South San ISD board meeting logs show more than 85 hours, $254K spent from January to July

SAN ANTONIO – It's been nearly two months since South San Independent School District superintendent Alexandro Flores resigned from his position, and the board has not yet started looking for his permanent replacement.

Dolores Sendejo was appointed as the interim superintendent. The board has filled two out of the three vacated trustee seats after three board members resigned on the same day Flores left.

KSAT investigated the length of the board meetings since the beginning of the year. One of the concerns raised by the Lone Star Governance monitor is that the meetings were taking too long. As part of the district's participation with the Lone Star Governance monitor, it is required to keep track of the time each meeting takes in a time management log and staff tracker.

The logs from January to July showed South San ISD spent more than 85 hours in a total of 19 meetings. The total amount of money spent preparing for those meetings by the staff was $254,000. 

Phil Gore, with Texas Association for School Boards, said an average school board meeting should last no more than three hours.

The average meeting for the district in that period was 4.5 hours. The longest meeting was on May 15 and lasted eight hours.

"Most of us haven't made the best decision in our life after 10 or 11 p.m., so certainly, if the meeting is going to midnight or 1 in the morning, it raises a lot of different issues," such as transparency and public participation, Gore said.

KSAT compared South San ISD with two other school districts.

Harlandale ISD is a Lone Star Governance member, but its time management and staff tracker data are not yet available. Looking over the district's agendas for the same period, the board met 19 times and logged about 40 hours. Their average meeting was two hours, and the longest was four hours.

Northside ISD is not part of Lone Star Governance. It spent 28 hours in 15 meetings, and its meetings were under two hours, according to online agendas between January to July.

South San ISD Board President Connie Prado pins the blame on former Superintendent Flores. She issued the following statement on the matter:

"If you have noticed, our Board meetings of late, have complied with the recommended Lone Star Governance model of 2 hours, when feasible.

"In fact, our last Board meeting lasted only 2 ½ hours.  It seems the change in administrative leadership has made a big difference.  Unfortunately, in the last few months a void in leadership caused the Board to "step up to the plate".  For the time you have chronicled, the Board was forced to ask questions, too many questions and clarifications.  This was the time period when the Board was attempting to re-open our schools.  When the Board did submit questions ahead of a Board meeting, the responses either arrived the day of the meeting or were vague and inconclusive.  Therefore, the appearance of Board overreach seemed to be a reoccurrence. 

"The Board did attempt to perform its due diligence and financial oversight in the effort to re-open our schools.  Unfortunately, we were met with a strong resistance and non-compliance of directives.  Thus, this contributed to the amount of time we needed at Board meetings.  Not to mention, the number of unnecessary Board meetings that were held out of necessity. 

I am happy to report with the appointment of our Superintendent, Ms. Sendejo and the appointment of three new board members our meetings are back to once a month.  Also, we are in compliance with the Lone Star Governance Model, whenever possible.  Additionally, the appointment of Dr. Buck Gilcrease as a Mentor to the Board of Trustees and the Superintendent has brought clarity of mission to all our efforts.  "The New Team of 8" is eager and excited to work together in a positive, collaborative manner to focus on student outcomes.  With the change of administrative leadership and new board members, I feel confident the Board is now on the right path and positive changes are coming to South San."

Flores could not be reached for comment.

About the Author

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.

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