PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

April 4, 2014

Avendano files to run for seat on school board

Erinn Callahan
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — When Efrain Avendano moved to Port Arthur, the plan was to stay only six weeks.

Sixteen years later, the 43-year-old litigation support consultant is still there, and he is running for a position on the Port Arthur Independent School District board of trustees.

“I am running because things need to be fixed,” Avendano said.

As the son of a Methodist minister, Avendano had a nomadic upbringing. After graduating from Austin High School in El Paso, he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Texas at Brownsville and then attended seminary at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Avendano has built up a resume of community involvement since moving to Port Arthur in 1998. He is a volunteer firefighter with Jefferson County Water District No. 10, serving as the department’s public information officer and chaplain. He is a member of Rotary International, and holds a seat on the board of directors at the Gulf Coast Health Center and the Texas Artists Museum.

“I have a passion for what’s going on in Port Arthur,” Avendano said.

He said it is that passion, and not aspirations of fame or fortune, that led him to seek a position on the PAISD school board. He chose to run because he saw a need for change in a district burdened by problems with discipline and low test scores.

“We have kids that are suffering and failing in college because they’re ill prepared,” Avendano said. “That is an issue that needs to be addressed.”

But education is about more than passing scrutiny on standardized tests, Avendano said. It is about reaching today’s children and preparing them for any challenge they may face, both in and out of school.

“Everybody’s worried about the test scores,” Avendano said. “I say if we start giving the kids the education they need, then we won’t have to be worried about the test scores.”

If elected, Avendano said he will lend a listening ear to the community and give voice to their concerns rather than playing politics.

“If you want a bureaucrat or a politician, vote for someone else,” Avendano said. “But if you want somebody that’s actually going to hear you out, vote for me. When no one else will listen, I will.”

Email: ecallahan@panews.com

Twitter: @ErinnPA