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20120504-Mugs-of-CandidatesWEEK THREE

Editor’s note: For the third and final week, the Progress Times asked Mission Consolidated Independent School District board of trustees candidates questions about the district and its future. Candidates were given a word limit for each question. If a candidate went beyond the limit, their response was cut. Place 4 candidate Jorge Esquivel did not reply to a request for participation. The candidates for contested results were asked to participate; J.C. Avila, candidate for Place 5 was not included because the race for the seat is uncontested.

• If cuts need to be made to balance the budget, what would help guide you toward your decision?

Sonia Treviño, Place 2 incumbent: Our first priority is to ensure that students’ education and success are not compromised. We as a district have felt budget cuts in the last few years. We examined staffing needs and focused on positions that did not hinder educational opportunities. We ensured that teacher positions were not affected. Every year our district needs change and we are always assessing the needs of our staff and students.

Hector Gonzalez, Place 2 candidate: Hopefully the need for deeper cuts of the budget will not be necessary considering that MCISD has already conducted staffing studies and based on their findings undergone many cuts in personnel. Additionally, most everyone in the district has not seen a raise in three years. Our district has been fiscally conservative; as a result, I do not believe that we have some of the financial problems that other districts throughout the state may have. However, if we are in need of more funding for certain programs, I would propose that we look for alternative funding sources such as grants.

Moises “Moy” Iglesias, Place 3 incumbent: My greatest concerns are that our students get the best possible education from MCISD, and that our employees’ salaries and benefits stay competitive with those of our surrounding school districts. Keeping these standards to the highest degree possible would guide my decisions about budget cuts. This is why last year I was in favor of the early retirement buyout incentive. It helped us avoid laying off employees and helped us assure that MCISD students would still receive the quality education they deserve.

Patty Bazaldua, Place 3 candidate: Last year state budget cuts reduced our funding by $5.7 million forcing the board to react promptly. As a current board member, I feel we acted appropriately and made good choices. I was guided then and will be guided in the future by looking first at non-instructional areas, followed by central office, campus allocations and offering early resignation incentives in an effort to balance our budget. I will maintain conscious awareness, of all areas, to allow for strategic planning, evaluation and solutions. I am confident with logic and sensitivity future budget cuts will be sensible and fair.

Romeo Sanchez, Place 3 candidate: As a parent and a citizen of this community, I care about the quality of education our children are receiving. Therefore, every decision with regards to balancing the budget would have to include considering the impact it would have on our children’s education. I would entertain the idea of making cuts in other areas but only after making sure that those cuts would not have an adverse affect on education.

Patricia O’Caña-Olivarez, Place 4 incumbent: One indicator that I would look at is what percentage of the school district’s population would the budget cut affect. Another indicator is how effective has the program been for the school district before the budget is cut.

• How would you balance education and athletic funding?

Treviño: Balancing the budget is not just a balance of money, but it is how we balance maintaining educational excellence. Having been a two-time national collegiate champion myself I know the importance of the role that athletics makes in the lives of our kids. With that in mind, balancing education and athletic funding is not an easy task.  Funding is determined by the educational needs of a district, state mandates and student test scores. Therefore, balancing the two is not feasible because the district needs to examine what school initiatives need to be funded in order to maintain educational excellence.

Gonzalez: Athletics is a necessary part of education, especially at the secondary level. Students need a well-balanced education including instruction in athletics or any other extracurricular program in which students may be interested. Both academic and extracurricular teachers serve as role models and mentors. The “No Pass, No Play” rule motivates students to excel in academics in order to participate in athletics or any other extracurricular program of their choice. Any former Mission graduate who participated in athletics or any other extracurricular activity can attest to the sense of pride and accomplishment that performing well at a public event brings.

Iglesias: Athletics and academics go hand-in-hand. Recognizing this is the key to “balanced” funding. Athletics is part of our districts’ efforts to fully educate students, to produce well-rounded, balanced individuals who will make positive contributions to society. The many ideals taught through athletic participation such as self-discipline and character can influence students’ attitudes toward academics and help improve their classroom learning as well as give them important skills for life. Carefully studying the whole picture and understanding how these programs work together will help us make wise, balanced spending decisions that will help us meet our educational goals.

Bazaldua: Education is the fundamental reason why children are schooled; therefore, it takes priority over all other activities. Our athletic program is a valuable educational component for our students, administration and the community. We are a multifaceted organization and must allow equitable focus for each part. Over half of our student population is involved in extra-curricular activities and this supports the growth of well-rounded individuals. Without allowing the integrity of student learning to be hindered, I feel that budget cuts should be structured to reduce educational and athletic funding, as equally as possible.

Sanchez: Sport is a very important component of children’s education; it provides an extension of a good educational program. Students who participate in sports often develop certain competitive skills that complement academics. That is why when balancing education and athletic funding, one should consider the effect a funding cut in one area would have on the other. Taking this approach would ensure that only the most minimal cuts would take place and only on an as needed basis.

O’Caña-Olivarez: As with any type of funding, you have to carefully analyze and prioritize the projects. Then, allocate funds accordingly.

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