AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Independent School District board of trustees, which oversees 85,000 students and a $1 billion dollar budget, has new leadership.
Monday night, the school board appointed Kendall Pace as the new president. Paul Saldana was chosen as the vice-president, and Julie Cowan is taking over as secretary.
The change was triggered by Gina Hinojosa stepping down from her duties as board president at the end of 2015 to run for state office, but she remains on the school board.
The new president, Kendall Pace, has been a trustee for about a year. She has three boys in AISD schools — two in high school, and one in middle school.
The busy mom has a background in finance, worked for an educational non-profit, and says she is passionate about improving outcomes in urban schools for all students.
“I know we have a lot of challenges, declining enrollment and we certainly have fiscal challenges,” said Pace.
The board has a lot on their plate, and Pace says it is going to take a combination of changes to even out overcrowded and under-enrolled schools, including shifting campus boundaries.
“There’s a lot of sensitivity in our communities especially because Austin is one of the most segregated cities, and we have made promises and broken promises over the years to certain communities,” said Pace. “So we want to be sensitive to that, but by doing nothing we continue to lose students.”
Pace is all for more aggressive recruiting, which she says includes spreading the message about what schools offer thru advertising, door-knocking and word of mouth.
She adds the goal is not just attracting more families, but teachers, too.
“Are there ways we can partner with the city, county, can we look at affordable housing?” said Pace. “We want affordable housing for our teachers, we want affordable housing for our families.”
During her short time on the school board, Pace says she is pleased at how the board and superintendent work together, and are able to move forward even when there are differences of opinion.