3 vie for Pasadena ISD Position 5
A teacher development specialist and a plant operator in the race for a Pasadena ISD trustee seat each say they would focus on boosting student achievement and examining district spending if elected.
Jose Cazares and Chad Sullivan are in a three-way race with Position 5 incumbent Kenny Fernandez in the May 4 election.
Fernandez was elected in 2015. A Dobie High School alumni, he is co-owner and president of North American Shipping Agencies and the the owner of Little Longhorns Daycare in the Southbelt area, according to biography information on the Pasadena ISD website.
Attempts to interview Fernandez about his campaign were unsuccessful at presstime.
Cazares, 47, who works for Houston Independent School District as a teacher development specialist, hopes to leverage his experience to help students prepare for life after high school.
“I am running to bring a much-needed change to the Pasadena Independent School District Board of Education,” said Cazares, who said he has worked 26 years in education in roles that have included bilingual education teacher and district administrator.
He said that if elected, he would focus on ensuring students have options regardless of the path they choose after graduation and that they develop necessary technical skills and a strong work ethic.
“My primary focus will be student achievement across all content areas,” Cazares said. “I also want to help our schools build students with strong leadership skills. Our students need to know how to work in collaborative teams, communicate effectively and be problem-solvers.
“I would like to increase technical career course work, university and college partnerships and technology-based instruction,” he said.
He favors expanding prekindergarten education and boosting funding for after-school programs, gifted and talented education and special education.
Cazares said one of the first challenges he would address as trustee would be to analyze district spending from a data-driven standpoint.
If elected, he said, “I will immediately conduct a detailed budget analysis in order to assess the effectiveness of all the current school district programs, departments, and administrative level personnel. I will do this to effectively measure the performance and the direct impact of these programs and people on student achievement.
“If the data shows that there is minimum or no impact on the student learning, then you can be sure that budget cuts would be the next action step,” Cazares said. “If the data shows positive gains, then I will do everything possible to expand and allocate the necessary funds to keep the progress moving.”
A plant operator and union unit president, Sullivan, 35, said he wishes to serve on the board so he can give back to the community.
“I have always found service to the community important. I think that it is important that the school board best represent all the students, staff and Pasadena community in its entirety. I think that above all whomever sits on the board should have these things in mind,” he said.
Sullivan said that if elected, he would like to contribute to the board’s reputation for fiscal responsibility and putting students first.
“Utilization of resources have kept operating costs in line and increased technology in the district and the access students have to it,” he said. “PISD has done an excellent job of adapting to the changes in education while being mindful of the community in which it serves. I would like to see continued graduation rate increases and empower students to find a path in education that suits them. This would include driving vocational initiatives in the district, dual-credit education (and) workforce readiness.”
He said that one of the biggest challenges facing Pasadena ISD relate to finances.
“Budgets are always a concern when the state and federal government are the financiers,” Sullivan said. “I would expect challenges to come in the form of pressure on an already tight budget system.
“Our community continues to see growth and many of our schools operate at or above design capacity,” he said. “We will have to meet that challenge.
“We have to set our district priorities and make sure we have the funds to manage the things we find most important for the growth of all of our students.”