© 2020 Texas Public Radio
Real. Reliable. Texas Public Radio.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

School Board Elections: Judson ISD

JUDSON ISD.png

Note: Names are listed in order of appearance on the ballot according to the city clerks' office. Answers from candidates have not been edited or fact-checked.

For TPR's full Voter Guide, click here.


Shatonya Kina: District No. 2

Candidate ran unopposed; declared elected.


Debra Eaton: District No. 3

Candidate ran unopposed; declared elected.


Evette Livingston: District No. 4

What is your current or most recent occupation?

Regional Director of Operations

What grade on an A-F scale would you give your district’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Why?

I would give the district a "B" rating. I don't believe anyone was prepared for this pandemic. The District had to scramble to ensure our children had the resources to still be educated from home. The District was short equipment and did not have an emergency disaster plan in place, however the District was very proactive in making sure our children was provided meals. Eventually all children were given chrome books so they could continue their learning instructions and as the District learned more about the virus it was communicated to the parents and students.

Do you think your district is doing a good job educating its students? Why or why not? What could it be doing better?

I feel the district is doing a good job but it can and must be better. We have an Academic gap and several children are not learning at grade level. We must ensure we leave no child behind. Our School rating is currently a "B" average. It simply is not good enough. We must invest in more programs to better educate our students, more tutoring and one on one sessions with students who are falling behind, add more counselors to help children deal with social and emotional issues as that will also affect learning.

Do you think your district treats its teachers, principals and support personnel well? Why or why not?

Yes I believe the district treats everyone well, however I would like to see more open dialogue take place. I am a firm believer every voice should be heard. Our Teachers, Principals and Support staff are on the front lines. They are the experts and understand the daily trials and tribulations, victories and failures. Communication is extremely important for the district to truly understands the needs.

One of the school board’s primary responsibilities is to approve a budget. What experience do you have making financial decisions? How would you / do you decide whether or not to approve the budget recommended to you by district administration?

I have over 25 years of experience in Operations Management, Project Management, Business Development, Contract negotiation, Financial accountability and Vendor relations. I am also a certified Six Sigma Green Belt therefore, I am trained to do cost analysis, weigh the pro's and con's of the proposal for the budget and make decisions which is best for the district, the students and the community. I was the District Director for a former State House of Representatives with over 175,000 constituents. I understand the balance of being an advocate for the community while striving for a balanced budget as well. I would take all factors in before approving the budget- what is best for the administration, students and the community.

What is your stance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests?

I believe STAAR testing is a good measurement tool to review how the school is performing, how our students are learning and what overall improvements are needed, however there should be other deciding factors for promotion to the next grade level. I would like to see the STAAR as a measuring assessment tool only and not as a key factor to graduating. A students who works hard all year to maintain passing grades with a good attendance record should not be held back if that student did not test well on the STAAR.

What is your stance on charter schools?

Every parent should have the choice to send their children to whatever school they feel is the best opportunity. We must look for ways to keep our children in public schools, in order to do so we must offer programs parents and students find attractive so we do not lose them to Charters. If we can create smaller classroom instructions, magnet programs, year round instructions, more STEAM and Early College classes as well as many other ideas I believe we may slow down the withdrawal and start building up our enrollment.

Jose A. Macias, Jr.: District No. 4

What is your current or most recent occupation?

Director of Advancement, St Paul's Episcopal Montessori School

What grade on an A-F scale would you give your district’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Why?

I would give an assessment of passing. It is very difficult to measure the effectiveness of programs during this moment in time. The passing status is quantified through the efforts to provide every student access to technology and online resources in order to learn remotely. Initiatives are assessed by net results. How impactful has the learning process been during this past year? Evaluations are still ongoing.

Do you think your district is doing a good job educating its students? Why or why not? What could it be doing better?

The pandemic crisis has made our job much more challenging. Every facet of our society has been impacted in some manner. Judson ISD educators have done their utmost to keep educational attainment goals in the forefront. However, the challenges have been consistent. The true assessment of districtwide effectiveness will not be entirely visible until next year, or once the pandemic is behind us. The real question is....how will we ensure students are at grade level or above in their course work.

Do you think your district treats its teachers, principals and support personnel well? Why or why not?

I believe that we treat our employees well. However, it is incumbent on Board leadership to work with Administration to ensure employee satisfaction surveys are independently administered, that as a Board member you work with teacher/employee representatives, and keep an open door policy to hear input from district employees.

One of the school board’s primary responsibilities is to approve a budget. What experience do you have making financial decisions? How would you / do you decide whether or not to approve the budget recommended to you by district administration?

I have over ten years of budgetary oversight and planning experience. I have contributed towards nine continuous budget reviews as a Trustee for Judson ISD and one year as a Trustee for the Alamo College District.

What is your stance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests?

STARR is an important instrument to evaluate student performance. However, it is only one piece of the broader metric. It cannot/should not be the only measure utilized to gauge student achievement. If we are going to determine where there is an opportunity to insert academic interventions or academic support, we must have an established baseline....one that the STARR tests can help us determine.

What is your stance on charter schools?

Charters are not going anywhere. There are portions of our community that will choose a Charter School or Private school for their child. One thing a public ISD can do is learn the motives for parental choice and then evaluate if a district can replicate those sentiments. In terms to classroom size, ISD's will never get back to a student/Teacher ratio of 14 students per class. Some Charters can and will more than likely remain difficult to beat if that is one of the top parental considerations for leaving. What ISD's should do is continuously seek to improve and be impactful and efficient with tax dollars spending. I would tell my colleagues on the Judson board, don't be mad with Charters, reflect and evaluate why we are losing students to charters and build a stronger district.


Jennifer "Jenny" Rodriguez: District No. 5

Candidate ran unopposed; declared elected.


Rafael Diaz: District No. 7

Did not respond.*

Emilio Silvas: District No. 7

What is your current or most recent occupation?

Product Manager at Parlevel Systems

What grade on an A-F scale would you give your district’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Why?

B - The Board was thrown into an impossible situation, but their response lately has not been acceptable to many parents. Their lack of communication regarding distance learning has been particularly difficult for many parents I have spoken with.

Do you think your district is doing a good job educating its students? Why or why not? What could it be doing better?

I do not believe the district is achieving the goal of a quality education. At present, we have a graduation rate (88%) below the state average (90%). Primarily this is because the Board of Trustees has not placed great emphasis on the recruitment and retention of staff. We lose staff each year to neighboring districts instead of increasing their salaries.

Do you think your district treats its teachers, principals and support personnel well? Why or why not?

Presently, my knowledge is limited to staff compensation. In this regard, I do not believe we have treated them well. The current turnover rate is ~14%. We have an opportunity to change this statistic, but only with a dedicated effort to direct resources for staff retention.

One of the school board’s primary responsibilities is to approve a budget. What experience do you have making financial decisions? How would you / do you decide whether or not to approve the budget recommended to you by district administration?

I have been a business owner. I understand revenue and expense. When I study the district's finances, it is clear we operate at a deficit. I would ask difficult questions and challenge assumptions before accepting a budget recommendation. For example, the most recent budget discussion assumes gains in remote students and continued growth in Average Daily Attendance (ADA). This despite the clear trend of charter schools increasing their own enrollment. That same budget discussion required an increase in ADA or decrease in staff Full Time Equivalents (FTEs) in order to have a balanced budget. It was barely acknowledged and the far more likely outcome was a decrease in FTEs. We cannot move forward on budget discussions without accepting the reality before us. Additionally, financial decisions of past Boards continue to plague the district's finances. Addressing this reality and having that conversation with the public, not just in public, is one of the most important responsibilities of a Trustee.

What is your stance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests?

Standardized testing, like STAAR, is not just a measure of a district, but teachers as well. Without these objective measures, the public cannot be confident their tax dollars and, more importantly, their children, are well served. While every standardized test comes with subjective baggage, overall, its intent is to give the public insight into their local district's efforts and have confidence in that performance. I remain comfortable with the use of standardized tests overall, but also prefer to limit their impact on daily teaching plans. I hear far too often about teacher's daily plans being overtaken by test preparation.

What is your stance on charter schools?

Charter schools are inescapable part of the educational landscape. It is a bipartisan preference for an increasing number of parents who desire school choice. I do not see that trend slowing. However, I strongly believe the JISD can mitigate the impact of charter schools by dedicating resources (salary, benefits) to staff. This will build a strong foundation that will provide the JISD with staff and programming which parents desire. Charter schools have several advantages that allow them to compete for students. However, school districts have tremendous resources at their disposal and can provide an overall educational platform that will benefit students.


* denotes candidates who did not respond to survey requests sent via email and/or phone calls by time of publication.

TPR was founded by and is supported by our community. If you value our commitment to the highest standards of responsible journalism and are able to do so, please consider making your gift of support today.