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Houston and Vidana appointed to fill vacancies on the Waco ISD board

After interviewing several individuals in closed session tonight, the Waco ISD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to appoint Robin Houston to fill the vacancy for an at-large trustee and Jose Vidana to fill the vacancy representing Trustee District 3. Both were appointed to serve until the next regularly scheduled school board election in May 2020. At that time, a special election will be held for the final year of the unexpired term for the at-large position, and an election will be held for a full three-year term representing District 3.

“We are blessed to live in a community that is committed to our students and their success,” board president Angela Tekell said. “It was heartening to see how many people were willing to serve on the school board. While this was by no means an easy decision, I am confident that Robin and Jose will bring valuable perspectives to this board as we search for the district’s next superintendent.”

Houston is a Waco High School alumna and the parent of two Waco ISD students, one of whom also graduated from Waco High School last Saturday. For over a decade, Houston has been the juvenile prosecutor in the McLennan County District Attorney’s office. In her letter to the board, Houston emphasized her personal connection to education as the daughter of a Waco ISD teacher, whose career spanned more than 20 years and four elementary schools.

“My mother… showed me how much work and dedication it takes to be an effective teacher,” Houston wrote. “Observing her triumphs and struggles instilled in me a deep and abiding respect for the profession and specifically for the professionals that teach in our district’s schools.”

A postal carrier who delivers mail in the Alta Vista neighborhood, Vidana and his wife, Letitia, are both members of the University High School Class of 1997. They have six children, including four University High School graduates and two students currently enrolled in Waco ISD. In his letter to the board, Vidana emphasized his connection to the area that he was appointed to represent.

“Being bilingual gives me another opportunity to hear the voices of the Spanish speaking community that is continuously growing and populating the South Waco community,” Vidana wrote. “Another benefit about being bilingual is the ability to break cultural and language barriers that currently exist. I would love to serve the community and let them know that they matter, that the education of their children matters.”

The newly appointed trustees will be sworn in at the board’s next meeting on June 24.

The vacancies that Houston and Vidana were appointed to fill were created by the resignations of Pat Atkins and Larry Perez last month. Atkins, an at-large trustee for 17 years, and his wife will be moving out of Waco ISD later this summer. Perez, who also served on the board for 17 years as District 3’s trustee, cited health problems as the reason for his resignation.

The board invited individuals interested in being appointed to fill one of the vacancies to submit a letter by May 31. Trustees received letters from 16 individuals interested in the at-large appointment and four individuals interested in representing District 3.

The school board will now turn its attention to hiring the district’s next superintendent.

Texas Association of School Boards Executive Search Services is conducting a survey to solicit feedback from the community about the characteristics that the board should look for in the next superintendent. The survey is available at wacoisd.org/feedback through midnight on June 10.

The application deadline for the superintendent’s position is midnight on June 19. The board is scheduled to meet on June 24 for an initial review of applicants. Interviews are expected to start in mid-July, and a lone finalist for the superintendent’s position could be named in early August.