McAllen ISD board swears in trustees, elects Saldivar president

Sam Saldivar Jr

McALLEN — The school board here swore in two incumbent trustees and one freshman Wednesday evening before voting Sam Saldivar Jr. in as board president during its reorganization of officers.

Saldivar and fellow incumbent Debbie Crane-Aliseda were both sworn in Monday, along with board newcomer Sofia Peña.

Peña beat out opponent Gilda Garcia for the Place 6 seat left undefended after incumbent Larry Esparza opted to make a bid for the city commission.

The new trustee thanked her supporters and the community Wednesday evening, pledging to be an advocate for McAllen’s special needs students and disability community, among other things.

Newly-elected McAllen Independent School District Trustee Sofia Peña is sworn in Wednesday in McAllen. (Courtesy screenshot)

“I promise to be a great public servant, a good steward, and I really honestly feel the weight of the responsibility of every single vote that was cast in my favor — and I respect those that were not,” Peña said. “And I promise to make honest and fair decisions. I will be an advocate for all children, teachers, staff, the McAllen community and everyone involved, but most importantly I will be an advocate for safety, for education, for college, early college and college beyond.”

Along with voting in Saldivar as president, the board elected Tony Forina as vice president and Crane-Aliseda as board secretary.

“Board governance is the efficient oversight method we use to ensure fair process for all, curriculum alignment for each student and district compliance,” Saldivar said. “We know that every hard-earned dollar matters to you and to your family. We will continue to appropriately apply sound fiscal policy and transparency as stewards of our taxpayers’ dollar. We recommit ourselves here tonight to be public servants — to do the required work in support of the instructional core, student centered, inquiry based curriculum at McAllen ISD that has made us such a success and will continue to do so.”

The board also recognized outgoing board president Conrado Alvarado and former board president Marco Suarez, who wasn’t recognized last year due to the pandemic.

“It was a challenging year. You did hear that a lot, and this school district stepped up under the leadership of Dr. Gonzalez, with the oversight of the board, with the administration,” Alvarado said, recognizing principals and administrators in the crowd.

The board also paid its respects to Esparza for his eight years of service as trustee. He called those years an honor.

“I chose tonight to wear this shirt, and it says district of champions — and that’s what we are. Everybody up here, everybody out there, we’re district of champions,” he told the audience. “We put every effort forward to make McAllen ISD the best that it can be, and I know that during the eight years that I’ve served I did my best to make sure that the services for our students were where they needed to be or beyond.”