James Lamonica, EPISD Board of Trustee District 5 candidate
Name: James Lamonica
Office Sought: EPISD Board of Trustee for District 5
Occupation: Retired educator and educational administrator
Education: BA in Social Studies with a teaching certificate from Eastern Illinois University
Masters in Educational Administration from UTEP
Family: Married for 32 years to Mary Jean Olmstead a retired Math teacher who last worked at Irvin High School. She is currently a math tutor at Chapin High School. Three Children, Megan, a teacher at Charles Middle School, Regina, a math tutor at Chapin and a student at UTEP, and Anthony, a fireman in the United States Air Force.
Number one campaign focus: Taking the District in a new direction toward a rigorous, quality, education in a safe and comfortable environment for all students by supporting quality teaching in the classroom and monitoring what goes on in the District.
What set you apart from your opponents? I have 28 years of experience in EPISD as a Teacher, Assistant Principal, and Principal in all three areas of the District. I have worked with students in all socio-economic conditions, in all grade levels, and in all academic levels. I know the District, I know what needs to be done, and I know the questions to ask to ensure it is done right.
Relevant experience that qualifies you for the position you seek: I have 28 years of experience in EPISD as a Teacher, Assistant Principal, and Principal in all three areas of the District. I have worked with students in all socio-economic conditions, in all grade levels, and in all academic levels.
If you had the opportunity to revoke one action taken by the EPISD Board of Trustees immediately upon taking office, which would it be? I would, and hope to, revoke the policy of negotiating salaries with Central Office Administrators and providing bonuses for reaching testing goals. Except for the Superintendent, our District needs to set fixed salaries for positions based on the value and responsibilities of the position. No one, including the Superintendent, should receive bonuses.
Describe a moment that changed your life: When I was a very young man, I helped coach the Middle School track team of my local Catholic school. It was the last track meet of the year and my team was leading. The last event was the four by one hundred relay and we had the fastest team. The boys on the relay team came up to me and asked to change one of their members. They explained that one of the boys had gone all year without winning a ribbon. They thought they could still place even with him on the relay. I agreed and not only did they place, they won. That was the day I was sure I wanted to be a teacher.
In what ways is the El Paso Independent School District on the right track and in what ways does it need to change course? Despite all that has happened, the District is on the right course because teachers and staff on the campuses have continued to provide rigorous, quality, instruction in the classrooms. It was not the teachers who cheated, it was administrators beginning at the top. Where we are on the wrong track is that, despite the current scandal, there are still people who believe there are short cuts. We cannot teach the test or provide quick Saturday programs to earn credits. We need to get students into class with quality instruction on the TEKS.
If elected, how will you balance the needs of family, your career, and your office? My wife and I are both retired and we decided that my being elected to the Board would be our way of continuing to support education. My children are grown and starting families of their own. All three of them support me in what I am doing. My family will always come first but I will have a great deal of time to devote to my responsibilities on the Board.
When did you come to El Paso? My wife and I moved to El Paso from Chicago in the summer of 1983. We have lived in the Northeast part of the City for almost 30 years.
I have a Facebook group called, Lamonica for Trustee and I can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org