Advocate Editorial Board opinion: School district leaders deserve appreciation

The Victoria Independent School District has made measurable improvements in the past few years. Building new schools, hiring a superintendent with a reputation for transformation and starting seven community focus groups are just a few of the steps the district has taken in its push for excellence in education.

The district's mission is to "provide rigorous, relevant learning and life experiences so that all students contribute positively to society." But it is impossible to provide quality education without effective, vision-minded leadership. From the classroom to the superintendent, the district needs strong, confident leaders to keep pushing the envelope in public education.

Strong leadership starts at the top, which is exactly what we have in Victoria in the VISD Board of Trustees. These are seven members of the community, elected by the community, to take the lead in Victoria's public education system and make the tough decisions necessary to keep the district operating and moving forward. Each member serves a three-year term representing a portion of the district. Unlike city council members, school board trustees do not receive compensation for their service. This is purely a volunteer position and we appreciate the dedication each of these leaders shows by giving freely of their time in what often feels like a thankless job to serve the community through education.

January is School Board Recognition Month across the state of Texas, and we encourage members of the community to take part in the effort to honor the people who volunteer their time to keep our district moving forward year after year. According to Diane Boyett, district communications director, the board will be honored at the next meeting Jan. 17. Students have written cards thanking the board members. Businesses across Victoria are encouraged to post signs thanking the board for their service to education. Some businesses that do not have marquees sent in letters, and one business bought an ad space on one of the electronic billboards in town.

We are glad to see our community coming forward to support and applaud the board of trustees, and we want to add our voices to the chorus of praise. So we say thank you to each of the seven board members: Tami Keeling, president, who started in 2005; Bernard Klimist, vice-president, who started in 2003; Estella De Los Santos, secretary, who started in 2004; Ross Mansker, who started in 2009; Kevin VanHook, who was appointed after the death of James Murphy in 2010 and elected in 2011; L.J. 'Lou' Svetlik, who started in 2002; and Michael DiSanto, who started in 2010.

Thank you for your years of service to promote education in Victoria. There were times when tough decisions had to be made and some do not always agree on action taken or even the views of individual board member, but VISD is still moving forward thanks to your leadership and commitment to excellence.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.