Candidate Q&A – Courtney Runkle – Hays CISD Board of Trustees District 3

What is your educational background?

While I started college, it was not the right fit for me. I recognize that college is not for all students in our district either, which is why I have proudly supported our CTE programs in Hays CISD. Professionally, I work as the Business Manager for a law firm, overseeing attorneys, paralegals, and other legal staff. My experience managing a team and handling complex responsibilities have equipped me with valuable skills. My extensive involvement in the community, my professional expertise, and my dedication to education make me an asset to the Hays CISD school board.

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

I am a dedicated trustee, elected by District 3 voters in 2021, and a Hays County resident for nearly 20 years. I have developed a strong connection to the district and its residents.

I am a proud mom to two Hays CISD students. For the past 15 years, I have volunteered in various capacities, including multiple school PTAs, Campus and District Leadership Teams, Booster Clubs, Zoning Committees, Facilities and Bond Oversight Committee, and the Hays CISD Education Foundation. I am also the current Secretary of the Hays CISD Board of Trustees.

What is your motivation to become a school board member?

Our students, employees, families, and taxpayers continue to be my motivation and why I am running for re-election.  To keep our upward trajectory, we need strong advocates on the board. Over the past three years, I have been a relentless advocate for students, educators, staff, families, and the community, and our district needs this continuity and strength in leadership. The next three years will be pivotal for our district and public education as a whole. Our district needs strong advocates to combat the growth and funding challenges ahead. My heart is in it for all the right reasons, and I look forward to the great work we can all continue together.

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

Hays CISD continues to lead the pack in educating our students and community on the effects of fentanyl. While other districts have stayed silent, our Board and district have worked tirelessly to educate our community and equip campuses with the resources they need, including Narcan. We have partnered with local law enforcement and the Forever 15 Project and provided many other educational opportunities on our campuses. We also charged our Student Advisory Panel with providing their perspective to reach more students. Our Communications Team recently won the highest award in the state for this campaign, and our superintendent was invited to Washington, DC, to testify before Congress about our efforts and what resources are needed. Having lost my own brother to this poison and seven students in Hays CISD, I will never stop fighting the war on fentanyl that is affecting our community, our state, and our nation.

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

I am an advocate for common sense gun laws and will continue to advocate for that at the state and federal level. However, we must address mental health. Advocating for additional mental health resources is not only essential but imperative in saving our youth. Our district has approved funding to hire additional Student Resource Officers, but staff shortages continue to be a challenge. I was also a strong supporter of elevating Jeri Skrocki to a Cabinet-level position in our district and providing her with additional safety & security resources.

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

I firmly advocate for nurturing a love for reading among our students while ensuring they have access to age-appropriate materials. While I oppose book banning, it's essential to maintain vigilance in aligning literature with students' maturity levels. This is similar to how we prioritize online safety by restricting access to inappropriate websites and monitoring internet activity. My priority is creating a safe and empowering learning environment where students can explore the world around them while developing critical thinking skills.

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.

As a trustee, I am deeply committed to ensuring that all students in Hays CISD feel valued, respected, and supported, regardless of their background or identity. This includes actively listening to and amplifying the voices of diverse and underrepresented communities.

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?  

While it's crucial to acknowledge the challenges faced by economically disadvantaged and minority students, I believe it's equally important to address the systemic issues that perpetuate these disparities. Rather than focusing solely on "fixing" these areas, I support a district-wide approach that includes meeting students where they are, addressing each campus's unique needs, and providing opportunities for all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background. It’s also important to note that campuses with large numbers of economically disadvantaged students receive additional funding to address disparities.

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

As a Trustee, one of our most important goals is to ensure our students graduate ready for a career, college, the military, and life. While job preparation is vital, education encompasses much more, including critical thinking, creativity, and emotional intelligence. Advanced Placement (AP) classes, dual credit programs, and career and technology courses are essential for preparing students for post-graduation success. These opportunities provide valuable skills and experiences, empowering students to explore interests and reach their potential. I welcome this metric as one way to evaluate schools, but it cannot be the only metric. Evaluation should also include academic achievement and student growth. Metrics must be equitable, avoiding disadvantages for schools serving economically disadvantaged or minority students.

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

Addressing limited financial support for recruiting and retaining school professionals amidst budget deficits requires strategic prioritization. As a Trustee, I will continue to advocate for increases in the basic allotment, which hasn’t been updated since 2019. I will also explore innovative cost-saving measures and collaborate with community stakeholders to prioritize resources where they're most needed. Additionally, offering competitive compensation packages can help attract and retain top talent despite financial challenges.

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

Expanding mental health resources for our students is a critical priority in ensuring their overall well-being and academic success. As a trustee, I am committed to advocating for increased funding and partnerships to bolster our mental health support services, including counseling programs, peer support groups like PALS, the 100% Hays initiative, SEL programs, and access to licensed professionals. By prioritizing mental health, we can create a more supportive and nurturing environment for our students to thrive.


Headshot-Web Res Runkle

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