn't care about the education, it was about the financial gains and the athletic department.
- The district lost over 135 teachers/staff members
- The board/superintendent reassigned qualified individuals to positions that they were overqualified for, not utilizing them where they were needed, some claimed it was because they were not a part of the "inner circle".
- The "team" and superintendent placed under qualified and non certified individuals in positions they shouldn't be holding.
Education was at best in the background of their goals.
It Matters Now...
The "team" took over when the district had $23 million dollars in its account for contingencies. With growth, the district might need a new school. The funding was used to put in an artificial turf, a jumbotron scoreboard, a new floor in the dance team gym and other athletic department areas including pay raises for the coaches
They paid over $50,000 to the Deputy Superintendent's spouse and son for "contract" reasons.
Now it matters, but it may be too little too late.The outcry from the community had fallen on deaf ears and very little action had been taken.Other than a community member who started a petition drive, no one got involved.
Then the 2015 elections began and it all quickly changed.
Taking an oath....
Getting Ready for legal action...
since the district came under the investigation for it's hiring practices, they have called a meeting to vote on hiring special council to represent them as it pertains to the letters from T.E.A. Recap: T.E.A. has required that they have an independent group look into their hiring practices and report back to T.E.A. before the end of the year (Dec).
This alone will cost the district tax payers dearly.
They recently passed a compensation salary plan, but since there is no transparency involved, one can only speculate whom is getting compensated.
Board Members Looking for Money Tree
Made clear by the choices that they made; that it was all in the interest of spending and making money. Those things that Mr. Brewer was "against" during his previous term as board president.
They passed an action item that would allow the district to turn into a shopping mall of sorts. That would have allowed the "team" to move businesses into the district.
The first item up for grabs was exploring the idea of bringing a bank onto the district. This had many guessing which banks from the Valley would end up at Southside, since Ricardo Vela brought many of his friends and family from the Valley to work at the district.
Another member of the "team", Alma Estrada had a family member in the ATM business. Would they gain access to the district and financially gain from the boards decision?
Board members looking for a fall guy?
The board was under T.E.A investigation, so they put it to a vote during a special called meeting at Noon. to give all authority to Superintendent Ricardo Vela. He would now be the one to approve overnight trips, recently giving him authority to oversee all hiring. This was done, according to the 'team" to keep the board members from having to have special called meetings.
Records showed, that the "team" had an unprecedented number of special board meetings; 17 special board meetings at various times of the day. None of the items pressing or emergency items.
It lead community members to speculate that the "team" was setting themselves up to do what they wanted, through their highly paid Superintendent as the fall guy.