Austin School Board members bid farewell Monday night to former school board Trustee Gina Hinojosa who was elected to the Texas House of Representatives on Election Day. The start of Monday night's Board meeting was bittersweet. As Hinojosa said goodbye to other board members, she encouraged the board to continue to advocate for students across the city.
“My hope for this board is that that you recognize and use your privilege and authority to continue to grapple with the hard stuff, the policies that will work to create a more just, vibrant and thriving community – policies that will give opportunities to our students to become leaders, not just workers," Hinojosa said.
The board welcomed Trustee Cindy Anderson to replace her in the District 8 at-large position. Anderson says she hopes she can live up to her predecessor.
“And I hope that I can do her justice in serving all students in AISD and ensuring every single child has the opportunity to have the phenomenal education that my children had in this district," Anderson said.
Anderson served on a variety of district boards and committees over the last decade, including the Austin Council of PTAs.
With the new member in place, the board started its other work for the night, including elections for board officers—president, vice president and secretary. Leading up to those votes, there had been some push to get the board to elect board Vice president Paul Saldaña as President.
Last week, UT Austin Professor Angela Valenzuela sent an email to various members of the Latino community urging them to support Saldaña. In the end, just two people showed up during public comment in support of Saldaña. During public comment, Valenzuela says the board needs a leader who will prioritize dual-language programs.
“These concerns are not going to go away they’ve grown into social movements nationwide," Valenzuela said. "I think it is good medicine for the board to bite the bullet to address these things now rather than later.”
Board President Kendall Pace took to Facebook this week to defend her stance on dual-language programming. Pace has said she wants to better monitor how well dual-language programs are working — a comment some in the AISD community took as Pace questioning the need for dual-language — a sentiment she denies.
After two hours of closed door deliberations, Pace was unanimously re-elected Board President by her fellow trustees. Trustee Yasmin Wagner said the board decided to stay the course.
“At the end, with a lot of large decisions in the not so distant future, that stability as a board is important," Wagner said. "We’ve started some really great work in in establishing a really great focus and a process in how we wish to do our work and board officers that have been working very well together and we wish to see that continue in this point in time.”
Paul Saldaña remained board Vice President and Julie Cowan remained board Secretary.