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Education

Democrats Flip D5 State Board Of Education Seat, And Everything Else You Need To Know About San Antonio’s Education Election Results

A science classroom at YWLA Primary during a meet-the-teacher event Aug. 9, 2019.
File Photo | Camille Phillips | Texas Public Radio

After nearly a day of being too close to call, Democrat Rebecca Bell-Metereau appears to have won the race to represent the San Antonio-Austin corridor and much of the Hill Country on the Texas State Board of Education.

According to the Secretary of State’s office, all precincts in the district have reported their results, leaving Bell-Metereau with a narrow victory over Republican Lani Popp, a speech language pathologist in the Northside Independent School District.

Bell-Metereau received 48.9% of the vote, less than two percentage points ahead of Popp. Like other statewide races in the general election, State Board of Education seats do not go to runoffs.

Bell-Metereau is a Texas State University professor in San Marcos. She has been attempting to win a seat on the state board for 10 years, and credits her victory to the changing demographics of Hays County and the San Antonio-Austin corridor.

“I knew that the population was changing, becoming younger, more well-educated and more diverse,” Bell-Metereau said. “You can just see that progression, if you look at how badly I lost in the previous races.

“I first ran in 2010, and lost by about 24 percentage points. And then in 2012, I got it down to about eight percentage points that I lost by, and then in 2016, I lost by 3.9 percentage points.”

She added one of her top priorities is to make sure the curriculum standards approved by the state board are based on research instead of personal opinion.

“I’m really eager to get started, and I want to have a very collegial and cooperative working system,” said Bell-Metereau, noting that the Republicans on the board have become more moderate in recent years.

She applauded the board for approving elective courses on African-American studies and Mexican-American studies, but said she would also like to see the material for those courses embedded in the state’s required history courses.

In addition to approving curriculum standards and textbooks for Texas public schools, the State Board of Education oversees the Texas Permanent School Fund and approves applications for new charter schools. Bell-Metereau said she believes there should be “stronger oversight” of charter school approvals.

“Texas has made it so that charter schools are almost like a competing system, and we don't have the support to have two separate school systems,” Bell-Metereau said.

“I'm not going to go into a meeting with charter school people and just automatically say, 'No, I'm not even going to listen to you.' I will listen to charter school proposals, but I will also make sure that this isn't something that is undermining the neighborhood schools.”

Democrats were hoping to pick up three seats on the Republican-dominated State Board of Education this year, but District 5 appears to be the only race they succeeded in flipping.

Pre-K 4 SA

San Antonio voters enthusiastically approved continued funding for Pre-K4 SA, the city-run preschool system supported by a dedicated 1/8th of a cent sales tax.

With all precincts reporting, 73% of voters approved San Antonio’s Proposition A, which renews the dedicated sales tax for another eight years.

Pre-K 4 SA serves 2,000 students in four centers and provides around $4 million in grants annually to local schools, funding an additional 2,000 to 3,000 preschool seats.

San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said the strong show of support for the program is in part due to its track record of success since it was first approved in 2012.

“The primary goal is to ensure that it continues that success for thousands of San Antonio’s youngest learners over the next eight years of the program,” Nirenberg said.

If the Texas legislature continues to fund early childhood education, Nirenberg said Pre-K 4 SA hopes to make more families eligible to fill the gap between families who aren’t eligible for state-funded pre-k but can’t afford private preschool.

SAISD Bond

The largest bond in the history of the San Antonio Independent School District has passed by a large margin.

Almost 70% of SAISD residents voted in favor of the $1.3 billion bond, which will support district-wide technology upgrades and renovations for 36 campuses.

SAISD officials say the bond will not require a tax rate increase.

"The boldness of our board and superintendent in the size of this bond is a statement about SAISD's determination to address the historic inequality and deterioration of the condition of our school facilities,” said SAISD Board President Patti Radle in a statement. “We thank the voters who have joined us in saying enough is enough! Our students deserve great facilities that match the great learning that has been going on inside our buildings.”

Videos and documents listing the specific projects funded by the bond can be found on SAISD’s website.

Alamo Colleges District Trustees

Two of the three trustee races for the board of the Alamo Colleges District are still undecided following Tuesday’s election.

Candidates for District 4 and District 9 failed to gain a majority, leaving the top two finishers in each race to compete in a runoff.

The District 4 runoff to represent the South Side will be between Lorraine Pulido and Joe Gallegos Jr.

District 4 had four candidates, including Connie Prado, a longtime board member in the South San Antonio Independent School District and a prominent figure in South San’s history of state oversight. Prado also ran opposed for re-election to the South San board and will continue to serve that board.

District 9 incumbent Joe Jesse Sanchez will face Leslie Sachanowicz, a lawyer who wants to take a close look at the community college system’s budget. Sachanowicz received 45% of the vote Tuesday, edging out Sanchez and missing the requirement to avoid a runoff by six percentage points.

District 2 incumbent Jose Macias Jr. also came in second in his election, losing to Gloria Ray, a retired Civil Service executive who said it was important for the Alamo Colleges District board to have a Black trustee. District 2 includes St. Philip’s College, the community college system’s only Historically Black College.

Both Macias and Sanchez were appointed to their positions on the board. Both also voted to postpone the November election, switching course after the Texas Attorney General’s office got involved.

NEISD Trustees

Four of the five incumbents running for a seat on the board of the North East Independent School District have won their elections, including Sandy Hughey, Omar Leos, David Beyer and Shannon Grona.

District 6 incumbent Tony Jaso lost to Steve Hilliard in a three-way race. Hilliard was one of five challengers backed by the conservative San Antonio Family Association, which disapproves of the sex education curriculum adopted by NEISD in 2016.

The Express News’ roundup of other Bexar County trustee races can be found here and here.

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