Florencio Zepeda, Jr. | Federal Programs Executive Director | Academica Southwest
How did you get your start in school business?
As a child my parents always stressed the importance of a formal education. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a minor in English, and my master’s degree in Public Administration, I could still hear my parents’ educational message. I began my school business journey in the late 1990's and I still, to this day continue to be an advocate to budgeting at the lowest level, function 11. This is where funds come closest to student spending.
What do you like best about your job and where you work?
I am lucky to wake up every morning and look forward to coming in to work. During these difficult times of COVID-19 and distance learning, it is important to keep focus on our most important reason we joined the field of education; students learning and teachers teaching. Academica Southwest provides guidance and recommendations to our Charter School: Brooks Academies of Texas. We were founded in 1997 and we operate in 71 high-performing schools in Texas (San Antonio), Arizona, Florida (Broward, Duval, Jefferson, Miami-Dade, Monroe, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie County), and Nevada (Las Vegas). We currently serve over 33,000 students from PK through 12th grade. Here in Texas we serve over 3,300 students. Their success reflects our focus and dedication. Keeping a balanced budget, being fiscally transparent, working with bright leaders is what I enjoy the most. Academica Southwest is an awesome educational organization. I am lucky to be working and supporting Brooks Academies of Texas here in San Antonio.
Why do you recommend TASBO to your colleagues? What programs and services do you find useful?
TASBO has always been the educational organization that every educational staff member looks to for advice. They have been here during both, good and some difficult times. When our legislatures decide to cut our education funding, TASBO was right here by our side. During today’s COVID-19 challenge, TASBO is right here ready to answer and/or provide advice on challenging tasks. I cannot ask for a better friend (TASBO) to be next to me when questions or concerns flair up. TASBO’s mentoring program and committee meetings are priceless. We bounce ideas amongst members that are focused and experienced in many educational levels. TASBO’s newest Charter School focus group is fast growing and respected.
What is your favorite TASBO training to attend and why?
Wow, where should I begin? I think TASBO training sessions and educational courses favorites change as one obtains different positions within our educational organizations. When I was a PEIMS Director, my favorite training was: Introduction to PEIMS 101. As I matured, it was PEIMS, Payroll and Personnel. As an Executive Business Director, Budgeting, Accounting, and Revenue Forecasting are awesome. The reason for them being my favorite: Learning.
What was your childhood dream job?
I never had a childhood dream job. Being a migrant farm worker, we spoke about being successful. A dream job did not come to mind. I simply wanted to make my parents, brothers, and sisters proud of what we as a family could accomplish.
What book could you read over and over again?
My favorite author is Victor Villasenor. Rain of Goldis my favorite book. My friend ex-superintendent Dr. Encarnacion Garza, introduced me to this author. Within a couple of months, I had read all his writings. Dr. Encarnacion Garza is currently a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio. We still keep in contact.
Tell us a fun fact (or two!) about yourself:
I am known to be a very simple person. Life is only complicated if you decide to make it. I learned this from my mother. The funds that our school districts, Charter Schools, and districts of innovation receive belong to our STUDENTS. Budget your funds where they will have the most positive impact of student learning.
What's one thing you're excited about/looking forward to in the future?
If you have your certification or are currently working towards one, tell us what it means to you to be TASBO certified?
My CTSBO certificate is a huge accomplishment. It is what we do with this certificate that makes it mean something. I have been able to mentor new Business Managers in Texas and have also had the honor of mentoring a new Business Manager in Akron, Ohio, through ASBO International.
Anything else you would like to include?
Challenging times open our imagination. Academica Southwest has developed Colegia, an educational portal that facilitates virtual learning. The leadership team and all the educational staff are eagerly waiting to implement this new portal.