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?
How can a person who is running for school trustee say that they are not for funding that will help improve the safety, education and accessibility of our schools? The truth is Gilbert, Hook and Stephenville High School are all in need of major repairs and renovations, if not more. The bond proposes security upgrades, safety improvements, and much needed updates and upgrades to ADA restrooms, Fine Arts Classes, CTE Classes and changing areas for athletics, just to name a few. I encourage all voters to take the opportunity to tour these facilities and see for themselves the conditions our kids and teachers are required to exist in every day and then make their decision. The problems are simply this; these facilities did not fall into these conditions over night and is this proposal enough for the future needs? If this bond does not pass, we will still have the same ADA, security and outdated facilities issues we have today. Is this bond proposal the right one? That is up to the voters. If the bond passes, it is the trustees’ job to ensure that the funding is distributed according to the needs of the campuses.
What is your opinion on the tax rate set by the school board currently?
The current tax rate set by the school board is 1.2349. When you compare this rate to the other schools in our new football and academic districts, you will find that we are third. If you average the tax rates of these districts, you will find that our current tax rate is roughly .05 below the average of all these schools. I bring this comparison up because I think that it is important to see where we are in our funding in the district. With the way state funding is being cut for public schools more and more of the responsibility is being shifted to the local tax payer. The hard truth of the matter is, our schools are funded by tax dollars and without them our schools cannot operate. It is the job of the trustees to ensure that the tax rate is set at a level that we can fund our programs, pay salaries and maintain our facilities without placing an undue burden on tax payers. It is the job of the trustees to look closely at the budget and ensure tax dollars are spent wisely. I do not believe in frivolous spending of tax dollars but I understand that sometimes these rates have to be adjusted to maintain or improve the quality of programs that we provide for our schools.
What is the area that the school board needs to improve the most in?
I appreciate the hard work and dedication that the school board members have given to our community. They have done a good job, but there are always areas that we can make improvements in. The two areas that I believe need the most improvement are; transparency and fiscal responsibility. I believe that it is extremely important that governing bodies be transparent about what they are doing. Our citizens lead busy lives and cannot always attend a board meeting. We can improve our transparency by live streaming and/or recording and posting the board meetings which will help keep tax payers informed. We can further improve transparency by making information easier to find on the website. The second area that needs improvement is fiscal responsibility. We should be cautious of spending tax dollars on programs, buildings and with vendors that do not benefit SISD as a whole. The SISD budget must be carefully planned out so that spending is not just for today but for tomorrow.
What is the greatest issue facing SISD?
The greatest issue facing SISD today is progress. We live in constantly changing times which creates challenges to how we keep up. The changes in crimes committed at schools, technology, educational requirements and society’s expectations force us to constantly think ahead. We must be proactive in our search for ways to keep up with an ever-changing world so that we can ensure the success of our students.
What is your opinion of teachers concealing and carrying on campus?
School security goes much further than should teachers be allowed to carry guns to school. School security has many steps and they start from the outside of the building. The steps involved in school security are target hardening, entry control, and response options. Target hardening and entry control are great deterrents and must be considered first. Ultimately, we have to be prepared to stop an attacker that may be inside or may have come from inside the school. There are programs that are designed to stop such an attacker. Programs like School Marshals, Guardians and most importantly School Resource Officers. SRO’s are trained police officers that are assigned to the school whose primary purpose is the safety and security of students, teachers and staff. Currently, SISD has one SRO for seven campuses. I strongly believe that we should focus on target hardening, entry control and SRO programs before we ask teachers to carry on campus.
How should the district deal with drugs in the school district?
The use of drugs in our schools and by our students can not be tolerated. The consequences for students being caught with drugs or using drugs need to be severe. If a student is caught using drugs the student’s ability to participate in extracurricular activities should be removed until certain requirements are met. These requirements should include extensive counseling, education and retesting. We must be prepared to help the students that are not in extracurricular activities that suffer with use and addiction as well. SISD could help our students with drug related problems by partnering with local service organizations that are experienced in this area. A partnership with these organizations would help open the door to recovery for students by giving them access to the services they need. SISD has a duty to help our kids that are struggling with addiction as well as other issues. SISD could open its doors to service organizations and allow the students to receive help during the school day. The most important part of this is helping the student.
How involved should the school board be with the decision making for programs within the schools?
The school board should remember that its job is to be the overseer of the school system and not get directly involved in the day to day operation of programs. Each authorized program in the schools should have rules and guidelines as to how they operate. The rules and guidelines should go through a review process before the program is implemented and then be made public. Once the program has been established the school board should not be involved unless the board’s involvement is requested by staff, students, parents or there is a change in law. If a review is requested it should be for an allegation of a law violation, fairness issue or other unfair practice. The board then should offer an opinion and the program should go through a review process to make the appropriate changes. The board’s direct involvement should not be outside of these very restricted guidelines.
What is your current employment?
I am currently the Patrol Lieutenant for the Stephenville Police Department. I am also an adjunct instructor for the Weatherford College Police Academy.
How long have you lived in this school district?
I have lived in Stephenville Independent School District district for 29 years.
Do you have any children or relative that attend Stephenville ISD?
I have a daughter that is a junior at Stephenville High School.
In what ways are you already involved with the district?
As a law enforcement officer, I am involved with SISD on a regular basis on a professional level. This includes answering calls for police service, speaking to kids, participating in health and safety programs and career days. As parents my wife and I are involved with the Choir and Theatre programs. As a small business owner, I provide audio and video services to these programs for the students and the teachers. As a citizen of Stephenville, I have spoken in front of the school board on some of the issues mentioned above.
Where are you involved in the community?
Most of my community involvement revolves around my position as a law enforcement officer and my membership at First Baptist Church Stephenville. I am involved with Stop the Silence, public education, health and safety fairs, fund raisers for Children’s Advocacy Center, Citizen Police Academy, as well as job fairs. I am active member of the church and I lead small groups, have helped create and am the chair of our Safety and Security Team.