SBCISD officials at odds over UTHealth program

Staff Writer

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At a special meeting of the San Benito CISD Board of Trustees on Aug. 7—in a vote of 4-3—trustees green-lighted an $800,000 program with the University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHealth) at Houston that will provide the district with instructional support service.

Although the board’s majority ruled in favor of implementing this support service, some trustees have expressed concern about the program’s cost and effectiveness. Trustee Yliana González said, “It’s very obvious that our district needs help…. I know how crucial it is to receive staff development and the effectiveness of that. My concern, primarily, was that it’s a significant amount that we’re investing into this program, and I hope to see (positive) results.”

Reportedly, at least three other schools in the Valley have implemented a similar plan with success. González said those schools “funded the program with grants” while San Benito must utilize federal money “that could have been used to purchase student materials.”

SBCISD Superintendent of Schools Antonio G. Limón said, “Before we made this decision, we made sure that the money we were going to use would not affect areas Ms. González was talking about.” He explained that the usage of these Federal funds “complies with state regulations.”

Arnold Padilla, SBCISD Board President, said the program’s costs were of paramount concern to the Board. “Trustees need to understand that we need to measure the success of what has been in use over the past few years. (A few years ago) we spent $600,000 on one software program that is not being utilized at all. What we have been doing has not worked.”

The Board voted to approve this program for one-year, at which time trustees, with the guidance of the new superintendent, will be able to evaluate whether or not the district should continue utilizing the program. From feedback received by other districts, Padilla and Limón stated they are confident in the program’s success.

“No matter how good a program is,” said González, “it always has its deficiencies, and you always have to support it through other programs. And in order for a (new) program to be successful, you…may need five years. The agreement that we entered into is only for one school year.

Limón stated that the district’s theme for the 2014-2015 school year is “improving instruction.”

The superintendent added, “Improving instruction will equal improved student achievement (and) help teachers improve their instruction under UTHealth.”

“The program’s purpose is to educate, train and assist our professionals to deliver in a much better way,” said Padilla. “We have high expectations for it. Not doing anything or continuing with what has not worked (in years past) is a bad investment in itself.”

González said she feels that the district might be best-served by utilizing many programs and not focusing so much of its resources into one program; furthermore, she said she would like to see the empowerment of the district’s current principals, assistant principals and other educators.

“We have tremendous staff and good people working for us. The program will work with the competent staff that we have. It is a large investment, but we’re also measuring that with unsuccessful ventures in the past,” Padilla said.

Still, González said, “I am skeptical this one program will provide the success we are looking for…. Initially, Mr. Limón informed us that staffing cost were approximately $600,000 and (UTHealth) was expecting to get compensated roughly $200,000. If staffing costs go up, it could cost more. All in all it’s an investment that will cost almost a million dollars.”

“I expect our trustees to support what has been approved by the majority,” Padilla said. “It is in the best interest of the district to support the program—(as well as) our investment and the staff and contractors assisting us with it.”


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  1. This new board has proven to be a nothing but power hungry wannabe politicians. Starting with Anna Cruz and her puppets have really made an impact to our district ($) economy. What’s next Super Arnold, raising taxes to replenish all the tax dollars you guys have spent foolishly to pay back all your political favors. I can remember Oscar Medrano while campaigning, came to my front door and said ” if I lose my campaign, my opponent will increase taxes”.. That straight from his mouth in verbatim.( His a total joke). On the other hand, you have Angel Mendez who uses the district to funnel students to UTB through his own A & E consulting services. In addition, I’m totally against the coalition and the $800k plus Anna Project, 2 yr lemon contract extension and all their personal agenda at tax dollars, and completely ignoring our children’s education. This has to be the worst coalition of San Benito school board history.. Keep up the great work puppets as we see our district go down the toilet!!!! I agree wholeheartedly, Anna Cruz must go- 2015,she will not be reelected…

    • Juanita on August 18, 2014 at 10:09 pm
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    Another special board meeting on Thursday and no video recording? This is getting old. Someone needs to learn how to plan for these meetings. We as taxpayers should be able to watch the video after the meeting. Having a meeting at 5:00 p.m.? REALLY… some of us work!
    Your lack of planning is beyond comprehension. I sure hope that as employees we are getting some kind of raise and not some crumbs.

      • If the shoe fits on August 19, 2014 at 3:28 pm
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      Juanita, Very True! I remember how when the previous majority was on many criticized them for holding “special” board meetings. I remember specifically, Rosalinda Garcia, questioning if Julian Huerta as vice president could hold the meetings on the regular scheduled times as opposed to having the special board meetings. Whats the difference now? Can’t Hector hold them? Why must everyone accomodate their schedules to satisfy SUPER Arnold? This is ridiculous! This majority is doing what they opposed from the previous majority. Ay,Ay, Ay, Only in San Bene! Peace out Rosie Garcia!

      • Give me a break ! on August 19, 2014 at 4:56 pm
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      Starting times and how meeting is conducted is at the convenience of the board chair. So how does he work a full 40 hours as director of the housing and then be on time for these meetings??
      ANSWER…he doesn’t! He does what he wants to do and is accountable to NO ONE on both counts. Must be lonely at the top.

    • CAVA Supporter on August 18, 2014 at 10:51 am
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    Maybe the elections are not over yet…CAVA is in town looking under every rock for the low-life vote harvesters that are now infamous for ‘stuffing’ the ballot box’ and corrupting every City and school board election for a generation! The smug adult day care vote harvesters continue to brag and laugh about how they were able to get this one or that one elected, but soon it’s going to be OVER WITH for these crooks…watchale!
    Right, Lupita??

    • Elizabeth on August 18, 2014 at 8:32 am
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    Academics is a plus! Thank you Ms. Cruz and to some of the other board members too. Hoping for a better year for everyone!

    • Ronnie on August 17, 2014 at 6:26 pm
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    For once this district will have a process in place to address academics. Thank you Ms. Cruz for bringing this concept to SBCISD.. you did what the assistant superintendent should have done years ago.
    Let us hope that whoever comes in as superintendent can lead this district and not use SBCISD as a gateway to a higher paying district.
    Time will tell.

    1. @ Ronnie
      I only agree with one point you made in your blog that would be, Asst. Super. Celeste Sanchez never did her job and was never held accountable resulting in unacceptable academic standards. As far as thanking Anna Cruz for pushing this $800k plus program down the districts throat is not her place to do so. In addition, the district and staff has been left out in the dark pertaining to this unwarranted program. Furthermore, she is elected to set Policy’s and push for accountability and transparency to the constituents who placed her there. It’s obvious these board members have done neither, because you’re Anna Cruz and her puppets hired retired Celeste Sanchez for $75. hr for consulting services. Now does that make any sense at all? We as tax payers and parents are sick of all the politically motivated agenda these board members have displayed at the cost of our tax $$$$ and ignoring our children’s education. I agree with all the previous bloggers that say, Anna Must Go 2015!!!!! I’m not voting for her and several other tax payers feel the same!

  2. It’s amazing you have certain bloggers protecting the coalition by stating, it’s the parents fault our children’s education scores are bad. We pay taxes and leave our children’s education success to the school district and this is what we get back in return, political agenda by selfish board members that don’t have children in our district. That’s that make any sense! That’s the type of supporters these horrible coalition board members have and what they represent. We the levelheaded parents and voters are seeing the mess these board members are doing and they will be held accountable because there’s a lot of eyes looking. I agree with previous bloggers it’s time to get our school district back and stop all these personnel agenda crap… First step, VOTE ANNA CRUZ OUT!!!!!!!

  3. This new board coalition is a result of our community not focusing on what really matters, our children and their future. We all need to continue to ask questions and keep up with all the decisions being made by the board. They need to be held accountable because when they ran their campaign they talked a lot crap about the opponents, meanwhile, this guys are doing exactly what they praised not to do. I’m sorry people but these board members- Medrano, Anna, Super Arnold, Mendez are simply puppets and a total disappointment. There has been a lot talk around town about the boards bad decisions and all for their personnel gain. I applaud all the people who have the district and our children as their priority. Keep up the good work and expose evil.. I have to agree with the previous blogs ANNA CRUZ- has to go no doubt about it.

    • Enlightened on August 15, 2014 at 3:06 pm
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    I’ve you’ve been an employee long enough, you know that loyalty in SBCiSD is greatly rewarded. If you are in a grant created position and the grant funding is up, don’t worry, you can work in central office… There are so many assistants and directors in central office, it’s a miracle that any superintendent that comes to work for this district will have to do any “work” at all.
    @just wrong
    Yes, we have many subpar, overpaid administrators in this district. In fact, if you look at the average administrator pay in this district, it is significantly higher than the state average for districts of comparable size. In contrast, the average teacher salary for SBCISD is well under the state average for districts of comparable size. Let’s be honest, who’s going to have the greatest impact on your child’s education? Administrators or teachers?

    Now, in no way am I defending any board member, I don’t know any of them personally, but to all who are trying to lay the blame on one, I do remind you that all of the subpar, overpaid administrators and accountability lacking leaders of the district were brought in and hired under the school boards of the past. Not just this current one, or even the one before that. These “leaders” were hired and given free reign of the district well before the past two current boards came into play.

    Celeste Sanchez was Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum when all of the scores started to tank. Where’s the accountability? There was none. She has now moved on and become Mayor and has been given a consultant position with the very same district she couldn’t bring scores up in for years. Mr. Limon has been superintendent during the very same decline. He has just been given an extension and will be doing a lot less work once a new superintendent is found. Central office is top heavy with assistants, directors, and support personnel that take a huge chunk out of the budget every year. Meanwhile, teachers are asked to do more every year with less. Less training, less supplies, less support, less parental involvement, less time to plan…..

    Something has got to give….. Just saying…..

      • Sorry, Charley on August 16, 2014 at 12:06 am
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      By placing the blame on individual employees or specific board members, you take away from the real issues.
      The majority of the problems with the SBCISD is with the parents. There are not enough parents interested in their own child’s education.
      * Instead of demanding accountability from their school board, they will vote for anyone that will hire them or their compadres.
      * Instead of being focused on education, they are more worried if the football team is going to have a winning season!
      * Instead of having an interest in the real issues facing SBCISD, they are interested in a twelve pack and sitting in front of the TV to watch the perennial loser Cowboys on Sunday!

      And so it goes.

  4. @witnessed
    It’s unfortunate we have subpar- overpaid leaders in our district, but that’s the product of the board allowing it to happen. Anna Cruz is a pathetic joke along with Greer and everyone knows it, but since there is no accountability it continues to plaque our district. The only to fix it is come out and vote 2015 Anna Cruz out and hopefully we can restore the little dignity these idiots have left behind. Employees stay positive help will come if you it, VOTE ANNA CRUZ THE HELL OUT!!

    • Witnessed on August 14, 2014 at 8:06 pm
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    I am employed at SBCISD. My colleagues and I have repeatedly witnessed Dr. Greer’s nonsensical babbling. The worst is when she goes on a tirade and begins to scold the audience. Then she will blame the failure of the bilingual program on anyone who is in her line of vision. (Dr. Greer oversees the bilingual program for the district.) It’s no wonder the scores for this student population (ELLs) is at an all time low. This is reflective of Dr. Greer’s leadership. Now what’s really puzzling is that a couple of years ago Greer received a $13,000 raise. No other director’s salary was adjusted, just hers. There were many reasons given, she has a PHD, she heads several programs, she’s underpaid compared to other directors in surrounding districts, etc. Now it gets real interesting. The board member backing this steep raise was no one other than Anna Cruz. The same Anna Cruz who pushed for the new 800k reading program because she works for the university who developed this program. And who found the monies in her federal budget to fund this program? That’s right Dr. Margarita Greer. She is also our federal program director. See how it all connects. Yet the board is struggling to find monies to give the rest of their employees the raise they rightfully deserve. Laughable? No! This is Infuriating!!!

  5. @ Peter Flores
    I agree with your logic totally, but unfortunately in San Benito that will never happen. We voted these board members because they harped on spreading tax payer dollars, holding people accountable and transparency. Really, first signs of disaster bringing lemon back with 2 year extension.. Plus a sealed investigation in top of that, but evil always fails( the article of Mendez came out back in May and board kept it quiet). Now that’s what we have heading and overseeing our district. We’re in for a disaster and that just the honest truth. I personally think the damage these board have caused in only a few months will take years to recover from financially and educational process. Teachers and Administrates( except Super and Asst. super) please keep the faith and continue doing a great job with the tools you are given.. 2015 can’t come fast enough!!!’ Anna Cruz must go!!!

    • Peter Flores on August 14, 2014 at 2:39 pm
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    I’ll agree with Dan about needing new leadership. However, it starts at the top. A blanket statement that all principals/administrators are not up to snuff is incorrect. Let me give you one specific ,current example: Rangerville with 5 distinctions. Great Job! Now in reading this blog, if Dr. Greer can not present and get her point across why is she a federal program director? Again this is according to the blog. So let’s say this is factual. This is when top administration, aka the superintendent, needs to act. Document this type of behavior, this lack of organization, and knowledge. We need to retain staff this is impacting students in a positive manner. We need to bite the bullet and not extend contracts to those that are not assisting our students. It’s that simple. Start making hard decisions, backed up with data, don’t be selective ( ie if they are your compadres they get a pass), set high expectations, and hold ALL employees accountable. Problem solved, it really is that simple.

  6. Once again super Arnold lied to the tax payers that a $600k program bought last year did not work and is not being implemented by our staff. Arnold you’ve just proven to everyone our nothing but a puppet who regurgitates false information to make you $800k viable… Your a joke along with the others who voted for the ” Anna Cruz $800k plus program” .. What a joke.. We are proud to say the product bought last year have worked great with great improvement and the facts and results don’t lie. That needs to be published in the San Benito News to expose Arnold’s lying tactics. 2015 can’t come fast enough to get Anna Cruz the hell out!! Joke

    • Working together on August 14, 2014 at 9:25 am
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    “Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy.”

    • Dan on August 13, 2014 at 10:41 pm
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    It’ s time for some new leadership in SBCISD…. Same old principals doing the same old things… That is why this district is where it is.
    If we need to spend money for our children then do it. I applaud those board members who want the best for our kids. It’s time for a change. .. Make it happen. The wanna be supt is just playing politics. Elections are right around the corner. If caring for our kids was important, then we would not be in this situation.

    • Juan on August 13, 2014 at 9:09 pm
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    Why is everybody so baffled my Arnold’s performance? Didn’t he run that SB EDC before,and everybody had a chance to see his work,why so shocked now.He is what he is.

    • Juan on August 13, 2014 at 9:42 am
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    Another one of those “special meetings” guys.Watchale.

    • ATX on August 13, 2014 at 9:34 am
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    If you want to make an omelet…you’re gonna have to break some eggs.

    • Como es Juan on August 13, 2014 at 8:10 am
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    And I bet all of you all complaining were the same ones supporting the purchase of the Chuy Tablets last year, correct?

      • Searaven on August 14, 2014 at 4:28 am
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      It is not about tablets…..its about one child that got molested and nothing was done until she tried to commit suicide………its about certain students getting their grades changed because they are friends of the Lemon……its about a mechanic that could not and did not fill out an application because he cannot read or write English, but is OM father-in-law and cannot be touched even when he steals…….What if it was your child that got molested?

        • Peace on August 15, 2014 at 7:00 am
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        Searaven, you are absolutely right. This is about the children. Those tablets were a waste and are probably sitting in a junk piled somewhere because they didn’t work. But the purchase of those tablets pushed through very easily and simply because they were bought from Chuy, a board member’s father. This man benefited and made so much more money The moment his daughter was elected to the board. If a public records request is made, you will personally see the big jump in his business. (Even he has come on here to blog how happy he is driving to the bank-how classy of him)

        It saddens me to read about the child that was molested. My heart goes out to her and her family. Children should never have to go through this.

        With all these allegations coming to light, I wonder. All the money spent to investigate a superintendent and not one but three law firms (oHanlon/Flores/& the last outside firm) could not come up with solid evidence to get rid of the superintendent. So, Who is wrong here? It just seems a little shady. Everything.

        My comments are not meant to disregard your comments. I want the same as you do. Fairness for all parties and justice for children. The problem is that not this board nor the previous has done anything in fairness or for justice. I pray for this district. Boy, do I pray!!

  7. I agree with all the bloggers on this waste of tax payer dollars. This board coalition has no shame what so ever. Anna Cruz and Mendez have direct ties to UT System and should be investigated for it. Only in San Benito conflict of interest doesn’t play a role, and it’s free for all personnel gain at Tax Payers expense! This board is a total joke and thank you editor for continuing to expose that horrible decisions these board members are making. I really hope TEA, TASB or the FBI pay a visit to our wonderful school district so all this mess can get clean up.. It’s happening all over the valley SB is next.. Let’s just seat back watch the fireworks display..

  8. The UT $800k plus program pushed by Anna and Mendez was a typical political move. These board members who voted for this waste of tax dollars have no respect nor care what we the staff have to say about implementing a program to our children. Several Principles had the opportunity to view a presentation about it, and voiced their concerns of discontent for the program. That’s coming from the leaders of our district and they get over turned by the micro managing board members Anna Cruz, Mendez, Oscar and Super Arnold aka Puppet. People we are witnessing politics at it’s worse with these board members. Anna Cruz is simply creating 13 new jobs for her friends to solidify grantee votes for her next election 2015. Anna must go and all the people that voted for this self centered, greedy women should be ashamed at your self for believing and entrusting our children and district to her. She is in total control and making a huge mess at our tax payer dollar.. Anna Cruz must go!!!!!!

    • Monica Lopez on August 12, 2014 at 9:59 pm
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    Last week during a principal’s meeting Dr. Greer informed administrators that the board would be voting on a new program which would be implemented at the elementary level. This was the first time principals received information on this program. Dr. Greer indicated she was told not to give principals information, but she felt she had to inform them about this excellent, yet secretive program. Dr. Greer could not explain the Texas Literacy Initiative. She did even know it targeted reading. At a compensation rate of 95,000 a year you would think she would have more details to share. After all, this program is being funded with federal monies and Dr. Greer is the Federal Program Director. Maybe this program is awesome? Maybe this is what SBCISD needs? Did we look at test data before spending 800k? Did we visit neighboring districts to see the program in action? Did we compare school districts results before and after implementation of the Texas Literacy Initiative? I bet the answer to these questions is NO! An under examined decision. How disappointing!

    • If the shoe fits on August 12, 2014 at 9:52 pm
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    All Anna Cruz is seeing is dollar signs! Chu-Ching!! Unfortunately Super Arnold fell for it too. I had higher expectations of this new majority, in particular Super Arnold, but I’m disappointed by this move. I’m certain out staff is very capable of accomplishing what UT claims to accomplish. Anna, Oscar, Angel, and Super Arnold are spending money like it’s pocket change. I hope they at least have the decency to higher qualified individuals to lead and teach our children.

      • If the shoe fits, wear it on August 13, 2014 at 3:28 pm
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      Arnold is but a pawn, don’t you get it??
      If it’s not one gang, it will be the other. Except with these gangs, they corrupt the outcome of elections for the benefit of their family and friends.
      The manipulation of the vote over the past generation has gotten us where we are. As long as the SBCISD remains corrupt to the core, you get what you pay for. As long as stupid voters put up with it, what do you expect?? Votes can be bought CHEAP in this town.

      “It’s not about electing the right people. It’s about a narrowing their responsibilities.” -John Stossel

    • Searaven on August 12, 2014 at 8:58 pm
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    Two of the Trustees that voted work for UT……..ethics out the window.

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