Meridith Keller – District 4 Candidate, Incumbent

What is your motivation to become a school board member?

I am seeking re-election because there is a need for experienced leadership on the Board. Our district must improve academic achievement for all learners and we have to keep our focus on student outcomes and a healthy work environment for our employees. My seventeen-year proven track record of advocacy and commitment to our students, staff and community is unmatched and is needed to reach our goals. We will get there, together!

What particular skills or experience qualifies you to serve as a school board member?

I have dedicated the last seventeen years to the students, staff and families of Hays CISD. My lengthy list of work in the district (answered in a question above) provides me with a unique level of historical knowledge and experience. I have successfully advocated for important initiatives and attention to our areas of greatest need. I have collaborated well with my colleagues and the administrative team.

How much time will you be able to give in service as a school board member?

My work on the Hays CISD Board of Trustees is a full-time job for me. It is a position that requires a great deal of attention and preparedness. In addition to preparing for and attending the regularly scheduled meetings, I also answer emails and phone calls, attend as many campus events as possible across the district, meet with staff members, parents and community members. The families and employees of our district need to know that their board members are supporting their departments or campuses. I have made this district my priority for the last seventeen years and that level of dedication will not change.

What are the greatest challenges facing public education in Texas?

The State of Texas has not made education a priority. Here in HCISD, like most districts throughout the state, we have struggled to make up for the deficiencies in funding while having to find ways to provide for unfunded and seemingly unending legislative mandates. Some state that charter schools create competition which should breed excellence across the board. It does not. It is not a true “competition” because charter schools are not held to the same standards as true public schools. Charter schools are not subject to student/teacher ratios, they aren't held to the same standards of requiring teacher certifications, they do not have to provide teacher planning periods, they do not have to enter into employment contracts, they do not provide the same level of transportation, and, most importantly, they do not serve all kids.

What are the greatest challenges for Hays CISD?

We must improve student achievement at all levels. We have a new administration team in place and they are working to implement good educational systems. As with any big change, we must be purposeful in blending our new plans with the many great strategies our staff already uses to educate our students. Now, more than ever, we need to be inclusive with our students, staff, parents, and community in our decision-making processes.

What are your ideas to improve the future of Hays CISD? How would they help our students?

My top priority is improving student outcomes. Everything we do must tie back to this one priority. We have to ensure that our staff members have a healthy, positive work environment which results in a positive educational atmosphere. We must cultivate our relationships and engage with our parents and community members in order to build the strong support systems that promote student academic growth. We will not be deterred on our road to academic excellence!

If elected, you will represent a specific area of Hays CISD. How will you balance the needs of your specific constituents with the needs of the entire school district?

School Board Trustees do not serve constituents from specific areas but instead serve all students. This is different than other elected positions because we cannot simply advocate for certain schools or areas of the district. Our Board worked diligently with our administrative team to develop goals together for all children. We believe in the achievement of every student and that will continue to drive my focus and decision-making.

Describe YOUR view of your role on the school board and the role of the superintendent. What is the ideal relationship between you and the senior administration of Hays CISD?

The board obviously fulfills the statutory requirements set forth in the Texas Education Code. We set policy, budgets, approve procurements and contracts. We hold the responsibility of oversight and setting the goals, mission and vision. We employ and evaluate the superintendent. We are also charged with ensuring that the superintendent and administration have the tools needed to successfully educate our children and employ our staff. It is not the duty of any member of a school board to manage the day-to-day operations of the district.

Ideally, a school board’s relationship with the superintendent should be one of trust, openness and focus on our shared goals.

What do you believe should be the goal and the role of the teachers and professional organizations in the school district?

I believe that our employee organizations have the same goals that the administration and board have for our students, employees, families and community. The organizations and district can and should work together to ensure happy and healthy working conditions for all employees. If there are issues that need to be addressed, it is incumbent on the organizations to assist their members on how to best and most expediently work to problem solve. I am always interested to learn from our superintendent, who meets regularly with the associations, if they have feedback for the trustees on policy or the like.

Do you support a constitutional amendment requiring the state to pay at least 50 percent of the cost of maintaining and operating the public school system? Please explain your answer.

Both the House and the Senate filed bills that address this question. I support the state paying at least 50 percent of the cost but would need to see the wording of the amendment to know whether or not it is feasible. The amendment would most likely have to provide for a “phase in” plan because even with the amount of money that is being currently discussed in our legislature, the state would still only be at approximately 42 percent of the cost of education. I have two concerns on this matter that I hope will be addressed. The first is that the state does come through with the approximate $9B that is currently being discussed. My second concern is that our legislators do not behave as if they have “fixed public school funding” and refuse to take this matter seriously next session.

Other comments:

I welcome anyone to call me at the number provided to discuss any issue related to Hays CISD, not just for this election purpose but as a siting board member, as well.

Image of Merideth Keller

Preferred Contact Method:  email

Personal Educational background:

I have nearly 200 hours of School Board member training. My education on policy, governance, leadership, open records, budgeting, open meetings, school law, grievances, public funds, compensation, legislation, student achievement, etc. sometimes results in certifications which are readily available to any requestor.

Experience or activities with the Hays school district or a particular campus:

I am the current School Board President for Hays CISD. I have also served as the past President, Vice President, Secretary and on Board Committees such as the Board and Superintendent Student Advisory Panel and the Board Policy Committee during my nine-year tenure on the Hays CISD Board. I served on multiple Campus Leadership Teams, the District Leadership Team, many PTAs and Booster Clubs, Attendance Zone Committees, Growth Impact Committees, Calendar Committees, the State of Texas Comptroller’s Task Force representing Hays CISD, the Student Health Advisory Council and the principal hiring team. Over the years, I have mentored many at-risk secondary students, volunteered in many tutoring organizations at campuses, read to countless elementary classrooms, and judged science fairs and spelling bees across the district.

Hays CISD Board of Trustees Single-Member District 4 Map

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Hays CISD Board of Trustees Early Voting Locations 2019

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Hays CISD Board of Trustees Election Day Locations 2019

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