Board voted 4-3 for hiring

Christopher Maher, Jim Wells County Correspondent

The San Diego High School will have a permanent principal when school starts next month, following a vote by the San Diego Independent School District Board of Trustees to appoint David Canales to the position Wednesday.

Canales has served as the ranking administrator for the school since former principal Nora Casares was reassigned to the junior high school on Feb. 12.

During the hearing of visitors portion of the meeting, Connie Alvarado and Avery Castillo, two employees at the high school, spoke in favor of the hiring of Canales.

"We're so tired of the instability at the high school," Alvarado said. "David is a hometown boy and would be a good principal for our high school."

Castillo agreed.

"Without the stability of a good leader, it's difficult to establish a good relationship between students and staff," Castillo said. "(Canales) has done a good job in getting us what we need at the high school, and I support him."

Before the vote, board vice-president Pete Guerra told those in attendance he was voting in favor of hiring Canales because of the recommendation of the teachers and other administrators.

"I believe in (Pizzini) and I believe in the teachers in this school district," Guerra said. "I think this is a good choice, and I'm going to go with the recommendation of our superintendent because I believe in him."

The board voted 4-3 to approve hiring Canales as the principal of the high school. Board members Javier Solis, Guerra, Rafael Saenz and Roy Guerrero voted in favor of the motion, and board members Librada Vela, Carlos Espinosa and Rene Valerio voted against the item.

Also on the agenda Wednesday, the board narrowly defeated a proposed change in local policy that would have prevented students who had completed their credit hours, but who had not passed the TAKS test from walking across the stage with other students at graduation ceremonies.

Superintendent Luis Pizzini and several teachers at the high school had requested the policy change in a previous meeting to provide teachers with a "tool" that would have allowed them to encourage students to adequately prepare for the standardized test.

The board voted 4-3 against changing the policy, with board members Guerra, Valerio, Espinosa and Vela voting against the change and Solis, Guerrero and Saenz voting in favor of the new policy.

Following the meeting, Guerra said he voted against changing the local policy because he felt it would have unfairly punished students who completed all of their necessary credits to graduate.

"I think if the kids sacrifice 12 to 13 years of their life in the school district and they've met all the credits they need to graduate…the platform belongs to the school district and they should be allowed to walk," Guerra said. "The TAKS test is a test the state requires, but the state is not here giving them their diplomas.

"I think now school districts are concentrating too much on teaching to pass the test, and they're getting away from the old teaching, like it was in the old days."

Board president Solis said he was surprised the new policy did not pass, and felt allowing students to participate in graduation events when they would not be allowed to graduate by the state would send the wrong message to students.

"I know the administration is going to keep asking us for that tool, and we're going to have to look at it again in the future," Solis said.

"We're one of the few schools that allows (students to participate) and I don't think it's right. Kids are not enticed into passing that exam, because they feel that they're going to be allowed to walk across the stage anyway."

In other business Wednesday, the board voted unanimously to renew the district's insurance for all students who participate in UIL events with Baker Insurance. The renewal will reportedly cost a total of $33,981, with a savings of $1,981 to the district over last year's rate.

The board also voted unanimously to submit an application and to adopt a resolution to participate in the Cooperative Purchasing Program of the Texas Building and Procurement Commission.

The resolution and application renewed an existing agreement between the district and the commission that allowed state officials to conduct the bidding process for certain district equipment.