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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 5
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 grew up in Denison, Texas and attended public schools. I graduated from Denison High School. I graduated from Austin College with a BA in Accounting.
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?
What is your current occupation, employer, and job title?
My career is a community volunteer. After working in the banking industry, I became a stay-at-home mom when my son was born. When he started Mothers Day Out, I started volunteering and never stopped.
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.
NEISD School Board Trustee 2012-2020
Why do you feel you are the best candidate for the office you are seeking?
I have lived in the District for 33 years. My children grew up in the District and graduated from Johnson High School. I am experienced with my 8 years of service on the board and my 7 years as a PTA volunteer prior to that. It is a labor of love, and I am not seeking political gain. I serve because I care about ALL 60,000+ children in the district and equity for all. I have made decisions that are best for ALL children. I don’t have a personal agenda nor am I a one-issue candidate. I understand what a board member’s role is. Under my leadership, we have hired a superintendent who is a change agent. We have made the mental health of our children and staff a priority. We changed the class rank policy, which I believe will help alleviate stress in our children. We implemented a student voice initiative that gives our children a voice and a seat at the table with the Superintendent and Board President. Under my leadership, we have expanded the CTEC program. We just approved a new Cybersecurity program to meet the demands of our students for high wage, high demand jobs.
What three issues do you feel are most important to your constituents?
A great educational experience for their children. We know parents want options, and we provide that with our magnet programs, dual language programs, and even school choice to attend a school other than the one you are zoned to attend. We heard from parents that they wanted better programs for their children who are advanced learners. We added Hyper Accelerated Math in elementary school. We heard from parents who wanted middle school soccer. We added that. We regularly survey our parents, and we are listening and adding programs where we can. We also need to arm our students with the tools they need to maintain their emotional health. Maintaining the mental wellness of our students is more challenging than ever.
Fiscal responsibility. The board lowered the tax rate again this year. We have lowered it every year since 2015 for a total reduction of 12%. Our board has taken a very conservative approach to adopting the budget the past few years. We are fiscally responsible in that we spend within our budget, we put our money into classrooms and we would not consider cutting services.
High performing schools. Constituents want to look to NEISD to consistently provide good schools.
If you are elected, what will be your top priorities once you take office?
The mental health of our children and staff is a top priority. It was already a priority before the pandemic and has become even more important. As a board, we have invested in programs and staff to support mental well being.
Another priority is continuing to provide innovative courses for our children. I want to provide courses that align with high wage, high demand industries. That is why we are evolving our magnet programs. We took a single program, the Automotive Technology Academy, and added other components and industries to create the Career and Technical Education Center. We are following that blueprint by creating a new Cybersecurity center.
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 hiring Dr. Maika as our Superintendent. He is a change agent. He is looking at processes and policies with new eyes, and we are beginning to see a change in the culture and seeing improvements. One of the biggest changes is relationships. Dr. Maika is constantly out visiting campuses and departments. As a result, people feel that they matter. That has affected the way staff sees board members. We aren’t the “ceremonial” board member that just attends events for photo ops. We are visiting campuses with Dr. Maika, talking to teachers and staff, and experiencing the great things that are happening in our District. The Board has become much more approachable.
I am very proud of our student voice initiative. We created groups at each high school who then appointed two members from their campus committee to meet with Dr. Maika and myself once a grading period. We have a diverse group of students who participate because we wanted a cross-section of students. We wanted to give a voice to the voiceless. We have seen our students be empowered to make decisions to better themselves because they have been given a voice.
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 that Dr. Maika and his staff have done an amazing job in response to the pandemic. We were the first district to start feeding children during the closure. We fed over 2,400,000 meals. We were the first District to create a counselor hotline and a nurse hotline. We wanted to provide resources to our parents and children while they were at home. We paid all of our staff during the school closure, including some of our substitute teachers, because we felt it was important. Our administrative staff worked extremely hard over the summer to enhance virtual learning. We created a more robust virtual learning experience for our children. I would say that we were cutting edge in the way that we responded to the pandemic. Dr. Maika and his team also developed a very thoughtful phase-in approach to bringing children back to campus. While not everyone liked our plan, the goal was to bring our children back safely and keep them back. We have done a very good job keeping children at school.
How will you approach budgeting for your district given the economic uncertainties? What are your budget priorities you would want to keep intact?
The board has had a very conservative approach to adopting our budget the past several years. We adopted a budget this year without a raise or other compensation and while that was difficult to do, we wanted to be prepared if we had a shortfall of revenue. We are fiscally responsible in that we spend within our budget and put our money into our classrooms. We want to ensure that we are able to provide all of the programs and services that our children, parents and staff are accustomed to.
Dr. Maika and his team have been reviewing the budgets of the Divisions to ensure that they are operating efficiently. Our goal is to keep all of our employees if we go through an economic downturn.
In order to help our taxpayers, we have lowered the tax rate every year since Sept. 2015 for a 12% total reduction.
It is important to note that we have stayed within our budget even with the COVID related expenses.
How do you plan to work to overcome academic gaps that may have developed or widened during the pandemic?
The long-term learning loss of the pandemic is on everyone’s minds. In June, we anticipated that we would have students who would be impacted by the COVID slide. As a result, we voted to amend our calendar. We added three additional days to the calendar, and by adopting the amended calendar we will have the opportunity to collect additional ADA funding for students enrolled in grades K-5 who attend school beyond the 180 school days to support summer or Saturday school. The District is identifying the students who are demonstrating learning loss, and we will offer them the opportunity for additional support.