Four seats up for grabs on Valley View school board

(From left to right) Mario Degollado, Jaime Gaona, Sara Perez, Juan Viveros and Francisco Santana Jr.

Voters will see four contested races in the Valley View ISD School Board election in November.

Incumbents Jose A. “Tony” Rosillo and Susana Arredondo will both face challengers for their Place 4 and 7 seats, respectively.

Place 5 incumbent Ricardo Cortez Jr. and Place 6 incumbent Noe Pruneda have not filed to run.

Regardless of the outcome, the board can expect to see a shakeup in its leadership.

Pruneda currently serves as board president and Cortez Jr. serves as board secretary. Arredondo is the board vice president while Rosillo is the assistant secretary.

PLACE 4

Rosillo, 45, lives in Hidalgo and is a behavior specialist, according to his candidate application.

Rosillo, who did not respond to requests for comment, will defend his seat against Mario Degollado, a 43-year-old branch manager in the transportation industry from Hidalgo.

A U.S. licensed customs broker, Degollado says his personal and professional character qualify him to serve on the board.

“In order to have a custom broker’s license you have to be interviewed by the FBI, by ICE and the Department of Treasury. It’s really important to have a role model in the district, especially in a school district,” he said. “My honesty, my integrity, is really important. I want to bring that to the school district. It is important to show the parents, the district, the students, that there is a lot they can achieve if they are honest and have integrity.”

If elected, Degollado’s priorities for his term include creating a committee to assess district needs, improving district finances, hiring more counselors, and, especially, improving communication between the district and parents.

“The main objective right now is to improve communication,” he said. “There’s some instances where the parents aren’t aware of what’s going on in the district. Changes of classes, teachers being out or whatever, and they’re not being informed. I think it’s one of the main issues because we’ve talked to many parents and they complain about it, that they don’t know what’s going on in the district.”

PLACE 5

Two newcomers will face off for Ricardo Cortez Jr.’s undefended Place 5 seat: Jaime Gaona and Gabriel S. Garcia.

Gaona, 31, lives in Hidalgo and works as the director for the Hidalgo youth center.

His experience with the center, Gaona says, qualifies him to serve on the board.

“I’ve been serving the city of Hidalgo and its youth for more than 10 years. This includes Hidalgo ISD, Valley View ISD, the whole community. I feel that this will help me serve the students from Valley View ISD,” he said.

A reserve police officer and former dispatcher, Gaona says he would prioritize student safety and well-being if elected.

“That’s what I bring — my experience, my point of view, my vision for the police department,” he said. “Valley View currently has a police department, so I would want to check the ins and outs of everything that’s going on.”

Garcia, 52, lists himself as a federal officer from Hidalgo on his candidate application. He did not respond to requests for comment.

PLACE 6

Another pair will run against each other for Noe Pruneda’s undefended Place 6 seat: Juan A. Pimentel and Juan Viveros.

Pimentel, 46, describes himself as an educational diagnostician on his candidate application form. He did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.

Viveros, 22, works at the Hidalgo Municipal Court and lives in Pharr.

Viveros says if elected he would look for ways to strengthen bilingual education in the district.

“Lots of the community, their first language is Spanish, so it’s important for us that they have multiple languages in their lives. Different languages, different culture, all of that,” he said.

A former student at the district, Viveros says he’s qualified to serve because of his ability to understand its students and their challenges.

“I know the needs of our students because I was one of them,” he said. “I came from Mexico when I was at the age of 11, so I know the process and how hard it is to get a bilingual program and all of that.”

PLACE 7

Place 7 incumbent Susana Arredondo, who lists herself as a 38-year-old elementary principal from Hidalgo on her candidate application, will defend her seat against two challengers — Sara Perez and Francisco Santana Jr.

Arredondo also did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.

Perez, 35, is from Hidalgo and works as a principal at Caceres Elementary in Donna.

A graduate of Valley View and a former employee of the district, Perez says her experience with education in the community and in general will serve her well if elected.

“I know what Valley View ISD offered to me and has to offer, but I’ve also learned moving out of the district into a bigger district what Valley View ISD lacks, and the opportunities our students are lacking because it’s not being given to them,” she said.

If elected, Perez says she would focus on beefing up curriculum for the district’s students.

“The curriculum that I’ve seen or that I was in when I was at Valley View is pretty much stagnant. It hasn’t grown, it hasn’t developed to lead the next generation with the implementation of technology into it,” she said. “So that’s my priority, is to build that rock solid curriculum and offering more opportunities to our students at the high school level so that when they graduate they have more opportunities into being successful.”

Santana Jr., 44, is from Pharr and works as a teacher at the district, and pointed to that experience and his bond with students as qualifications for serving on the board.

“I think I’m the most qualified for this position because I’m interacting and engaged five days a week, eight hours a day with my students, so that’s something a candidate should have,” he said.

If elected, Santana said he would prioritize strengthening education for district students, particularly through physical educational tools for students at lower grade levels.

“If we build a good foundation — it’s like making a house — if you build a strong foundation from the bottom, that kid’s going to have an excellent foundation in the upper levels, so that’s what I’m going to do for them,” he said.