Post endorses: For PBC School Board Ayala for a fresh spark

By The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board
Posted at 2:03 PM

Post endorsement in the Aug. 18 election for Palm Beach County School Board.

The task facing public education can seem impossibly hard: Educating the nation’s young to be productive contributors to society and responsible citizens of our self-governing republic.

It’s a task that grows ever more complicated, given changes in technology, shifts in demographics and proliferating choices of programs. And then come the unexpected jolts. Two years ago, the overriding concern was mass shootings. Today, it’s the coronavirus that has emptied school buildings since March, the most severe disruption in memory.

It takes great dedication to join the seven-member Palm Beach County School Board that assumes responsibility for all this in the nation’s 10th largest school district.

Two incumbent members are seeking re-election in the Aug. 18 election. A newcomer will occupy a third seat, which is being vacated by term-limited Vice Chair Chuck Shaw.

A more difficult choice presents itself in District 2, in the central part of the county, where two women with long lists of civic involvements are looking to fill Shaw’s big shoes.

Virginia Savietto, 46, is Palm Beach County Commissioner Gregg Weiss’ administrative aide. On a questionnaire from the Editorial Board, she lists no fewer than 18 civic activities, from board membership on the School District Advisory Boundary Committee to heading a drive to ensure that Hispanics fill out the U.S. Census.

At age 27, her opponent Alexandria Ayala has crammed in nearly as many involvements, from Leadership Palm Beach County to Florida Young Democrats, where she was a vice president and political director. Formerly a senior executive secretary for the Florida House of Representatives, Ayala is now a legislative aide for the Board of County Commissioners.

Both women came to Palm Beach County at young ages from Spanish-speaking lands: Argentina (Savietto) and Puerto Rico (Ayala). Both are products of Palm Beach County schools: Lake Worth High School (Savietto) and John I. Leonard High (Ayala). Both place a high priority on closing the disparity gaps for Hispanic and other minority children.

But when asked about their campaign issues on an Editorial Board questionnaire, Savietto gave a generic list, starting with “Guaranteeing all children receive a quality education,” and “Ensuring adequate school safety.” Ayala, however, emphasized what Savietto did not mention: “Ensuring a safe return during COVID-19, including efficiently using new technology…”

That was the more pertinent answer. And it seems typical of Ayala, who interviews as someone with unusual energy, passion, self-confidence — and the agility to think quickly and creatively about fast-changing conditions.

Ayala said she would be the rare board member who makes herself visible around the community and that she would ratchet up the fight against racism.

The School Board currently has no one of Ayala’s generation in its ranks. She would be a refreshing addition. She’d bring an easy familiarity with technology. And being only about a decade older than this year’s high school graduates, she would be uniquely attuned to student attitudes and needs.

Voters should give the preternaturally impressive Ayala their nod.

Read the full editorial here: https://www.palmbeachpost.com/opinion/20200728/post-endorses-for-pbc-school-board-mcquinn-barbieri-for-experience-ayala-for-fresh-spark