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To inform readers about the candidates seeking their votes on the November ballot, the San Antonio Report asked all candidates to answer the following questions. We edited answers for clarity, not substance or grammar, and we did not fact-check responses. We restricted responses to 200 words for each question.
Read other candidates’ answers here.
North East ISD, District 1
Link to campaign website:
What is your educational background? Where did you go to school growing up and what is the highest level of education you completed?
I attended Catholic school and public school growing up, and graduated from Lee High School in Houston. I went to Sam Houston State University for two years.
If you have completed higher education, what degrees or certifications have you earned and from where? In what years did you complete these degrees or certifications?
I have over 1,000 hours of Continuing Education Credit in the area of public education. I have taken courses in accounting for past employers. I have completed a four-year course through University of the South, Education for Ministry. I am a graduate of Leadership TASB, with the designation Master Trustee.
What is your current occupation, employer, and job title?
I left my paid employment to become a full time advocate for public school children.
List any previous elected offices that you held and the term you held that office. List any elected offices you sought and the years you sought those offices.
This is the only elected position I have ever held. I have never run for anything else, and had no desire to do so. I have been approached several times to run for other offices, but this is where my heart is.
Why do you feel you are the best candidate for the office you are seeking?
I bring experience and knowledge that is important right now as we move forward in these difficult times. There will be no “learning curve”. I bring transparency, a positive attitude, and unwavering support for our teachers and our children. I listen, I care, and I am extremely involved. I know this district and our community. I am always available for questions or concerns, and make every effort to follow through with the administration when a parent has an issue. While I am painfully aware of challenges, I am confident that this district will address those successfully, and I make every effort to share that with our community.
What three issues do you feel are most important to your constituents?
Safety and security of our students and staff is a huge priority. In the past, that might have been defined as campus safety from those trying to harm us. Now that has been greatly expanded to include safe health practices as we deal with COVID. It will also include social and emotional health as we deal with the side-effects of isolation and virtual learning.
That leads to another issue – maintaining a high level of education under circumstances that no one has ever dealt with.
Financial responsibility is a third issue. We continue to lower the tax rate, although we have no control over property values that might cause an increase in tax payments. We will continue to work at providing whatever relief we can for taxpayers.
If you are elected, what will be your top priorities once you take office?
My priorities will continue to be the goals set by the Board and superintendent. These include, but are not limited to, hiring and retaining the best teachers, the social and emotional health of our students and staff, and telling our story. One priority that I look forward to building on is student voice. We have always had parents and community as part of the team in many ways – PTA, various committees, mentors, etc. Increasing the voice of our students at a Board level has been enlightening and exciting. They have so much to offer. They are bright, inquisitive and caring. I would also like to continue the focus on telling our story. There are an amazing amount of positive things going on, and we have a responsibility to continue to share that. When we let other people tell our story, they are often in it for financial gain, or a personal agenda. We have a duty to address the misinformation.
For incumbents: What accomplishments are you most proud of during your time in office? Is there any vote or decision you would change now looking back?
I am most proud of being a member of a high-functioning, effective Board and district. For the most part, school boards in Texas have a deep understanding of their responsibilities, legal limitations, and ethical behavior. NEISD has often led in that respect. A divisive board that argues about minutia or crosses the line into the everyday duties of the superintendent is dysfunctional and harmful to the district.
As to previous votes and decisions, no vote is ever taken lightly or without deep research and consideration of multiple factors. Often, it is months or even years of research and planning that bring items to the agenda. All data is available for anyone who questions it, and most is easily available online. People who are involved in the district as parents or community members know that we do not take the responsibility of this work lightly. We have an amazing group of administrative and teaching professionals that have the best interests of our children and our district at heart. I trust them. Unanimous votes are an indication of hard work and attention to detail.
That is not to say that there weren’t votes that challenged me. But everything must be considered through the lens of what is best for ALL children.
For non-incumbents: Would you do anything differently from the current representative holding the office you’re seeking?
How do you assess your community college district or school district’s performance during the pandemic and the way it served students?
I believe NEISD has been a leader in many areas of COVID response. Like several other districts, our response was immediate and global. As an example, the work by our Nutrition Services was amazing, and set a high bar. Not only did we feed the children of NEISD, but children from charter schools, private schools, and other school districts. The reviews of the meals served were great. By mid-summer, we had served over two million meals – a testament to an outstanding job. It was an all-in effort, too.
Transportation services was there to help deliver meals, other areas were helping where they could. Again, their priority is our children.
In addition, we started early to work with our families to offer multiple options for technical connectivity.
One area where we truly led was emotional support. Our counselors were only a phone call away for our students and parents. I heard so many stories from friends about the outstanding job this team did for our district.
How will you approach budgeting for your district given the economic uncertainties? What are your budget priorities you would want to keep intact?
We are already in the process of dealing with anticipated loss of revenue. Cost containment measures are being reviewed. Sadly, loss of revenue is not a new experience for public schools, so we have extensive experience in dealing with this. One area that we have always been able to avoid is a reduction in force, or RIF. It would be morally wrong to have to lay off the backbone of our education system, our teachers and staff. It was heartbreaking to not be able to offer a raise this year, and I will always work to increase their pay. I am so grateful that we are able to offer a low-cost, high-quality medical insurance program. We have worked hard to make sure our teachers are not met with premium increases year after year. This is a huge benefit that I know we will work to maintain.
How do you plan to work to overcome academic gaps that may have developed or widened during the pandemic?
One of the best methods is listening to the experts – our teachers. I have complete faith in these professionals, that they will do everything in their power to help our students. After all, to our teachers these are their children, not some number on state spreadsheets full of enormous amounts of data. If you have witnessed their unbelievable creativity and hard work as they have dealt with a daily-changing landscape, you would know that we have some of the best. They chose this profession to make a difference, and I believe they do, every single day, and every single way that they can. So my plan to help with overcoming academic gaps is to listen and support. I will not be publicly criticizing and blaming teachers for past, present or future failures. This is a team effort. We must be in this together, as a community, as caring people who want the absolute best for our children.