Candidate Q&A – Katy Armstrong – Hays CISD Board of Trustees At-Large

What is your educational background?

I have a Master's in Education through Texas State University with certifications in ESL and Special Education. I also have a degree in International Studies with a minor in Public Relations.

What is your experience participating with the Hays school district or at a particular campus?

This is the first year my kids have attended school in Hays CISD so I have not had as much time to get involved yet. However, I have helped crowdsource snacks when Fuentes’s Backpack Buddies program was low, volunteered to prepare materials for teachers, organized the Valentine’s Day party for my son’s class because his teacher quit, and worked as a course volunteer for two elementary schools’ 5k runs. As a member of my local Buy Nothing group, I have also provided countless materials to teachers who requested items through our platform. In a more public setting, I openly campaigned for Representative Erin Zweiner who is a strong supporter of public education and endorsed by TSTA.

What is your motivation to become a school board member?

I am running for the position of Trustee At-Large in order to make a bigger difference in my community. I want to be a sympathetic ear for fellow parents and a builder of relationships across the district. As the owner of my own home-based preschool, I have been able to connect with other parents living in this district at the most critical time of their children's learning. Families have trusted me to guide their young children for the past 3 years. Now I am asking for your vote so I can do the same for you.

What will you do to fight the epidemic of fentanyl in HCISD?

We need all hands on deck. I applaud Dr. Wright for speaking in DC about our crisis and the great things the Forever 15 Project has done in our district. I’ve already reached out to its founder and the parent of a child lost to fentanyl to learn more about what is being done. We also need to address the underlying issues that are causing kids to self medicate. Kids are taking pills at home because they need mental health help and they think that this will be the answer. Instead, we need open communication between kids, their families, and school counselors. We also need to maintain partnerships between the district and the local police departments to keep informed of what’s being done to eliminate drug distributors.

What is your plan for reducing the threat of gun violence in our schools?

Once again, mental health needs to be addressed. Kids who are hurting, hurt kids. Creating a district-wide campaign of not only anti-bullying but pro kindness will build stronger connections between peers and staff as we seek to reduce in-house violence. When it comes to outside intruders, campuses need to have one entrance with multiple checkpoints to ensure any threat is stalled.

Please explain your stance on book bans happening in public schools across Texas.

My mom worked in a library so I have always been surrounded by free access to books. I want all students to have access to a wide variety of reading materials. School librarians are experts at selecting age-appropriate literature for their students and I trust their judgment. I don’t think an individual or small group of parents should make decisions for an entire school/district just because they don’t want their own children to read a particular book.

Describe how you will make sure diverse voices from the LGBTQIA+, economically disadvantaged, and culturally diverse communities will be heard and supported in the district?

I am a strong ally who has lived in 4 other countries and traveled to many more. Diversity is something I embrace. I want to lift up marginalized voices whenever possible through school and district events and by encouraging active participation in the district. Every member is valued, regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, identity, or cultural background.

If elected, how will you work to address the disproportionately high concentration of economically disadvantaged and minority students in some areas that the district serves?  

It’s important to me that school funds are distributed equitably across the district. For schools with a higher concentration of economically disadvantaged students, more funds will be required to address their basic needs first and then their academic ones. As the district grows, we will need to add more schools. It’s important that we pay attention to where the growth is happening while also maintaining the schools that already exist.

How should Hays CISD approach the new "outcomes based" school rating system that emphasizes job preparation and is this a fair metric to use in evaluating Texas schools?

Being driven by specific outcomes only is a huge disadvantage to a well-rounded, complete education. The purpose of education should be to encourage creative thinking and critical problem solving. While having specific goals and expected outcomes have their place, it doesn’t really evaluate the whole child and holding teachers accountable when their students fail is unrealistic. Hays CISD needs to make sure they don’t lose focus of what a holistic education should look like.

How can the Board of Trustees help address the limited financial support schools are getting from the state to recruit and retain school professionals?

It’s a tragedy that the State is holding public education hostage in order to push through their voucher scams. I love educators and sympathize with what they go through. We need to pay them what they’re worth and be an employee-friendly district. Cost of living and the cost of time are two areas that cause massive burnout for our educators, paraprofessionals, and counselors. Any way we can alleviate these areas will be crucial to retaining and attracting quality professionals. Ask teachers what they need. Support them. Make them feel valued and they will return. If specific examples are needed, the school where I student taught offered workouts and yoga 4 days a week after school. We didn’t have to travel anywhere, we bonded, and we worked out the stresses of the day. We also had great administrative support. More than once, our Assistant Principal subbed in Life Skills because we were so short-staffed. She also regularly asked what we actually needed to be the best we could be. Showing that our educators ae valued will keep the ones we have while recruiting more as our district grows.

Are there other issues or ideas you have to improve the future of Hays CISD and help our students?

I have two personal projects that I would like to work on when elected. One of these is to expand funding for our preschool program. Not every campus has a preschool which means some students are bussed to their home school, then to another school where they attend preschool. Students who attend a quality preschool program have been proven to have more successful outcomes than those who don’t.

I also want to address the bullying crisis that too many students are facing. Having enough counselors to address the individual needs of our students will do wonders for the mental health of not only those who are bullied but the bullies themselves. Not only do we need to combat bullying, we need to encourage tolerance and kindness. I tell my preschoolers that you don’t have to like everyone but you do need to be kind.


katy endorsed

At-Large Trustees can be voted on for the entire Hays CISD voting district.

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