Block-walking for the two questions that the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) has on the ballot for the Nov. 8 election has been easier than I expected.

The Tax Ratification Election (TRE) is a complicated thing to explain. The SAISD Board of Trustees has been discussing whether or not to do this for three years. The last time we considered it, we realized how complicated it was to explain and decided the deadline to submit to the State was too close – It simply did not give us enough time to educate the public.

The bond is much easier to explain. While some citizens have seen frustration in getting the follow-through on some details in the past – such as where the electrical plugs need to be and whether or not the carpeting is appropriate – citizens, especially parents, are very aware of the needs of the schools. And fortunately, this last bond for $515 million from 2010, set a good example by finishing on time and coming in under budget.

Armed with lots of information about the TRE and ample reasoning and evidence of the need for another bond, SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez, his staff, the members of the Board of Trustees, and members of the Blue Ribbon Task Force Citizens Committee have organized and attended dozens of meetings to explain these two ballot items.

SAISD Board President Patti Radle knocks on doors to inform voters about two questions that the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) has on the ballot for the Nov. 8 election.
SAISD Board President Patti Radle knocks on doors to inform voters about the two SAISD measures on the ballot for the Nov. 8 election. Credit: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / San Antonio Report

We have been joined in support by grassroots organizations such as COPS/Metro who also have held workshops to educate community leaders about the two items. Local LULAC leadership is another example of a community organization that has been promoting the items in the neighborhoods as well.

The anxiety raised by the thought of trying to explain the TRE, asking people to take part in raising taxes, has been unbelievably relieved through great support from grassroots organizations, but also from the business community who will end up paying the majority of the tax.

I live in the economically poorest zip code of SAISD and the county. Would you like to block walk in this area where so many people struggle to put food on the table, to pay their electric bill, and to afford their medicines, and tell them that if these items pass they are going to pay more taxes? It almost hurts and makes you want to cry when you barely get into the explanation and they say things like, “Yes, of course. It’s for the children.  Anything for the children. Our schools really need the help.”

I make sure they heard that it is a tax. But that doesn’t seem to deter them. Of course, they are elated when I tell them that their taxes will not be affected if they are over 65, but I have found, for the most part, that that is not the criteria needed for their support.

Maria Hernandez, whose three nieces are teachers, shares a laugh with SAISD Board President Patti Radle while blockwalking.
Maria Hernandez (right), whose three nieces are teachers, shares a laugh with SAISD Board President Patti Radle while block walking. Credit: Kathryn Boyd-Batstone / San Antonio Report

Parents know their students need more tutoring and more programming. They know their students are capable but need the extra time for studies, that they need modern equipment they may not be able to afford. And they know their students need to be able to function in a classroom where the air conditioning and heating are working.

One thing that has become obvious is that community members are not as interested in what the price tag is for these two ballot items as they are interested in what their children are really going to get. Parents, community, and businesses have waited too long for the boldness of the TRE and this bond. With a board and superintendent so focused on academic improvement, we are unmeasurably grateful for their support.

Let’s get to the polls for the sake of our children, for the sake of the city’s future.

Patti Radle

Mrs. Radle was elected to the SAISD Board of Trustees in May of 2011. She is a graduate of Marquette University with a major in Theology. She obtained her teacher and bilingual certification and a second...