A Southside Independent School District bus leaves the recently constructed Menchaca Early Childhood Center.
The Southside Independent School District board has voted to cancel a districtwide bond slated for November. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

Almost a year and a half after Texas’ Commissioner of Education Mike Morath appointed a board of managers at Southside Independent School District, that board has a new member and a timeline to restore district governance to elected trustees.

Morath appointed CPS Energy Director of Community Programs Jesse Hernandez to the board of managers. Hernandez lives in the district and is the chairman-elect of the West San Antonio Chamber of Commerce.

Jesse Hernandez

“I bring a business sense to the board,” Hernandez said. “I also bring community engagement experience and understanding the needs of the community, and understanding small business, entrepreneurship, and advocacy.”

Hernandez replaces Gabe Farias, who stepped down from his position “to pursue career opportunities,” according to the district. Farias is the director of business development, community, and public affairs for Kellum Family Medicine and served as the Southside board’s vice president.

Another manager, Lonna Clinch, was elected as the board’s vice president in Farias’ place.

Morath suspended the powers of Southside’s elected board of trustees in 2017 after the Texas Education Agency found that the district’s governance was dysfunctional.

At its November meeting, Texas Education Agency Deputy Commissioner Jeff Cottrill told the board that the state agency was impressed with the performance of the board of managers and with the stability of the district, which serves about 5,600 students. Cottrill projected that by 2021 the TEA could turn over the district’s governance to an elected board, a Southside ISD spokesperson said.

Another district in San Antonio is in the midst of the same transition that Southside ISD needs to complete to regain elected control.

Morath initiated the turnover process in Edgewood ISD this summer, adding two trustee positions to the governing board of managers. This process will continue with trustee positions added and manager positions removed until a full elected board of seven trustees is restored.

A board of managers was installed in Edgewood ISD in May 2016, about a year before Morath named managers for Southside ISD.

Cottrill told the district that TEA plans to add two trustees in May 2019, three trustees in May 2020, and the final two trustees in May 2021, a district spokesperson said.

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Emily Donaldson

Emily Donaldson reports on education for the San Antonio Report.