STEPHENVILLE (April 22, 2018)– This interview is part of a series on the Stephenville ISD school board candidates. All interviews took place via email. In order to preserve objectivity, the interviews remain in Q and A format.
What is your opinion of the SISD bond and why do you feel that way?
Having served on the SISD Facilities Committee from the beginning, I spent months listening to and evaluating the needs and deficiencies of the district. I saw firsthand how our teachers and students deal with inadequate aging facilities, buildings that are unsecured, and a lack of educational programs. For the safety of our children, the campuses must be enclosed with safety features and fire sprinkler systems. I believe that career and technology programs and facilities are important for the future of our students, especially those students who will enter the workforce after high school. Currently, at the high school, our auditorium isn’t able to meet the needs of the student body, the fine arts departments have outgrown their spaces, our agriculture students do not have a facility that meets their needs, and our softball team travels off campus for practice and games. I fully support the SISD bond proposal that will provide safety, education, and improved facilities for our students. I am proud that over 80% of our students are involved in extracurricular activities which include FFA, band, theatre, choir, athletics, etc. and I believe that they deserve the ability to further these endeavors. Our students, teachers, and community will benefit from these improvements. We are The City of Champions and I believe we should invest in our greatest asset, our children.
What is your opinion on the tax rate set by the school board currently?
I believe the current tax rate of 1.2349 is a fair and justifiable rate. It provides for the current level of education being provided by SISD to our students. The school board has been ever mindful of its financial responsibility to the taxpayers. This was evident in 2012 when the board was able to lower the approved tax rate by 6.5 cents in regards to the Central and Chamberlain Elementary bonds. The voters approved a 12.6 cent increase to the existing tax rate and due to fiscal responsibility, the board was able to save the taxpayers’ money. I believe in keeping the tax rate as low as possible and providing for the needs of our school district.
What is the area that the school board needs to improve the most in?
After consulting with many teachers, SISD employees, and community members, I believe the area the school board needs to improve in is communication. The school board needs to know the concerns and worries of teachers, staff, and the community so appropriate actions can be addressed at the school board level. I believe that making a personal connection is important. I talk to citizens of different backgrounds and occupations every day in my profession. One learns how a decision is made and how it affects different people and their families. This is why I always listen to all sides before making a quick or rash decision that will impact many peoples’ lives.
What is the greatest issue facing Stephenville ISD?
There are several issues facing SISD and not just one. We must provide security and safety to all of our campuses within the district. This means constructing double entries for security and fire safety systems. Providing the finest education and instruction to our students to the best of our abilities is a priority of mine. We must stay current with buildings and facilities needs and maintenance. These are the greatest issues facing the school board at this time.
What is your opinion of teachers concealing and carrying on campus?
Teachers concealing and carrying on campus is going to be a very controversial topic. Before any decision is made by the school board, there must be research and input. Law enforcement, the community, and staff suggestions are key components to this issue because they are vested in the safety of our students. I believe as a district we need more resource officers first and then continue to look at all the options concerning how to best protect our children, teachers, and staff. The health and safety of our students, teachers, and staff must be held to the highest standards. A safe and positive learning and working environment is due to all.
How should the district deal with drugs in the school district?
I believe in education, accountability, and treatment. The school district needs to continue working with our police department to control issues that take place on our campuses. With this being said, I am an advocate of random drug screenings for all of our students and routine visits by officers and drug dogs. I believe that a daily presence of a resource officer, random drug screenings, and drug dogs visits would be a deterrent to anyone wishing to break the law. It is also my opinion that a law enforcement presence leads to a positive respect for police officers. This is a crisis that goes above the school district level and needs to be handled by the law enforcement agencies.
How involved should the school board be with decision making for programs within the schools?
The school board should have little daily involvement in the decision making the process for programs in the school. The school district has hired qualified teachers and principals to make the right decisions for our students. It is my belief that the school board does not need to micromanage its staff. Teachers and principals need the freedom and creativity to initiate programs themselves that best fit the learning aspects for their students.
What is your current employment?
I have been a dentist in Stephenville since 1997 and have owned Robert Barberee BS DDS PC since 1998. For over 20 years, my financial management skills have included daily readings of profit loss statements, balance sheets, and budgets. I have successfully managed and grown my dental practice and dental assisting school. As the founder, director, and instructor of Dental Career Center of Stephenville, I provide certification to area students wanting a career in the healthcare field. I wrote the curriculum and I am certified by the state of Texas to teach dental assisting skills and train students in hands-on patient care. As an educator, I teach ethics, jurisprudence, history, and health-related courses. I find it fulfilling to treat and care for my patients and rewarding to train students in the healthcare field. The skills and certification they acquire create a career that provides for them and their families.
How long have you lived in this school district?
I have lived in the Stephenville school district since June of 1997 when I began my dental career in Stephenville. Stephenville is a great place to live and raise a family.
Do you have any children or relatives that attend Stephenville ISD?
I have two children that currently attend Stephenville ISD. Peyton will be senior at Stephenville High School next year and Mary Caroline will be in the 7th grade at Henderson Junior High. My oldest daughter, Lexie, is a 2011 SHS graduate. She is a LVN, wife, and mother to my grandchildren. Seth, is a 2016 honors graduate from SHS. He is an honors computer engineering major at Texas A&M University. My brother, Greg, is a 1993 SHS graduate. He is a father, lawyer, and active volunteer in his community.
In what ways are you already involved with the district?
I have been involved with the district ever since I started my career in Stephenville in 1997. I have donated my dental services as the SISD Athletic Sports Dentist since 1997. I have supported the Stephenville Athletic Booster Club, Stephenville Band Fans, Stingerettes, Stephenville High School Visual Arts, Choir, Special Olympics track meet, and multiple PTO functions through my 20 plus years as a community sponsor. Jane and I have helped underwrite, sponsor, and donated of our time to many SISD events and activities. Being asked to serve on the Stephenville Facilities Planning Committee was rewarding and informative. As a member, I was able to help evaluate the needs of the district over an 8 month period. This involvement lead to the current bond proposal.
Where are you involved in the community?
As a public servant who is vested in this community, I have a long history of community involvement and a desire to serve the students, teachers, and community of Stephenville. I began giving back to the community the same year that I moved to Stephenville. I have been a member of the Stephenville Optimist Club since 1997. I have worked track meets, toy drives, and auctions to raise money for the youth of Stephenville. As a Chamber of Commerce member since 1998, I have supported tourism and the growth of Stephenville. Through the Stephenville Chamber of Commerce, I am a Leadership Stephenville graduate class of 2000. This was a yearlong commitment to learn about the interactions of local businesses, health care, education, agriculture, and other entities and how they impact Stephenville. I also donate my dental services to HOPE Dental Clinic. I have been a volunteer dentist since 2000 and see patients monthly at no charge. I have always believed in giving back to people when they are in need. My family has been a member of First United Methodist Church since 1997. All of my children have been raised in the church and I have been on several church committees over the years including the finance committee. I am also involved with Tarleton State University. I have been a Texan Club member since coming to Stephenville and also the TSU Athletic Sports Dentist since 2000. I enjoy meeting and talking to the athletes about their family backgrounds and why they chose Tarleton for their academic and athletic career. Having been named One of Erath Counties Top 10 Male Community Leaders was an honor. This award was given to community members for their community involvement and volunteerism. As an Eagle Scout, I am a firm believer in the Boy Scout Law. I am trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. I’ve guided my son through the Boy Scout ranks and watched him earn his Eagle Scout award and I’ve mentored many scouts as they have journeyed through their scouting career. Having served on the Board of Review has always been a rewarding experience. I live by the Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared” in everything I do. I’ve carried this motto with me through life and because of it I have the educational, business, and leadership skills needed to successfully serve on the SISD School Board.