The first steps are in motion that will take Mayor Julián Castro’s early education initiative from the ballot box to the classroom.
On Thursday city council officially appointed the new Pre-K 4 SA Board of Directors. They also voted to hire a recruiting firm to look for the top positions within the initiative, and they adopted the ordinance to implement the sales tax increase.
Appointees to the board include:
- Elaine Mendoza, who was picked by Castro to head the board as its chair
- Dr. Richard Middleton, former Northeast ISD superintendent
- Major General Joe Robles, the CEO of USAA
- Richard Perez, a former city councilman and President of the Chamber of Commerce
- Dr. John Folks, former superintendent of Northside ISD
- Comelia Black, who has 35 years' experience in education
- Pamela Ray, an assistant professor at St. Philips College
- Dave Force, who served as the interim director of San Antonio Youth Literacy
These members will guide the board into the first few years of the eight-year program.
On the dais, District 4 Councilman Rey Saldaña told colleagues he wanted to clear the air after a phone call he received from a concerned resident, who believed her tax dollars would be paying the Pre-K 4 SA board.
Saldaña said the board is not getting paid, and he and others realize the appointees could be doing something else that would pay them for their valuable time.
"Although it's not a paid position, we have members on these boards who have very valuable time, who are working in different industries in different sectors, who really, like the mayor said, could be doing much more in terms of creating value for your time,” he said. “But you are creating a ton of value for this city and the investment you'll be making on this board."
Mendoza, the founder of Conceptual Mindworks, knows the road ahead and said that all moves made by the board will be closely watched.
"I think we understand and accept the huge responsibility to deliver on this program for the youngers and for the community," she said.
Two of the initial model education centers have been chosen, one in the northwest and another on the southeast side of town. A firm will now search for directors to lead those centers.
Sales tax increase finalized
The ordinance to officially implement the one-eighth cent sales tax increase has been approved. An ordinance is required to send to the state comptroller’s office so it can begin issuing the tax.
The mayor's measure is moving swiftly so that many of the city's four year olds can begin their full day pre-K program next school year.
"It goes without saying that I'm very appreciative that the voters, for the first time in the city's history, decided to invest in human capital and to help ensure that in San Antonio we have a very well educated population,” said Castro.
The sales tax begins in the spring. Students will begin filling the classrooms of the model education centers in the fall.