The South San Antonio Independent School District board (from left) trustee Elda L. Flores, trustee Edward Mungia, President Angelina Osteguin, Superintendent Abelardo Saavedra, Vice President Leticia Guerra, trustee Connie Prado, and trustee Luis Rodriguez.
The South San Antonio Independent School District board meets in May 2018. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

On a night when top-of-the-ballot races drew the most attention, San Antonio voters also decided on a number of critical school board races and school district bond issues.

Voters on Tuesday unseated all incumbent school board trustees in South San Antonio ISD and denied an elected Edgewood ISD trustee position to Richard Santoyo, who currently serves as a manager on the district’s governing board.

Southside ISD lost out on a bond issue, with voters rejecting a $17 million bond, while voters in Southwest ISD largely approved a $75 million bond.

Just months after South San voters rejected a tax-rate increase and a new superintendent took the helm at the district, challengers ousted three incumbent trustees.

Obtaining 42.3 percent of the vote, board President Angelina Osteguin lost to Mandy Martinez. Incumbent Edward Mungia dropped his District 3 seat to Homer Flores, who collected 61.5 percent of the vote. Luis Rodriguez received 38 percent of the vote, losing his position to Gilbert Rodriguez.

All three incumbents supported the rate increase in the tax ratification election; Osteguin believes that was the reason she lost.

“I believe the TRE did me in,” Osteguin said in a text. “Community voted against tax hike and associated my name with that.”

Both Luis Rodriguez and Mungia said they hope their successors will continue to move the district forward.

“My hope is that if the results stay as they are, that [Gilbert Rodriguez will be] open-minded and not take the district backwards,” Luis Rodriguez said.

Mungia said he hoped the entire board, which will have four new members, will continue to follow the Lone Star Governance model, a structure the current board adheres to.

Edgewood ISD is governed by a hybrid board that contains five managers, who were appointed to their positions by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath, and two trustee positions elected by voters. The unusual structure came together when governance issues caused Morath to push the elected board of trustees to the side in 2016 and replace trustees with managers.

This summer, Morath indicated enough progress had been made to begin the transition back to an elected board. Trustees will gradually be added back to the board, replacing managers, until a board of trustees governs the district.

Two managers, Santoyo and Stella Camacho, ran for seats on the elected board. Camacho cruised to a win with no opponent, but Santoyo lost to Dina Serrano, an Edgewood parent and former district employee. Serrano captured 55.7 percent of the vote.

Santoyo will retain his seat as a manager on the board but will be transitioned out through the trustee-addition process.

“I am glad that the resident voters at the Edgewood district [have voted] me to be in the school board,” Serrano said. “I will do my best to advocate first and foremost for all the EISD students.”

Elsewhere in Bexar County, two school districts saw differing results for bond issues.

In Southside ISD, voters rejected a $17 million bond issue that would have built and updated facilities for extracurricular activities. With about 54 percent of the vote, Southside voters turned down what would have been the second bond issue in two years.

“We know there’s a direct correlation between extracurricular activities and academic success,” Southside Superintendent Mark Eads said in a statement. “We will continue to do all we can to make certain we prepare our students to compete academically and in extracurricular activities. As a school district, we need our community to join us, and we believe we will get there.”

A few miles north, voters in Southwest ISD resoundingly approved its $75 million bond proposition with more than 68 percent of the vote. Bond money will go toward renovations at Southwest High School and Scobee Middle School and the construction of a new natatorium.

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Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.