Members of the Board of Trustees govern and oversee the school district. Trustees set the vision and goals for the district, oversee the superintendent (who they can fire and hire), and adopt the annual tax rate and operating budget. This is an unpaid, nonpartisan position. Trustees serve four-year terms. You can find EPISD trustee district boundaries by clicking HERE. Click HERE to view a personalized sample ballot.

Who’s running for this seat?

David Adams

David Adams, 53, is a general contractor.

Valerie Beals

Valerie Beals, 34, is a small business owner and homemaker.

Jacqueline Martinez

Jacqueline Martinez, 40, is a school teacher.

Josie Castro

Josie Castro Garcia, 40, is in corporate operations for AT&T.

Candidate Questionnaires

Candidates were asked to limit their responses to 100 words. Responses have been lightly edited for grammar.

What experience do you have with curriculum, overseeing budgets, or setting and analyzing policy? Please explain.

David Adams: Besides owning and running several businesses, I was also a hospital board trustee for several years and ran multimillion-dollar budgets, and hired staff, including doctors and administrators. I worked with all department heads and staff and set policies and guidelines to make a safe and happy environment. I was also on the advisory board as well as finance and building maintenance.

Valerie Beals: I spend time with people in different types of social settings in El Paso to gain a decent understanding of the areas that are most important in the budget and how to benefit students of any economic status. I have had experience in managing budgets for religious youth groups to ensure funds are spent wisely. I have children and I speak with numerous parents in the district to know the importance of good curriculum/policies and how it directly affects the children and their ability to succeed.

Jacqueline Martinez: I am a 13-year veteran teacher. Curriculum decisions based on students’ needs is a skill I utilize on a regular basis. Additionally, I have first-hand knowledge and experience with how budgets affect my students and me in the classroom. Also, I am currently a participant in an Ed Policy Fellowship Program with Texas Tech University. I would leverage my first-hand experience as a teacher and the knowledge I am gaining from my fellowship to make decisions on adopting a budget and setting policy.

Josie Castro Garcia: I worked in local county government for over eight years in the office of El Paso County Commissioner Carlos Leon. In my role as senior policy advisor, I prepared research and data necessary for implementation of policies and procedures. I analyzed eight annual operating budget cycles and staffed the commissioner through strategic planning sessions where I helped review, develop goals, and establish objectives to execute a vision for a span of years.

What are your budget priorities and how would you balance funding those priorities while keeping property taxes in check?

David Adams: I think we need to work with Congresspeople as well as talking to our state education officials to discuss receiving more state and federal funding. Applying for better grants. We need to also crack the books and look at some of the foolish spending my predecessors voted for and accepted without proper consideration for all parties. I believe we need to look at all vendors. Cheaper is not always better. We need to have a better bidding process.

Valerie Beals: I will work to ensure that taxpayer funds are spent responsibly and transparently, while keeping property tax rates as low as possible for homeowners.

Jacqueline Martinez: Currently, parents pay a significant amount in property taxes and we have a responsibility to make sure this is going to the most important and impactful strategies that focus on providing more resources to the classrooms. With careful review of the district’s budget, we can find opportunities to cut spending in areas that are not showing an impact on student learning and outcomes. We need to be looking at how what is funded impacts students.

Josie Castro Garcia: The school district budget is about half of a taxpayer’s bill. My background will help make sure we account for each dollar spent on our children’s education. We need to eliminate wasteful budgeting and poor spending practices. It is imperative for the budget to be student-focused. A top priority of mine is to conduct needs assessments whenever academic programs are implemented. I will make sure that the district makes funding decisions on programs based on metrics that provide student outcomes. 

What recommendations would you make for the district to recruit and retain quality teachers and other employees?

David Adams: Better pay, better incentives, a safe and healthy working environment. If you look, you will find. The cream always rises to the top. But also we need a 5-year and 10-year strategic plan that involves our teachers and staff. We need to be a family.

Valerie Beals: I think that our children in the El Paso Independent School District deserve the best education which means we have to have the best teachers. I care about the quality of education that our children receive and will make sure that our EPISD employees are well compensated and have the right tools and resources that they need.

Jacqueline Martinez: Fair compensation is a good start, however recruiting and retaining quality teachers goes beyond a pay raise. There are other factors that have contributed to the mass exodus of teachers such as micromanagement. I would support a policy that gives autonomy to teachers, protects their planning time, and limits paperwork requirements.

Josie Castro Garcia: EPISD passed a historic raise for teachers last year that helped the district be competitive with compensation. In addition to compensation, we must build a sense of community with employees that is filled with a positive culture, trust and transparency. This is key to retaining and recruiting teachers. District leadership must empower our employees and provide them with the resources to be difference makers. Some schools are already doing this, but we need consistency across the district. 

How would you address the district’s enrollment trends?

David Adams: We are losing the battle to charter schools. We need to stop the crying, and arguing and come together and make our district fresh and alive by being more transparent, accountable and responsible, and everything else will fall into place.

Valerie Beals: I am a big believer in traditional school settings. I know there are a lot of parents out there who are a lot like me and would like certain subjects to be left for the home. I feel that in order to keep children enrolled in public schools we need to remember that they are children and they need to have the appropriate education to move on to college.

Jacqueline Martinez: As a teacher, I’ve learned that school is not a one-size-fits-all learning experience, and I think the pandemic is forcing us to re-evaluate traditional schooling. As a school district, we need to cater to what families need. For some, that means traditional brick-and-mortar services, while for others that could be remote learning. I would support offering districtwide virtual learning services to address the enrollment decline.

Josie Castro Garcia: First, an analysis on declining enrollment is critical to understand how to approach ways of curbing the drop. The district should analyze current district assessment practices, attendance issues/pressures, and customer service. Second, the district needs to market all the wonderful programs our schools have to offer and highlight successes. If schools are lacking programs, steps to address this immediately will get our kids excited about school and bring kids back with adequate programming.

How would you respond to special interest groups or parents who want to limit access to existing curriculum or library books they perceive to be in conflict with their personal beliefs?

David Adams: We need to stop and listen; they care too. We have to come together and find a compromise or common ground. I will be happy to be on that committee.

Valerie Beals: In regards to existing curriculum or library books, the schools should monitor and limit controversial content to give parents the opportunity to teach these important facts in their home.

Jacqueline Martinez: The purpose of an education is to prepare students to be good citizens. This means access to library books and a curriculum that contains a wide variety of experiences and backgrounds. Parents have access to and can challenge books, but they should be addressed publicly and with all students in mind. I believe the process should also require that challengers first read the book cover to cover and provide citations with page numbers as to why it is inappropriate.

Josie Castro Garcia: Research tells us that curriculum and reading materials are most effective when they reflect students’ lives and experiences. Policy decisions that perpetuate discrimination and inequity have recently become an attempt to limit learning and instead we should want for children to receive a holistic learning experience rooted in accuracy. In the face of overt politicization of our education system, schools must remain a neutral place of learning for children of all backgrounds.

Aside from free breakfast/lunch programs and after-school care through partner organizations, what other resources and social services should schools offer the community to help ensure overall student success?

David Adams: More tutoring, more hands-on with children who need it. And more counseling; kids are confused more easily today.

Valerie Beals: During 2020/Covid, many of our children fell behind and would love to continue to have the tutoring options available during and or after school to help our children continue to recover from any loss of progress during this time.

Jacqueline Martinez: I would support the addition of mental health professionals to schools. Ill-equipped school counselors are not enough. They are at a disadvantage in their efforts to help students because they too are understaffed and overloaded with non-counseling duties. In fact, 98% of Texas districts did not meet the Texas Education Agency’s recommendation of one counselor per 250 students. The standard alone is both insufficient and also a disservice to students.

Josie Castro Garcia: Schools are the cornerstone of our communities. Wraparound supports should include services that help students and their families access housing, healthcare, and other social supports. Texas is not a state that requires districts to assess a school system’s ability to identify gaps in support services, so there’s a critical element of accountability for elected officials as well. For these policy areas, we can measure progress toward identifiable goals and make this data accessible to families. 

related news

Back to Voter Guide