MERCEDES : Superintendent Dr. Daniel Trevino

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LATINO ED: What is your vision for your school district?
DR. TREVINO: My vision for the school district is to continue to deliver a quality education in the 21st Century. Our goals also include that all graduates from Mercedes Schools are college ready or obtain a license – medical assistant, cosmetology, welder, or computer technologist – or certificate. Mercedes Schools have caring teachers and the district will continue to serve all populations.

LATINO ED: What inspires, motivates, and drives you? What are you most passionate about?
DR. TREVINO: My motivation is driven by success. The inspiration that I hold is seeing children that did not have a chance in our society – for whatever reason – become independent of others. There is no better feeling as an educator than being thanked by a graduating senior. To me, motivation is about the students that we have molded into committed adults. That is what drives me as an educational leader. My passion is leading this district during these demanding times. Michael Fullan, the great change agent, discussed organizational change and relationships that make a difference. I share those passions in the district. I continue to be a life – long learner with all stakeholders in mind when it comes to change versus outcomes.
LATINO ED: What is your perspective on the recent changes enacted by the Texas Legislature in the form of House Bill 5 and what impact will these changes have in your district?
DR. TREVINO: The most recent Texas Legislative Session had many changes that influenced Texas public schools. One piece of legislation that had a tremendous impact was House Bill 5 (HB5). The components of HB5 effect not only degree plans, but also state assessment requirements.

With the new legislation, students have to take less core area classes during their high school years. That process will enable students that are geared towards a post – secondary education to focus on the disciplined areas at hand. Those students that have a career pathway will receive more training and focus on those subjects. Secondly, HB5 reduces the number of assessments that a student must take during the four years of high school.

That number changed from fifteen to five. I believe that in some instances, marginal teachers may become less accountable for their instructional measures because of the untested areas. This behavior will have to be heavily monitored by the site administrators. However, if analyzed accordingly, the student will be under less stress and more focused on direct instruction.
LATINO ED: Have there been cuts to your district’s state funding in recent years? If so, what impact are theses cuts having on your district?
DR. TREVINO: In 2011, MISD lost about $2.0 million in state funding. That was due to the landmark state budget cuts of that legislative session. Here recently, the USDE [U.S. Department of Education]has cut about fifteen percent of federal dollars from the planning amounts. Public school finance will always have an influence on public schools in Texas, and MISD is not immune to that principle. Through the years, the Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA) formula used for funding public schools in Texas – has perhaps suffered some inequities. Student populations continue to grow in our district, but weighted dollars per student have remained the same for several years. MISD has adapted to budget cuts and fiduciary situations. The district continues to deliver a quality education and the classroom numbers are compliant to state standards.

LATINO ED: What, in your opinion, are your school district’s greatest assets? What is unique about your district that sets it apart from others in the Rio Grande Valley?
DR. TREVINO: The greatest asset of MISD is that the district prides in delivering a quality education to all populations. MISD also has some of the highest graduation rates of students that complete their high school programs with associates degrees or college credit hours. The MISD culture continues to strive even with the district’s challenging demographics – high population of economic disadvantaged students, high bilingual populations, and a sluggish economic environment. Even, with all those challenges, Mercedes ISD serves to remain a top district in the Valley. The district continues to serve an attraction to many families across the area. MISD does not have an open – enrollment policy, but some families drive from as far as Mission & Harlingen to bring their children to our schools. Because of that, MISD is one of the very few districts in the Rio Grande Valley still experiencing a student population growth. Our philosophy will remain that we will educate all populations and offer a 21st Century Education.

LATINO ED: Charter schools appear to be spreading throughout the region. What impact are those schools having on your school district, if any?
DR. TREVINO: Charter schools were implemented to give parents school choice. Those institutions tremendously hinder public schools in Texas. Most public schools in the state are extremely successful; very few are identified as failing. However, the state has approved charter schools, so that parents may choose to enroll their children elsewhere. Like any other public school in Texas, Mercedes Schools are competing with local charter schools. Whenever public school students leave to a charter, those students take their funding with them, hence influencing local school funding. MISD will attract students from across the region, and the district successfully retains most of its student population.

LATINO ED: What would you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a superintendent?
DR. TREVINO: I have successfully served as the Mercedes ISD Superintendent for about four years. Prior to my arrival on August 2010, MISD had six superintendents within a six year period. I hold my tenure as a huge success. I am a graduate of Mercedes High School, and hold a doctorate from the Texas A&M System, which I also consider a tremendous accomplishment. It is great to be a product of the organization I presently lead. Another prestigious accomplishment that I hold very close is having been selected to the Harvard Superintendent’s Academy. Every year, Harvard selects fifty school superintendents from across the country, and in the Spring of 2013, I was selected to enter into that academy. It was a great honor to represent Mercedes ISD in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the capacity as the district’s superintendent. One of my most recent accomplishments also included having been nominated for the Region One Superintendent of the Year Award. In four years I have been here, the district has endured many successes, and I hope that we continue to strive towards that excellence.

LATINO ED: What are your biggest worries as a superintendent?
DR. TREVINO: There are many challenges and worries in the superintendency. The title of my dissertation was A Mixed – Methods Analysis of Current Challenges of The Public School Superintendency In South Texas. The study encompassed many obstacles – worries – in the position. Having been in the business this long, I certainly agree that the position is a huge responsibility. The funding sources are depleting every year, and it is becoming more difficult to operate the district as well as to keep the budgets balanced. The unfunded mandates are increasing every year and MISD handles those obstacles as efficiently as possible. The most critical issue, however, that keeps me worried as a superintendent is the safety and security of the students and staff of our district. We live in an area that is close to the border and at times, violence crosses into our schools. MISD Administration constantly monitors all our buildings, but no one really knows what will happen next or when a violent incident will take place. I oversee 1,000 employees, about 6,000 students, and 42 buses. We know that anything can happen at any given time. The district prepares often and the Crisis Management Teams are on call regularly, but nobody knows where or when the emergency will take place. I struggle with this every day. I leave everything in the Lord’s hands and pursue my leadership with great humility.

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