Q&A: Candidates for Austin ISD board of trustees At-Large Position 8

The general election is Nov. 8.

The general election is Nov. 8.

David Quintanilla David Quintanilla[/caption]

David Quintanilla


Experience: I have worked extensively with the district as a board member for the Council on At Risk Youth and Marathon Kids, and I also serve as secretary of the PTA so I know the issues and how things get done. I also am a business owner, an attorney, and I have a master’s in public policy from the London School of Economics, so I bring different perspectives to the complicated challenges we face.



What are the biggest challenges facing AISD, and how would you address them?


Declining enrollment and retention of quality staff. They are not mutually exclusive problems and can be addressed in tandem by changing the conversation from [asking] “Who do we blame?” to one where we first agree on the goals, then set about doing the hard work to make them happen. Too many people believe in the myth that we can fire a few people and see magical results. We need systems that ensure great outcomes, and that starts with leadership at the trustee and superintendent level.



How would you address the predicted long-term enrollment decline in AISD?


We need to do more to communicate what is right in AISD because there is a lot we do well. We also need to treat our teachers and staff well because they are our ambassadors in the community. We have to make sure we are implementing great methods that are working in other diverse, urban districts. As a business owner, I can tell you that the idea of “but we have always done it that way” will not attract more students. If we can do better, nothing should get in our way.







Cindy Anderson Cindy Anderson[/caption]

Cindy Anderson


Experience: My children are products of AISD, providing me with first hand experience as to how decisions made downtown impact our students and schools. I’ve held multiple PTA officer positions, served on campus advisory councils and numerous AISD district-level advisory bodies: District Advisory Council, Budget and Finance Advisory Committee, Career and Technology Education Advisory Committee and Strategic Planning. I’ve served on the Executive Board of the Austin Council of PTAs for five years, an organization that supports leaders across 114 PTAs. I’ve spent 10 years learning the operations and policies of AISD.



What are the biggest challenges facing AISD, and how would you address them?


Budget, enrollment decline and affordability. We are a majority-minority, low socio-economic district with insufficient funding in order to meet the needs of our students. We must implement the right programs, with fidelity, and allocate as much as possible directly to classrooms. The cost of living impacts our families and our employees. We need more affordable housing options in Austin. We need to prioritize competitive compensation for our staff..



How would you address the predicted long-term enrollment decline in AISD?


We need to provide advanced academic options and innovative courses at every campus, improve transitions or “hand-offs” between middle schools and their feeder elementary schools (given that we lose most kids at middle school), and we must excel at telling our story and continue our investment in aggressive marketing strategies. We simply have better educational opportunities and outcomes than our competitors.


Candidates' responses were edited for space.