The community is ready to welcome a new EPISD superintendent, although he is not from El Pasoan
Teachers, parents, alumni, and taxpayers won’t see an El Pasoan running the county’s largest school district, although this has been a major public demand during community contribution sessions held at high schools in the region. ‘El Paso last month.
Trustees of the El Paso Independent School District voted on Monday to nominate Laredoan Diana Sayavedra as the superintendent’s only finalist.
Although Sayavedra is new to the area, members of the education community expressed relief that the administrators chose a professional educator with classroom and curriculum experience. She is currently the Assistant Superintendent of ISD in Fort Bend, near Houston, and prior to that she was the District Academic Director. She was also the Director of Curriculum and Education at Pflugerville ISD outside of Austin.
By law, trustees must wait 21 days to hire him. She said on Monday that she expects to be in El Paso by January.
For the El Paso Teachers Association, Sayavedra’s experience put her at the top of the list of the four semi-finalists, whose names were leaked to the press days before the final vote. EPTA is the second-largest union of EPISD employees with nearly 1,000 members.
“She is very familiar with the curriculum that our teachers have to teach at all levels – elementary, middle and high school – and we believe that in order to be an effective superintendent you need to have this training,” said EPTA President Norma. From La Rosa. .
That Sayavedra was one of the top trustees of a similar-sized district was essential for Ross Moore, president of the El Paso chapter of the American Federation of Teachers, EPISD’s largest union with 2,700 members. . Fort Bend has 77,600 students and EPISD has just under 50,000.
Two of the semi-finalists had never been the best administrators of large urban districts.
âIt won’t be a huge learning curve for her,â Moore said.
Although she called for the research to be dropped, in part because the finalists were “inconsistent with the audience’s contribution,” the El Paso Alliance for Righteous Schools is ready to welcome Sayavedra and work with her, said Calvin Zielsdorf, member of the steering committee.
âWe wanted someone who has ties to El Paso so we know we’re not just another stepping stone or a meal ticket,â he said.
Despite this, members of the alliance were delighted that the directors chose a Mexican-American woman and a Spanish speaker – two characteristics requested by the community. Almost 85% of the district’s students are Hispanic and about a third are English language learners, according to state data.
These qualities were especially important to members of Familias Unidas del Chamizal, a community group that advocates for families in the South El Paso neighborhood and wants to see more investment in its schools. EPISD has never had a permanent female superintendent in its 138 year history.
âWe look forward to working with her due to the fact that we have a large number of households headed by women of Mexican origin (in Chamizal),â said Hilda Villegas, founder of Familias Unidas del Chamiza.
Eddie Rodriguez, executive director of the Council on Regional Economic Expansion and Educational Development, said he hopes Sayavedra will bring EPISD into a “successful new chapter after years of complacency and controversy.” This will require “immediate action” to tackle learning loss due to a pandemic and a plan to accelerate learning, he said. CREEED aims to increase higher education levels to boost the region’s economy.
Because Sayavedra is not from El Paso, many said it would be essential for her to meet with members of the community. A frequent criticism of former superintendent Juan Cabrera was that he was inaccessible to the public.
âI know this will be something that she has to overcome: the fact that she is not from El Paso,â said De La Rosa. “If she is to be successful in any of the changes she wants to make within the district, she will need to make sure she has the community behind her.”
EPISD teacher union leaders also want it to focus on building employee confidence by spending time listening and learning from teachers and staff.
Moore’s message to him was simple: âGood luck, we’re counting on you, listen to your employees, they are great and they know what this neighborhood needs.
Cover photo: Diana Sayavedra speaks to media in the EPISD boardroom after being named the sole superintendent finalist on November 15. (Danielle Prokop / El Paso Matters)