I don’t know much about San Antonio ISD or the makeup of its board, but I know they’re about to have some very interesting elections next month.
Name the ills of a typical inner-city school district and San Antonio has them all: low academic achievement, high dropout rates, declining enrollment.
But the biggest problem, say interested observers — Mayor Julián Castro first among them — is the San Antonio Independent School District board itself.
With the potential to replace up to three of seven board members in the May 14 election, Castro and others also see an unprecedented opportunity to remake the board. This election, he believes, could have a greater impact on San Antonio’s future than the City Council races.
His decision to get involved has shined a spotlight on the board that it hasn’t faced in years, if ever. School board races are routinely decided by just a handful of district voters.
I’ve noted before that Mayor Castro is playing in these races. He’s not the only elected official to do so – State Reps. Mike Villarreal and Ruth Jones McClendon are also backing various candidates. It’s not unusual for elected officials to endorse candidates in HISD races, but generally speaking they either support incumbents or get involved in open seat races. Two of the spotlighted SAISD races are challenges to incumbents, the third is an open seat that had been held for nearly 30 years by the same person. In addition, Castro is hosting a citywide forum for candidates in seven different area school districts, a first of its kind. Again, what draws my attention is that the Mayor is getting involved at all, especially since he has his own re-election going on; Castro doesn’t have a serious opponent, but still. This is all part of a vision for the future he’s outlined called SA2020, and these election results will be seen to some extent as a referendum on that vision. I give Mayor Castro a lot of credit for putting it on the line like that. We’ll see how it goes for him.