April 2015

Melva Cárdenas retires after more than five years at TASPA

Texas Association of School Personnel Administrators (TASPA) Executive Director Melva Cárdenas has announced her 
Cárdenas
retirement effective June 30, 2015. Her career includes time worked as a teacher, principal, and HR director in Midland ISD and Round Rock ISD. She retired from public schools in 2008. She then went to work as the director of educator certification at the Texas Education Agency (TEA) until 2010. She’s been TASPA’s executive director since leaving TEA.
 
Cárdenas is especially proud of the work done to improve communication with members during her tenure. The association sends weekly e-mails to keep members informed about news that affects them, posts news on its Website, and serves as a resource when members call with questions.
 
She is also proud that the association has been able to attract new members. There were about 650 TASPA members when she joined the organization. Member numbers peaked in 2014 at 965.
 
Other accomplishments during her tenure include advocacy and communication with members during legislative sessions. TASPA doesn’t lobby legislators but does track and respond to bills that would have an impact on school HR administrators and their ability to do their jobs. TASPA also informs members when new TEA rules and requirements are enacted and has bolstered the association’s relationship with TEA to ensure that HR administrators are represented on various stakeholder committees.
 
The association has been able to offer more professional development opportunities for school HR administrators, increasing both the training topics and expanding the number of locations.
 
TASB HR Services Director Cindy Clegg notes that TASPA has benefitted across the board from Cárdenas’ leadership. “I have worked with Melva for more than 30 years and have tremendous respect for her wisdom, professionalism, and inclusive style. She will be a huge loss to the HR family. The partnership between TASB and TASPA has grown stronger because of her and we will work to continue that with her successor,” Clegg said.

Keeping up with HR, Cárdenas

Cárdenas noted that in her time in education, the job of HR administrator has evolved from a focus on recruiting, hiring, and retention to much more than that. “We wear many different hats. Depending on the size of the district, an HR administrator is involved with benefits, compensation, No Child Left Behind, and sometimes wellness or risk management. There are just more things to be aware of,” Cárdenas said.
 
The biggest challenge school HR administrators face in the coming years is school finance. “That’s going to be a huge issue because it will have an overriding effect on staffing. We went through a lot of staffing cuts a few years ago when [the Legislature] cut the budget,” Cárdenas noted, adding that those cuts may be making it harder to find teachers now, particularly in shortage areas. “More and more people seem to be going into other professions, and that’s not good for education,” Cárdenas said.
 
Cárdenas said the TASPA board will begin interviewing executive director candidates in April with the intent of hiring someone early enough to provide some overlap time.
 
So what does Cárdenas have planned for retirement? “Nothing specific. That’s kind of a good thing and kind of a scary thing. But I am hoping to continue contributing to education in some way on a part-time basis,” Cárdenas said.