School board trustees are volunteers who dedicate significant time to serving Austin ISD and play a critical role in ensuring resources are used effectively to serve all kids in the district. We have asked all school board candidates to respond to a set of questions so the Austin Kids First membership and Austin Kids First PAC board can make an informed decision about who to support in the November election. Everyone in AISD will have the opportunity to vote for an at-large candidate and 4 parts of town will also vote for a candidate in their district. Every 2 years, half of the single member district seats are up for a vote.
We asked 12 questions that require thoughtful responses. A preview of how candidates responded to the important question about why they are running for school board is below:
” To better serve children not only in my area but in the District as a whole as we are all in this together” – Andy Anderson
“Socrates (in his Apology) and Plato (in his Republic) used the same analogy to highlight one challenge of democracy: We elect people to steer the “ship” of our society, they gain knowledge of the route, weather storms, and begin to acquire the captain’s art—and then we too quickly replace them with “taller and stronger” leaders who may be “deaf and shortsighted” (Republic, Book VI).
My education has certainly prepared me to help “steer” the Austin ISD. After 13 years of public school education, I graduated as valedictorian of my class. I earned two undergraduate degrees summa cum laude. My graduate degrees include an M.S. in Organizational Leadership and an M.B.A. My doctorate is in leadership studies.
For four years, I served as president of a college-preparatory school for low-income students. I then pastored a congregation that I grew to be Austin’s largest Spanish-speaking Catholic community. I now pastor another growing congregation with the assistance of three priests and numerous lay ministers. As dean of a national theological school, I, too, report to a board. During the past 15 years, I co-founded three learning centers in East Austin—including La FUENTE, which hosted the AISD’s first Delta program outside a district facility, and Sí Se Puede, which educates pre-K students and their parents.
I have grown through four years of service on the AISD Board, helping to oversee a billion-dollar budget for roughly 83,000 students and 12,000 employees in 130 schools. In June, I was elected by fellow trustees to represent the AISD for a three-year term on the TASB Board of Directors.
During the past 15 years, I have served organizations ranging from my neighborhood planning team, to national boards. I have learned a great deal about good governance and the difference between governance (the responsibility of any board) and management (the responsibility of the executive who reports to the board—and of all who report to him/her).” – Hon. Rev. Dr. Jayme Mathias
“My time as an AISD Trustee has been incredibly rewarding and challenging. I consider it an extraordinary privilege to be able to do this work. In the 11 months I have spent in this role I have learned a great deal about AISD and board service, but even so, I feel like I have only scratched the surface. I am ready to continue to work to meet the needs of my community and to be an effective advocate.” -Yasmin Wagner
“I have spent the last decade volunteering at Austin ISD in multiple capacities and leadership positions serving all of our students. Each and every one of those experiences has provided me with valuable insight about our campuses, neighborhoods and how we operate as an institution. This work has culminated in a desire to take my service to the next level. Public education, and more specifically, Austin ISD, is my passion and has been for over a decade. My focus is 100% on serving our students, staff and community, supporting Austin ISD in providing the highest level of education for ALL of our students.” – Cindy Anderson
“I love Austin; this is my home. I am a product of AISD and my kids are in AISD. As a father, a business owner, and an active community member I understand that as AISD goes, so goes Austin. As a school district we get many things right, but we are far from perfect. I want to be elected so that I can help make Austin a better place for all of our kids, not just some, but all.
We must reject the notion that the status quo is how things must be; if we want different results we need new ideas. I understand what it takes to run a diverse and dynamic organization. I have people looking to me each and every day to make decisions that will affect their ability to pay rent and feed their kids. I don’t have the luxury of doing things merely because “that’s how it’s always been done,” I have to get things right, and wherever possible, I have to do things better.
More specifically, as it concerns this particular board, I understand no matter what we are working for, the only way to get things done is to build coalitions and bring people together. That is how I work on a daily basis and why I believe I can help move AISD forward.” –David Quintanilla
“I want to continue the work I began on the AISD board of Trustees in 2012. I want to continue to bring the perspective of an experienced educator to the Board and its decision-making process.” – Ann Teich
To learn more, read the full candidate responses.