Wednesday, September 19, 2018
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20180430 VidaurriSigningNearly eight years since she left the district, Maria “Mimi” Vidaurri is officially coming back to Sharyland as its new superintendent.

Last month, the Premont native was selected by the Sharyland Board of Trustees as the lone finalist for the district superintendent position and during Monday’s meeting, Vidaurri’s hiring was unanimously approved.

“It feels like I came home, it’s such a privilege and honor to be serving such an incredible community,” Vidaurri said. “I can’t wait to be a part of that.”

To welcome her to the district, the school board gifted Vidaurri with a popcorn maker cart decorated with the Sharyland ISD logo.

“We heard you liked popcorn,” school board President Julio Cerda told Vidaurri as he presented the cart to her.

Vidaurri has 33 years of experience in education and has worked at the independent school districts for the cities of Alice, Hidalgo ISD, La Feria and even served Sharyland as the district’s federal programs director from 2008 through 2010. She has spent the last five years as superintendent of Robstown ISD near Corpus Christi.

Current Sharyland Superintendent Robert O’Connor, who announced last December he is leaving the district due to health reasons, praised Vidaurri’s experience during Monday’s meeting.

“She’s an amazing person and was named superintendent of the year,” O’Connor said. “She has done great things as a superintendent at Robstown so I think she’s a great leader to take the district forward. I am graciously exiting, but I know the district is in great hands.”

Vidaurri was one of 42 applicants who applied for the position. She begins working for the district May 28 and will start shadowing O’Connor two days out of the week starting this month to ease the transition process, she said.

While salary information for Vidaurri’s new position wasn’t immediately available, the Texas Education Agency website states O’Connor had a base pay of $250,608 during the 2016-2017 school year. Vidaurri, meanwhile, had a base pay of $160,000 for the same school year.

To start off her new job, Vidaurri said she plans to meet with the heads of every department in the district to address their needs.

“I stand committed to serving the community and the wonderful students at Sharyland ISD to continue to provide excellent educational opportunities for our students,” she said. “We want to make sure we continue moving the district forward like Dr. O’Connor has done and take it from there.”

In other business, the school board approved raising the price of student meals for elementary and high school students by fifty cents. At the next school year, elementary school students will pay $3 for lunch and high school students will pay $3.50.

“It’s not something the board wishes to do but it is required of us to stay compliant with the Texas Department of Agriculture,” O’Connor said.

As explained at a board workshop held last month, the district needs to raise their meal prices in order to remain compliant with the Texas Department of Agriculture who reimburses the district for the free lunches students receive.

TDA requires that the pricing of student meals reflect the equity of federal reimbursement the district receives.

“This will not affect students who have free or reduced lunches,” Cynthia Sanchez, the district’s child nutrition director said, adding that the meal price will only affect students whose household income exempts them from qualifying for free and reduced lunches. “With this increase, we will be in compliance with the pricing the state agency requires.”

The school board also approved naming the Pioneer High School Football Stadium after board member Noe Oliveira.

Oliveira has served on the school board for 14 years, making him the current board member who has served the longest and was president of the school board on three separate occasions.

During this time, he has served as a charter member for the Sharyland Education Foundation and has volunteered as the district’s team doctor for nearly 20 years, board member Noel O. Garza said Wednesday.

A ceremony for the naming of Dr. Noe Oliveira Stadium is being planned for later this year.

“He’s a man of great character, one of utmost integrity and passion for our students and has never done it for recognition,” board member Ricky Longoria said. “He’s a great family man who’s never asked for anything.”

The naming came despite protests from Oton J. “Tony” Guerrero, a candidate for the Sharyland school board of trustees Place 4. Guerrero argued during public comments that naming district buildings after sitting board members would set a dangerous precedent.

“As a board member, you do not seek a place on the board so that you can be rewarded by having a building, football field, or project area named after yourself or any member of your extended family,” he told the board. “You sit on this board to serve the students, the administration, teachers and employees of the district....You as a board are here for them, they are not here for you.”

Guerrero then recommended a list of local “heroes” in the district that he felt were deserving of having a stadium named after them such as coach Marcelino de la Fuente, Jim Jarret, Pat and Virginia Townsend and Kika de la Garza.

The board approved the naming of the stadium 6-0, with Oliveira abstaining.