What motivated you to run for a seat on the school board this year?
The tag line is to #movehaysforward. We are creating an amazing district for our students and frankly the entire community. But there is still more to do - always! I want to continue the work and believe that this board is doing an excellent job of providing the resources our students need to be successful. And even though Dr. Wright is doing a fantastic job I am not afraid to hold him accountable when something needs attention. Let's keep it going!!
What particular skills or experience qualify you to serve as a school board member?
Besides being a volunteer in this district since 1999 (and graduated from Hays in 1987) I bring a skill set including understanding budgets, finance, and technology, building excellent and highly functional teams, and close to 30 years of work experience in the construction industry. That's helpful with all of the future building we're going to have to do. In my professional life I am the Vice President of Construction Technology at Dynamic Systems, Inc. who is a national leader in mechanical construction. My role has afforded me many opportunities to stretch as a leader and grow from mistakes. My team at work is made up of over 100 unique individuals who must be brought together for us to be successful. I bring that experience and skillset to the board and believe that it makes a difference.
What are the greatest challenges for Hays CISD?
I would encourage you to watch the TSTA/HEA candidate forum that was held on Tuesday 4/6. You can find it on YouTube or their FaceBook page. I discuss it there as well. Here it is: 1. Getting state funding to be predictable, equitable, and fair. We have had to scramble each budget cycle to change to new rules from the state. We have lofty goals in this district but need a clear and consistent picture for how we will be funded. I also want us to start each year with a balanced budget. We always end strong but we can start that way as well. 2. Managing our growth. We need to continue with the proactive plans that are in this years bond election. The best example is the admin building which will only be 80% occupied if the prop passes. Some may argue that it is a waste of taxpayer money to have empty offices but we know the growth is coming and we will need more people in the central office to support our students, teachers, and staff. Someday we're going to have more than 60,000 students in this district and right now we only have 21,000. Let's get ready! 3. Closing the COVID learning gap. We know it's there and we need to fund the resources our teachers need to get our students back on level as fast as possible. We don't want the 4-6 month gap that Dr. Wright has talked about to turn into a year, two years, or more and it will if we don't flat get after it to close it. We'll do it!
What are your ideas to improve the future of Hays CISD? How would they help our students?
We've done so much the past three years but there are always opportunities. One thing we have learned from being forced into virtual learning is that it has a real place at the educational table, if you will. It's not for everyone but we have had some students absolutely thrive as a virtual learner and we need to find a way to continue to support that. At the HEA forum the question was posed about our support for a Virtual Learning Academy. I am in favor of that so long as it is properly funded and staffed by teachers dedicated to it. Another lesson from the pandemic is that it is a lot of effort for a teacher to have in-person and virtual students at the same time. Our wonderful Live Oak Academy already supports a number of students that need to have flexibility in their schedule for work with many of them helping to support their families. The reality is that we have limited space at LOA so we need to find a way to get more students into a virtual program on their home campus with the same flexibility. Let's meet our students where they are.
If elected, how will you work to address disparities in our communities and areas that the district serves?
Great question because we know for a fact that not all of our schools are equal. I do believe that we have closed some gaps, but not all of them. I had a great conversation this week with Dr. Wright and we discussed how we can do this in ways that lift up our campuses that need an extra hand. I expect you'll see this year a plan forming to make this a reality. I also love the fact that we are talking about equality and not equity because with equity it's easy to say that everyone got the "same thing" but we know that not everyone and not every campus needs the same thing to be successful. I will push our board and our administration to put the right dollars to work on each campus.
What will be your budgetary priorities as a school board member?
1. Teacher Pay. We've done an admirable job with getting more money to all the Hays CISD staff but especially our teachers. However, I want us to set a goal to get teacher pay commiserate with people in the private sector with equal education and experience. How amazing would it be to never hear someone say that they chose not to go into education because of the low pay. We need to change that narrative. It will not be easy but let's start the conversation. 2. Balanced Budget. I mentioned this earlier but I would love to see us start with a balanced budget every year. We have ended every year with a surplus and even added money to the fund balance but it's always hard to explain to the community (and rightly so) that you just have to trust the process. We can do better but like I said earlier it's very hard to do with inconsistent revenue and processes from the state. 3. Get back to the effective tax rate to provide real relief to our taxpayers. We expect a 0.03 decrease in the rate this year which brings the total decrease to 0.17 over the past three years. That's great but we are all still paying more every year due to our exploding home values. Keeping a lid on the real dollars paid in property taxes would help so many families. Again (I sound like broken record) but the state has to step up and help fix this. We cannot do it alone.
COVID-19 vaccines for children under 12 years old may not be available until 2022. In light of that, do you support required mask usage by students and staff during the next school year for grade-levels in which students are not able to be vaccinated?
I believe we should continue to follow the science and the leadership of the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics. If they recommend masks then yes we should do it. We will continue to talk to our local teacher organizations to make sure that we have processes in place to protect everyone on a campus. They have been involved (through the District Leadership Team) every step of the way and our board and admin take their advice seriously.
Any other comments:
Thanks for affording the candidates an opportunity to speak and to complete this questionnaire. Feel free to reach out if you have more you'd like to discuss. Hays CISD is on the verge of being the best district in Central Texas (we'll take on the state next!) and I want to continue as an effective member of the team making it happen.
May 2021 Bond Election Information
The voter information brochure details the propositions (and projects included in them) that will be on the May ballot. The brochure includes links to learn about specific projects found in each proposition.
For more information, visit the district's bond election webpage.
How can voters contact you?
BBA, Southwest Texas, 1992. MS, Organizational Leadership, St. Edward's, 2006
What is your experience participating with the Hays school district or at a particular campus?
District level - 3 years as a board at-large trustee (1 as VP); Committees: Rezoning (several), Growth Impact, and Facility and Bond Oversight (served as first chairperson.) Campus - there have been many opportunities to serve - PTA's or PTSA's at Buda Elementary, Elm Grove, Carpenter Hill, Dahlstrom MS, and Hays HS. Band Director search committee at Hays High, 10 consecutive years with the Hays Band Boosters, Hays Athletic Boosters, plus more event planning committees than I can count (all it does is prove I'm getting older - lol.) In the community, I've been involved lately with district food drives, the Hays Clothes Closet, Project Graduation, and the hugely popular 5k's (I'm slow but I get them done!)
The election will take place in Hays CISD. Specific polling locations and times depend on the county in which the voter resides. These dates and times are listed in the election order and notice (below), and linked from this webpage and the Hays CISD interactive election map.
Hays and Travis Counties use vote centers, meaning Hays and Travis County voters may cast ballots for any election in which they are eligible at any vote center in the respective counties during the times the vote centers are operating. Caldwell County will have a specific polling location for early and election day voting.
Hays County Voting Dates and Times
These are Hays County's May 2021 Election Day Voting locations. Registered Hays County voters can vote at any of these locations.
Early Voting: April 19 — April 27, 2021
- Monday, April 19 — 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Tuesday, April 20 — Friday, April 23 — 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Saturday, April 24 — 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
- Monday, April 26 — 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
- Tuesday, April 27 — 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Election Day: Tuesday, May 1 — 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Click on the image below to see an interactive map of the Early Voting locations in Hays County. Registered voters can vote at any location.
Click on the image below to see an interactive map of the Election Day voting locations in Hays County. This is the first year that Hays County registered voters can vote at any vote location on Election Day.