Q&A: Hear from the candidates running for HISD's board of trustees covering District I

Three candidates are running for District I on the Houston ISD board of trustees, which covers parts of the Greater Heights, Northside/Northline, Independence Heights and Garden Oaks areas. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Three candidates are running for District I on the Houston ISD board of trustees, which covers parts of the Greater Heights, Northside/Northline, Independence Heights and Garden Oaks areas. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Three candidates are running for District I on the Houston ISD board of trustees, which covers parts of the Greater Heights, Northside/Northline, Independence Heights and Garden Oaks areas. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

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Elizabeth Santos
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Matias Kopinsky
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Janette Garza Lindner
Three candidates are running for District I on the Houston ISD board of trustees, which covers parts of the Greater Heights, Northside/Northline, Independence Heights and Garden Oaks areas. Community Impact Newspaper reached out to each candidate to hear about what they believe are the top challenges facing the district as well as what their priorities would be to solve them.









Elizabeth Santos



Occupation: HISD trustee


Experience: District I Trustee, ten years teaching in District I schools, graduated from District I schools


Campaign Website: www.santos4hisd.com




Why are you running for the HISD board of trustees?



ES: I served as a teacher in our district’s schools for 10 years before running for office. My parents immigrated into this community, and now my son is growing up here. District I had never had a trustee from the Northside before I was elected in 2017, even though 57% of its students live on the east side of I-45. We need a representative who knows our community and our schools.



What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the district today, and how would you tackle it?



ES: Our district has struggled to pay teachers and staff enough to recruit and keep the most talented educators. While in office, I led multiple successful efforts to raise teacher and support-staff salaries. The largest employee organizations in the district are endorsing me because they know how important it is to have someone on the board that gets the job done. And in that respect, my track record speaks for itself.



What would some of your top priorities be if elected?



ES: My priorities have always derived from my belief that our tax dollars should be used where they have the greatest impact on our students—in the classrooms. To that end, I will continue to push for more competitive pay and better working conditions for our educators. I will continue advocating for additional funding for students with special needs, students learning English and students striving to overcome the challenges of poverty.











Matias Kopinsky



Occupation: engineering project manager


Experience: assures that each project has the necessary resources (financial and human) to accomplish set goals


Campaign Website: www.votematias.com
Contact: 713-502-3727




Why are you running for the HISD board of trustees?



MK: I have always been passionate about education. I have always been surrounded by educators due to my mother and grandmother, who are both Argentinian immigrants, being educators for the district. Now that I am a working professional, I have accumulated some necessary resources and life experience. I have decided to fight for high quality education and transparent ethical standards by running for a position on the HISD board of trustees.



What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the district today, and how would you tackle it?



MK: The biggest challenge facing the district today is educator talent retention. The current ideas are stale and not solving any of the attrition problems in the district. We need to increase teachers' salaries by more than 5%, as well as increase all employee salaries. I have fresh, innovative ideas to attract and maintain the top educators of the state such as:better healthcare, increased classroom supplies stipends and more consistency among school leadership.



What would some of your top priorities be if elected?



MK: My top priorities would be to fix the teacher attrition issue. I also want to focus on campus culture; principals need to be committed to staying at their campuses for at least 3-5 years. District employees also need a stronger health care package. The administrative layercake at Hattie-Mae White, HISD-[headquarters], needs to be reduced. We need to refocus those monies back to the schools. Solving these issues would better the education of all HISD students.











Janette Garza Lindner



Occupation: management consultant


Experience: education advocate Arts Connect Houston and Latinos for Education; 20-plus years leading teams through change


Campaign Website: www.janetteforhisd.com
Contact: 713-367-1396




Why are you running for the HISD board of trustees?



JGL: Every child deserves a high-quality education because education transforms lives. As the daughter of a widowed mom who left school in second grade and never learned to read, education gave me opportunities to lead and serve. My corporate experience has shown me the challenges common to governance teams. My personal experiences and nonprofit education work give me insight into the challenges our students face and what’s possible when adults put student needs over their own.



What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the district today, and how would you tackle it?



JGL: HISD is struggling to hire, retain and nurture the best teacher talent in our region. Teachers are the district’s most important asset. If we are to improve student outcomes we must raise salaries and create conditions to allow our teachers to effectively respond to the needs of their students. Any budget the board approves must reflect this vision and put funds where they matter most—in schools, not in the central office.



What would some of your top priorities be if elected?



JGL: I would raise teacher pay, pass a balanced budget and prioritize fully funding our school campuses. These goals require the district to operate in a fiscally responsible and efficient way at all levels. I would also ensure the board sets and monitors goals around key achievement metrics, such as how well our third-grade students are reading, that keep student outcomes at the forefront in school board meetings while maintaining a long-term strategic view.





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