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Southeast Bexar County Awareness: Southside ISD Dysfunctional Board and Ready for Change
Shuffling the Deck
Aug 2014, the Southside ISD school board met to vote on tax rates. While they voted for them to stay unchanged, their agenda made it seem like they were increasing them by approximately 28%. What was explained by their finance director, was that they expected the increase to come for tax revenue, due to the rising cost of property taxes. The district was gearing up to spend the additional $3 million dollars that they expected to earn.
Since the election process started at Southside ISD, the district who claimed to have great transparency stopped posting the finance records since February, when candidates picked up their packets. The community now has no way of knowing what they are spending money on unless they request items through public information act. The district has made it costly to request said items, countermanding the fact of transparency.
The board "team" at Southside ISD does not worry about the future financial responsibility of the district, they have show their lack of concern with spending funds when they get it or expect to get it; not taking into consideration, that in the near future, they will have out spent what they receive in tax revenue. Three of the seven members ran the ESD #6 in southeast Bexar County the same way, until it was in financial turmoil. The catalyst in that issue and the biggest supporter of the Southside ISD "team" is one and the same, Sylvia Ruiz Mendelsohn. Ms. Mendelsohn left the ESD #6 in financial need when she was hired by County Commissioner Chico Rodriguez. The reins were then turned over to Sofia Moreno Castillo, the wife of one of the candidates in the 2015 Southside ISD elections which Ms. Mendelsohn is openly campaigning for.
Ms. Mendelsohn continued to shuffle the players like a deck of cards from one entity to another and continued to hold control of the southeast Bexar County communities.
Do you believe social media will sway the outcome of this election?
The state having never had a board that would disregard the law so blatantly; has guidelines that are to be enforced by TEA. In the case of Southside ISD and other southern San Antonio districts, it has been lacking. Not sure how to deal with the issues, state representatives are stepping in to clean up messes in school districts.
Sen,Carlos Uresti has gotten his SB168 the furthest of all the bills. As it looks, the bill would make sure that what happened at Southside ISD doesn't happen again. The bills will hold school board members accountable and make their actions more transparent.
- Board members will have to file a financial disclosure form with the district and Texas Ethics Committee or face misdemeanor charges. (Part of this bill already exists, the charges are an addition in order to hold them accountable) Southside ISD "team" members have not always turned them in. Those that have are less than honest or transparent. Showing no support, yet spending money on signs, flyers, etc. and claiming no expenses or donations.
- Districts to provide audio & video of regular meetings on-line.
- TASK FORCE: to evaluate training of board members.
- Trustees must complete all required training ---if not, they're names would appear in the newspaper.
- VOTER RECALL- would allow for a voter recall if the districts academic or financial rating loses points.
- NO GRAFTING: Prohibits contact between trustees and vendors.
Slate 2: Endorsed by local paper
The district had two major slates running in this election. It is clear by the action of the candidates, that the "team" ran in a pack, therefore, anyone running alone against the pack could not win. The days of running on one's own in the Southside ISD district seem far behind them as long as the district has candidates like the "team".
For those who are not sure what a "slate" means, it's when candidates run in groups.
Slate one: Norberto Chavez IV (Name on legal documents and social media is Roby Cannon Chavez, chose to run under his father's name, confusing the community members and voters as to who they were actually voting for until the social media blitz, now the Soutside ISD community knows exactly who the candidate is). Alma Guzman (Alma Estrada, former employee who was awarded $120,000 by her "team" on the board). Theo Castillo (see YouTube campaign video). John Wood (yes, man on ESD#6 board with Brewer and Chavez) and Daniel Rodriguez (chose not to run for re-election, was appointed to a vacated seat).
Slate 2: Endorsed by the local newspaper: Kenneth Bouldin (Fire Chief, military veteran), Julian Gonzales (former Board member, Pastor of his church, Retired Military and Bexar County Sheriff employee). Daniel R. Espinoza (Retired Educator). John Cantu Jr. (Southwest Research). Manuel Sandoval (Engineering firm).
Position 7: Mr. Sandoval vs. Mr. Chavez was not endorsed as neither candidate could be reached. Mr. Chavez's supporters were trying to justify a photo of Mr. Chavez holding a weapon in his bathroom while taking a selfie by posting a photo of Mr. Sandoval holding a high powered weapon. The difference in the photo's is that Mr. Sandoval is an adult, holding the weapon properly, in what appears to be a hunting photo. Mr. Chavez's photo showed someone who's role playing and trying to look cool. You be can the judge of that yourself.
When you hire a boss who doesn't have the background..what do you get?
The members of the "team", their candidates and supporters became aggressive, confronting and accusatory with their own community members. They were so engrossed in winning, that they forgot the reason they were running.
All the finger pointing did not change the fact that in November of 2014, The Southside ISD was voted #48 out of 50 schools. Academics they received a "C" grade, Teachers overall a "D" and resource and facilities a B+. A beautiful campus and athletic facilities of grandeur will not educate the children. The teachers have had pay raises since 2013, which the "team" took great pride in, but the teachers grades were less than that of the students.
January 2015, showed that at Southside ISD, children between the age of 3-17 that were not enrolled in the district were higher than the national average. The average 9.9% approximately 673 students. The national average is 9.6%. What is that saying about the education at Southside ISD?
It was saying that it was time for the community members to take control of their children's education and make sure that the focus is put back onto education. Community members must stay involved, by attend school board meetings and asking questions. The only way to fix something that is broken is to take a hands on approach. Get involved and stay involved.
Pressure for Position 7 had community members hurling insults and threats
Candidate Norberto Chavez, IV attempted to clean up his image by claiming that the "smooth criminal" was a steal from Michael Jackson. The only problem is that he chose to add a friend to the Southside ISD Alumni Facebook page that does not live in the district and has never been a student at Southside ISD, but has created an uproar on the site. Antagonizing community members with the behavior of a high school student, adding to the fact that the behavior of his followers further demonstrates the immaturity level of the candidate. Most of his support came from his high school friends and sitting board members relatives as well as some children of the sitting member and candidate.
The adults on the social media site continued to give them advice to cease the behavior, but like children continued to antagonize as well as lure others into the fight; going as far as slinging threats towards anti-supporters and vice versa.
This kind of behavior is what has had the district in an uproar since the "team" took over the Southside ISD school board. Bully tactics, lack of transparency and other immature patterns of behavior put the district front and center in the media. With elections that began on April 27, 2015 and ended o May 9, 2015, the southeast Bexar county community members showed just how fed up they were and did not vote for the incumbents. Instead ousting them and leaving Brewer and Chavez without the support of their allies to continue disrupting the education of the children at Southside ISD.
All Community & Fun--Where is the Education
Community participation is admirable....
but it will not get you into college. Southside ISD has many websites and many supporters spouting how great it as at Southside ISD with the sitting board. No one was talking about the education and actually proving that education was front and center when it cqme to the "team" at the Southside ISD School Board. Go to any website and you see score boards, new turf, all the athletic programs in force, community participation. What happened to education? While the district still has programs that date back to the 1980s like duel credit, work study and such, the one and only thing you get from going to the Southside ISD website is more questions.
Where is the transparency?
Most of the educational documents that can be seen on the district website were from the 2013-14 (May) school year. That credit goes to the previous board. The transparency at Southside ISD appear to be on the up and up until you look at the dates. The district's website is a pick and choose of information. The Academic reports are dated 2013-2014 (Sept of 13 to May of 14). The audit report is from Aug 2013. There is no debt payment audit information to show the activity since the "team" took over the district. The budget manual is so old that some of the employees of the district listed no longer work for the district, as their names can be found on the agenda's as having left the district.
Have You Voted Yet?
Early Voting has begun. Have you voted?
Will Southside taxpayers taxes being going up?
Mr. Vela signed an agreement in 2014 for Bond Election transparency. According to the document, he pledges to post details no later than one business day after public notice. He further pledges to notify the Comptroller's office once the information has been posted on the website, which includes all information pertaining to a bond election. The signing of the agreement coincides with the posting of the district getting their transparency award.
Grand Standing before elections
and patting each other on the back seems to be the norm at Southside ISD. The "team" once again held a "special" board meeting just before election day to make "team' candidate, John Wood the Board Member of the Year. An award created when the team took over the Southside ISD School Board.
Other things that the "team" has brought to the district is having the district purchase vehicles that the board members drive. Mr. Brewer and Mr. Chavez have been seen driving two of the purchased trucks under the current school board. A White Chevrolet with headache rack and Southside ISD on the doors, a black truck as well.
The board has also purchased a wench truck for the district, something that Ms. Mendelsohn was famous for on the ESD6. Purchasing heavy equipment was a must for the ESD6. Since the board quickly allowed the ESD6 to rent school property for $10, are they also using school funds to purchase vehicles for ESD6 use?
Southside ISD Board Room- Administration Office
Attend their school board meetings. Stay informed.