‘The highest possible call’: UT-Austin student Zachary Price runs for Austin ISD School Board

William Kosinski

Since he was a young man, government junior Zachary Price has developed his political involvement by volunteering for campaigns, picketing and making phone calls. Now, he is campaigning for District 4 Trustee of the Austin Independent School District.

Price was inspired to launch his campaign after the March for Our Lives protest in Austin earlier this year. He said a lack of response from AISD board members to the student organizers to talk about school safety invigorated him to represent the needs of Austin students like him.

“That felt like such an opportunity to get students involved in the process on issues that matter to them, and (the board is) not involving students in the decision making,” Price said. 

Price graduated from Anderson High School more than two years ago, and he said his 15 years in the public education system, in addition to volunteer and leadership work with local schools, has steered his ongoing civic involvement toward education. Price, 20, said he thinks his age may weaken his credibility but can bring a fundamentally different perspective to the decision making of a board with members.

“I’m not running a school board campaign on the platform that I am 20,” said Price, a former Daily Texan copy writer and columnist. “I am running on a very specific set of platform points that are aided by the fact that I am young and have lived that experience in our schools.”

Price said if elected, he wants to increase mental health resources in schools, which he said is motivated by two recent events at his former high school.

“Last year at Anderson High School, at my alma mater, there were two attempted suicides on campus,” Price said. “Two kids jumped off the third floor of the building during the school day. That had an impact on the student body. The kids were shocked, it definitely had a depressing impact.”

Price’s other platform points include increasing awareness and prevention of sexual assault and promoting equity for students, two subjects that led Ken Zarifis to endorse him. Zarifis, president of the teacher and employee union Education Austin, said Price has the potential to bring a substantial change in leadership to the board.

“At the end of the day, all of (the board’s) decisions impact the classroom,” Zarifis said. “Who better to tell us how they impact the classrooms and the campuses than a student who has recently experienced this and has firsthand knowledge?”

Price’s friend Grace Schrobilgen, a health and society junior, said his opponent, Kristin Ashy, may benefit from more campaign resources but cannot match Price’s sincerity.

“In terms of funding and time, I think he’s definitely the underdog,” Schrobilgen said. “But in terms of charisma and heart and care, he has that in his veins.”

Price said community engagement is central to not only his campaign but his lifelong goals as a public servant. For now, he said he is ecstatic to have the opportunity of helping students from his city.

“To be at one of those levels of government where I can have a direct day-to-day impact on students in public education is incredibly powerful to me, and I think that is the highest possible call,” Price said.