The incumbent for the Tuluso-Midway Board of Trustees hopes to bring his 15-years of experience on the board into another term, and see the district through some difficult times to come.
Billy Lerma is a 1976 graduate of Tuloso-Midway High School who grew up in the Annaville area. Lerma joined the U.S. Marine Corps after graduation, and served until 1982. After returning to Corpus Christi in 1984, he began getting involved with the Tuloso-Midway Athletic Booster Club, where he eventually became president.
"My philosophy is as long as my heart is for kids, I'm going to be there for kids," Lerma said of his work with students. "I'm a big believer in kids - they motivate me."
He and his wife, Delfina, have one adult daughter and two grandchildren.
In 1989, his activity in organizations around the school district got the notice of the Board of Trustees, and he was appointed to fill the unexpired term of a member who resigned to take a job in another area. Lerma served on the board until 1996. He has worked at the U.S. Postal Service for the past nine years. He was re-elected in 2002 and has served on the board continuously since that time.
"Once I got my foot in the door here, I noticed how I could help a heck of a lot more kids - by making the correct policies, by making sure that every kid gets the same education," Lerma said.
The accomplishment that brings him the most pride, Lerma said, is the recent "Exemplary" rating the high school received from the state.
"We were one of only five schools in this whole area that was exemplary," Lerma said. "It's very rare for a high school, and for us to accomplish that - that was a tremendous goal for the district."
Lerma said he was also pleased the Tax Ratification Election was approved by voters, allowing the district to re-allocate funding to needed projects.
"We needed to be able to move those funds so that we could generate more funds to use for some of the projects we have at the schools that are pending," Lerma said.
The most pressing challenge facing the district, Lerma said, is a dispute over the construction of new tennis courts in the district that are still not in playing condition.
Other priorities Lerma hopes to address over the next few years include hiring a new business manager and eventually hiring a permanent superintendent.
When asked what separates him from his opponent in the race, Ofelia Reyes, Lerma said his knowledge and understanding of the issues facing the district are the key difference.
"I think the district needs the experience right now, because of the problems we have, the litigation we have, and the different areas we're lacking. I think it's very important to have an experienced board member there," Lerma said. "I know our kids, I know our staff, I know what we need."