Newcomer Johnathon Cruz is running for the Southwest ISD Board of Trustees. As mentioned in this earlier post, two at-large seats on the Southwest ISD Board of Trustees are on the May 20, 2014 ballot, and current members Mike C. Frazier and Yolanda Garza-Lopez are running for reelection. The two candidates who get the most votes will win places on the board.
Cruz is respectful towards the incumbents, thanking them for their years of service to Southwest ISD, but hopes to offer a new perspective as a former student in Southwest ISD schools, including Indian Creek Elementary and McAuliffe Middle School. Cruz graduated from Southwest High School in 2009 and earned a degree cum laude from Sul Ross State University in Alpine. While in Alpine, he interned for Pete Gallego, who now represents the 23rd District in the U.S. Congress.
I asked Cruz what motivated him to enter the school board race. He says his top priority is improving college readiness. If Southwest ISD can send more kids to college, that will boost economic development and help solve problems like crime and teen pregnancy. Based on his experience, Cruz believes that Southwest ISD is “lacking in college preparation” and should do more to “prepare students for life after high school.” Specifically, he mentioned helping students prepare FAFSAs (financial aid applications) and providing extracurricular activities that prepare students for jobs in STEM fields, like cybersecurity.
Southwest ISD serves a large proportion of economically disadvantaged students. (The figure is 84 percent, according to the Texas Tribune‘s Public Schools Explorer.) Cruz believes school board members should do more to advocate for equal funding for all school districts, including talking to members of the legislature. He also sees a role for board members in building relationships with the business community, cultivating the Southwest ISD alumni community, and seeking grant money to provide teachers with more resources. (Perhaps those efforts would involve the Southwest ISD Education Foundation?)
Following up on the school finance question, I asked Cruz about school district consolidation, as mentioned in this earlier post; he said that it’s worth studying, but we need more information about whether it would actually save money.
Cruz is new to politics, but seems to have some interesting ideas about moving the district forward, based on his personal experience and his activity in the community. This will be an interesting race to watch.
- A story about Southwest ISD’s successful CyberPatriot teams (disclosure: my husband is one of the teams’ mentors)
- Roundup post about the May 10, 2014 school board elections
- Earlier post about the 2013 school board election for Southwest ISD
- Earlier post about other 2014 races, including the State Board of Education
- Earlier post about school finance litigation
- Earlier post about school foundations