San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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April 28th, 2008
School board elections – Jesse Ponce, Jr.

Jesse Ponce, Jr., assistant shop supervisor and carpenter, has been declared elected school trustee, single member district three, by the San Marcos CISD due to his unopposed candidacy for the position.

Ponce, a life long resident of the school district, has worked in Hays County all of his life. He worked for Marshall Gas for thirteen years and for the last seven years has worked for the Hays CISD.

For purposes of full disclosure, Mr. Ponce’s two oldest sons have graduated from San Marcos High School and his youngest son is now attending Miller Junior High School. To his knowledge, Ponce has no relatives employed by the San Marcos CISD but he has a lot of extended family in town.

Ponce wanted to serve on the school board because “many things in San Marcos need attention.” His list includes “improving our student’s grades,” “improving teacher pay,” and “finding ways to save money on energy use.”

For Ponce, the single greatest problem facing our school district is the “Hispanic drop out rate.” He says, “We need to put an end to it.”

Ponce agrees that there is a perception that neighboring school districts are better than ours and “that is one of the reasons I wanted to run.” For Ponce, the perception does not reflect the realities of our area school districts. To deal with the perception, the school district needs to “go out to the public with information” about the quality of our schools.

On the relationship between academics and sports, Ponce noted that at “the high school level, athletes have to keep their grades up to play.”

To deal with the projected growth, Ponce observed that our school district “is not growing as fast as surrounding districts” and that the perception of our school district’s quality “is contributing to slow growth.”

The best way to cope with academic achievement differences, Ponce says, is to “help students achieve their goals.” He pointed to such programs as Pathfinders which was established to aid in this issue. Ponce promised that “I intend to be more involved with that.”

If he were granted one wish that would improve the school district, it would be “getting people to understand that education is important. We need finances to keep our schools functioning as centers of learning.”

For Ponce, the single most critical part of the educational process in our community that he feels will be an on-going problem is “keeping teachers long term. we have a high turnover rate. We need to have students knowing our teachers because it helps build trust.”

In conclusion, Ponce said, “I’m very new to this. I’m sure that I’ll be learning a lot. I’m a hard worker and reminded people that we need to work together.”

School board election early voting runs from April 28 to May 6. Election day is May 10. Please click here to find full information on times, dates, and places for early voting and election day voting for SMCISD school board elections.

The San Marcos Area League of Women Voters is holding a school board candidate debate on April 28.

By ED MIHALKANIN, Ph.D

Audio interview with Jesse Ponce, Jr.

[display_podcast]

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0 thoughts on “School board elections – Jesse Ponce, Jr.

  1. Mr. Ponce,

    Thanks for taking time to share you thoughts and vision about our school district. You are to be commended for throwing your hat in the ring to serve our community in this noble cause. Best of luck in your campaign.

  2. I hate to sound like a broken record, but you never know who will read a given page and this is too important to ignore.

    Our schools need work.

    Yes, the Hispanic dropout rate is a problem. According to the TEA, graduation rates for the class of 2005 in San Marcos were

    90% for white students
    76% for Hispanic students

    Compare that with Hays:

    91% white
    84% Hispanic

    or Wimberley

    96% white
    100% Hispanic

    or Navarro

    98% white
    90% Hispanic

    For LEP (limited English proficiency) students, the picture is not so bright:

    67% graduation rate in Hays
    10% graduation rate in San Marcos

    Wimberley and Narvarro were N/A.

    Then, look at SAT scores.

    In San Marcos, 53% of the class of 2005 took the SATs and 21% scored above criterion (score of 1110 or higher). The mean score was 961.

    Hays: 67% took the SATs and 20% scored above criterion. Mean – 965.
    Wimberley: 82% took the SATs and 44% scored above criterion. Mean – 1070.
    Navarro: 86% took the SATs and 30% scored above criterion. Mean – 1031.

    State of Texas: 66% took the SATs and 27% scored at/above criterion. Mean – 992.

    53% of San Marcos’s class of 2005 took the SATs? With a university right down the street? We’re not just below our neighbors; we’re below average for the state.

    We need to demand more for our tax money and more for our students.

  3. The numbers certainly point toward some degree of ineffectiveness in the district. As the Trustees of the School Board are the only personnel decisions that we as citizens of San Marcos can directly affect, it would follow that we should demand these numbers be addressed.

    I am with Ted. The time for a popularity contest election is over… it is time for hard questions… and time for those running for these offices to address them.

    Tonight, the League of Women Voters will hold debates for the school board races. It would seem that anyone who ever complains about the district’s performance should attend and ask these questions of the candidates.

  4. Do you know the time and place? I’ve poked around your site and theirs. I’m guessing it is at the activity center, but I can’t seem to find any information.

  5. Interesting debate. Given how few questions there were from the public, it would have been nice (and easy) to give the public more time.

    I did just find the 2007 report, which I assume is the most recent, based on my very clever detective work, replacing the 2006 in the URL with 2007 and then 2008.

    I’m kind of kicking myself for not finding this before, but the numbers are almost unchanged.

    For the class of 2006

    89% of white students graduated
    76% of Hispanic students graduated
    55% of LEP students graduated (this was a huge improvement, but they only represented 8% of the class)

    52% took the SAT, with a mean score of 960.
    71% of white students took the SAT, with a mean score of 1035.
    38% of Hispanic students took the SAT, with a mean score of 892.

    And, to the busybody sitting behind me when I asked my second question, the woman who whispered “That’s the parents’ responsibility. I’m so sick of…”

    Well, I have no kids. So, why don’t you tell me where to sign up to give my tax money to some of the parents of the underprivileged kids in this city, istead of to the school that serves your spoiled (white) kid so well.

    I guess there must be something in the water in San Marcos, since the schools in every direction from here seem to have children with parents who do a better job. It’s a shame that the schools have to be judged by the quality of the parents, huh?

    Give me a break.

    I pay a lot of taxes already and there is no excuse for this level of performance. If it is out of the hands of the schools and is “the parents’ responsibility”, then stop asking me for more money.

    Our schools and the university should be drawing people to San Marcos. Where are the people? Where is the growth?

    35% of Hispanic students took the SAT. I’m guessing the other 65% didn’t see college as an option; and with a mean score of 892, the other 35% probably weren’t going to Texas State.

    I wonder where the “Ivory Tower” view of the university comes from.

    Sorry this post doesn’t flow too well. It’s late and I don’t have the energy to work out better transitions from subject to subject.

    Here’s the 2007 report:

    http://www.tea.state.tx.us/perfreport/aeis/2007/district.srch.html

    Read it and weep. Or make excuses…

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