So far out on the campaign trail, I have heard candidates take a swipe at our new stadium and scoreboard. Most often those expenditures are juxtaposed against a preference for academics. While academic performance is the drumbeat of my campaign and will be my main focus if I am elected, the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I think pitting athletics against academics is the same old thinking that has been divisive in our district and on the board for years. So let me tell you a bit about one Rattler student Athlete (the one I know best). My oldest son, Owen, gets about one week off at the end of the school year before he starts cross country summer training. Coach Collazo meets up with 30 to 60 kids and 10 to 20 alumni and running parents every weekday morning at 8:00 a.m. to run between 3 and 8 miles. Owen goes on a long run (8 miles or more) on Saturday mornings with me or the group from Core Running. This summer, we expect Owen will run more than 500 miles in three months. To hold up to this grind, he will be weight training most days and trying to eat anything he can find. Once school starts, he will be running each morning at 6:30 before a full day of pre-AP and AP classes. Two afternoons a week, he will head to New Braunfels after school for soccer training to get ready for the high school soccer season which starts at Thanksgiving. Cross country will still be going when soccer starts, so he will practice soccer at 6:30 in the morning then run after school gets out at 4:00. He will get a few hours at home before bed to catch up on his studies, except those nights where he has soccer training in New Braunfels. Every Saturday is taken during the fall with cross country or club soccer games (sometimes both on one day), so he will have to move his long runs to Sunday. High school soccer games are every Tuesday and Friday at our stadium or in far-flung places like Kerrville or Floresville. Soccer lasts into Spring Break, but track starts in February, so Owen again has practice at 6:30 in the morning and run track until 5:30 in the afternoon. To balance the strain, we sometimes have to see doctors or physical therapists. He does all of that because he wants to and because he plans to continue with athletics in college. So far, he has earned academic all-district each season so we haven’t stepped in to slow him down; plus busy kids learn to balance the business of adult life. The payoff for all that training is when he gets to run at the region and state level, or scores a goal that gets put up on the scoreboard at the new stadium. Owen’s story is just the one I know, but all Rattler student athletes work hard and according to the district, UIL competitors still outperform their peers in the classroom. Owen doesn’t care how big the scoreboard is or how much it cost, but let’s all avoid scoring a few political points if it is going to inadvertently minimize the work he and his friends put in.
The San Marcos Daily Record ran a piece on my campaign today, in a series of articles Chris Salinas has written on all the candidates. The article is fair, even if I am not sure the quotes are exact, but the main thing is that “I’m In Print”. The best way to summarize how this makes me feel is to share a clip of how it made Navin Johnson feel — classic cinema for sure.
Marissa and I met my Sophomore year at SMHS. Since that day, we have shared our entire lives. When I graduated from high school, Marissa was there. Together, we had three kids and adopted another. The day I finished at UT, Marissa and I moved to Atlanta for my job, together. A couple years later, we moved back to San Marcos for good, together. I couldn’t have accomplished half of the things I have accomplished without Marissa’s support, but more than that, her wisdom, her input, her effort, and her help. She is more than my best supporter, we are a package deal and she is a big reason that you should support me for school board.
Marissa’s grandparents came to San Marcos from the valley so that their children and their children’s children could have a better life. Marissa’s grandmother was the second hispanic educator in SMCISD, and that was no minor challenge. Yet she paved the way for future hispanic teachers and thousands of future hispanic students, not by being a hispanic teacher so much as a teacher who happened to be hispanic. And two of her daughters walked that same road a generation later with Marissa’s mom teaching 30 years at Crockett and Travis, and Marissa’s aunt teaching at Hernandez to this day. Just like every lifelong teacher, they touched so many lives in such a personal, sacrificial way, and the support of Marissa’s family in this election keeps me going.
With all that history, Marissa never felt an expectation that she had to do the same, and she has had the freedom to invest the last 16 years in staying at home with our four children. She does the largest share of the lunch packing, the drop-offs, the homework, the celebrating, and the disciplining, and our four wonderful children are the best testament to what a wonderful mom Marissa is. We have different strengths that compliment each other, and she has been content with what appears to the outside as a supporting role for my job and the areas that I have served. But I couldn’t do any of it without her, and I couldn’t do this election or serve on the school board without her. We are in it together.
My family moved to San Marcos in 1980 when I was four years old, and I attended Crockett, Bowie, Wonderland, Lamar, Goodnight, and SMHS. I have seen the schools from the inside and outside – the old versions and the new ones, and I have spent time in every corner of the district. Everyone grows up somewhere, but I grew up here and it helps me understand the unique challenges and the unique potential of our school system and our community.
In order to move the district forward, a board member needs to understand where we have been. I understand San Marcos. Please read my bio or visit issues to learn more, and I’d love to visit between now and election day to talk about moving the district forward.
The current school board put a bond to the voters a couple years ago to construct a new first class building to expand the district’s pre-kindergarten program. The bond passed, the school was built on the site of the old Bowie Elementary, and the board committed to providing full-day, high quality PreK for all the kids in our district. So where state and federal politicians talk about early childhood, our community did something to make it a reality. The official ribbon cutting for Bonham PreK School is this Thursday from 4:00 to 6:00 at 1225 Highway 123. I’d love for you to join me to celebrate this big moment for our district. There is more information available on this link: http://www.smcisd.net/news.cfm?story=2283&school=0
Now comes the hard part – funding the program. In years past, students whose parents made under a certain income threshold could attend for a half-day, and the costs were picked up by state and federal dollars. Now, we are providing a full day of instruction for all low-income kids in the district, but the district is not receiving any additional revenue to fund the additional expenses. That means money that could be spent on elementary or secondary grades will be redirected to PreK. Mark Eads has consistently held that this is an investment that must be made. Yes, but I would like additional revenue sources to cover this investment so it did not come out of the other grades. I hope that the Texas legislature provides additional PreK funding this session, but if they do not, it will be left to the future trustees and this community to create alternate revenue streams to offset this cost so that our community can provide high quality PreK without taking money from other grades. The ribbon cutting for the building is a big moment for the district, but there is more work to be done.
I am excited to run for a three-year term as an at-large trustee on the San Marcos CISD school board. The election is May 9, 2015 with early voting starting on April 27. If we have not had a chance to spend time together yet, I hope this election provides that opportunity. Until then, you can read more about my background and leadership experience in my online bio.
I am running for school board, because there are 7,500 kids in our school right now, and they cannot wait three more years for leaders focused on giving them the education that they deserve…
To read more of John’s letter, subscribe to our e-newsletter.