People ask me what I want to accomplish in the next 3 years. I am glad you asked, because I have so many dreams for our students and challenges to tackle. These are issues/priorities I believe are important as the Board determines a strong vision for the upcoming years and the Superintendent implements our vision. (The following are not necessarily listed in order of priority.)
Students First! My mentor, Patricia Paetow always said, “When you take care of students, you take care of everything else. You hire the best teachers, ensure strong curriculum and diverse opportunities, provide facilities and take care of families and community. When you take care of students, you will do the right thing.” Student success is our mission!
Teachers! We must attract and retain the highest quality teachers and staff. Teachers are Difference Makers. Their direct interaction with our students is the key to learning. It is important we provide resources and support for them and their classrooms. Educating students changes the future.
Safety and Security are a top priority. I support creating stronger and better security measures for our children and staff. They should feel safe while in our schools. During my Board tenure we have implemented new safety measures, like the raptor visitor sign-in system, increased security vestibules at school entries, security cameras, student I.D. lanyards, and security fencing to name a few, with more to come. My goal is to continue to evaluate best practices for safety and security as needs are identified.
Emotional Health. Another layer of safety and security is the emotional well-being of our children and adults in our schools. This is a complex issue and one we must take seriously and be proactive in tackling. Depression, anxiety, anger, and other disorders can cause a crisis so we must be better at identifying needs and provide help where possible.
Bullying prevention and intervention. I support the addition of the Bullying Prevention Coordinator and the work with staff and community to create steps to eliminate bullying. This is a work in progress and I support its development and improvement so our students and staff are respected and protected.
More opportunities for students! It is my passion. We need to continue our strong programs for college-bound children, and I want to expand opportunities for students through the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department. We have a variety of certification programs; however, one area remains untapped, TRADES. We can offer hands-on certifications to meet the demands of industries such as electrical, construction, HVAC, plumbers, etc. We have an opportunity to provide this program on property we already own. We can leverage the former Agriculture building for these programs. It is filled with possibilities. We can teach our children valuable, needed skills in a time when there is high demand, immediately following high school.
Virtual Schools. As we approach build-out of our area, I want to find ways to expand the virtual school opportunities to address student learning without additional brick and mortar buildings. This is a fiscally conservative idea for today’s digital learners. This will not replace schools, it will add flexibility and compatibility with traditional instruction.
Co-Curricular Classes are how we inspire and motivate students and connect with who they are and what they care about. I am a strong supporter of Band, Choir, Theater, Orchestra, Art, Athletics, FFA, Robotics and more. I believe strong co-curricular programs make well-rounded students who are high performers and great time managers which are great skills for the future.
Miller Career and Technology Center expansion. We offer lots of specialized classes to meet students’ interests like Auto-Tech, Culinary, Pre-Veterinarian, Pre-Law, Pharmacy, Cosmetology, Computer systems, Audio & TV, Manufacturing, and Pre-Dental, just to name a few. There are waiting lists for many of these programs and I want to expand new programs in creative ways to inspire students and give them marketable careers. One such is to add more opportunities in the medical field. We have multiple hospitals, elderly care facilities and medical offices in Katy so the potential for students to have internships, jobs and exposure to the medical field is abundant. We can expand to include nursing and pre-med classes and programs. We can partner with the medical professionals to find unique partnerships that benefit students.
State assessments. I want to eliminate the STAAR tests. I will continue to work with state legislators to have meaningful assessments for students that is not built on testing every student, in every grade, every year. I believe in accountability, but our current system is flawed. I will continue to work with legislators at the state and federal levels to ensure they understand how their laws impact our students and their learning. I am the only Trustee or candidate actively working with lawmakers.
Property Taxes. I am a fiscal conservative. KISD has not increased the tax rate in 11 years and decreased it in 2015. The county, not the district, determines property values. I supported using the Tier II funding option of golden pennies to leverage more revenue that is not subject to recapture by the state. This action did not increase the tax rate. These local funds stay in our local classrooms.
I believe we cannot give up on our students!
An EDUCATED populace pours INTO society – an UNEDUCATED populace DRAINS from it!
I support these programs and others designed to help students graduate.
- PEP – Pregnancy Education Program for our teen parents
- SYP – Simon Youth Academy is a specialized program to recapture drop outs and help them graduate. This program is housed at Katy Mills Mall and has a flexible schedule for students who work.
- Dropout prevention program – This Katy ISD department works diligently to prevent children from leaving school before successful completion.
- RaiseUp Families, is a non-profit organization I am involved in that focuses on helping children and families stay in their homes so children can stay in their school.
Special Education numbers continue to grow at astounding rates. The state average for special education students is approximately 6% of student population and KISD is 11-12%. It is imperative we provide the resources needed as demand for services increase. I support finding ways to recruit and retain highly qualified special education teachers and aides.
Achievement Gap. This gap is defined as a persistent disparity in educational performance of student groups usually defined by socioeconomic status, ethnicity and gender. With the increasing urbanization of our area we have to recognize the needs and define the plan for learning for our at-risk population.
Budget. Our primary spending must be directed to the classroom. Teachers are our most valuable asset and it is important to stay competitive in our salaries to attract the best. I am pleased every year when we give our employees an annual raise. An important part of rapid growth is managing debt and working to retire it early and effectively. A concern is to not overbuild schools as we near the end of our growth. We need to look at our existing buildings and maximize every facilityto best utilize our investments.
Expand the Shaw STEAM Center programs to reach more students on a regular basis. The areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math are in high demand so exposing our younger students to these areas is crucial in creating desire to pursue these pathways.
Recess. Young learners need more time to unplug and be children. I support more recess for our elementary students based on research showing it offers a time to rest, play, move and socialize. Recess gives children a break from thinking and learning and it resultsin betterconcentration and cognitive performance. More than one short break during the day is beneficial physically, mentally and emotionally to our younger learners. I support teachers and campuses deciding how to implement the breaks for their students.
Experience. I have the ability, desire and time to be in the community and schools for a first-hand look at what our community values. I have been to every campus. Observation is a powerful tool for a Trustee. Being present shows teachers they are valued and allows me to see the results of policies we implement. My experience provides stability and balance for a relatively new board and superintendent. Experiential knowledge is crucial to oversight required of a Trustee.
Independent Thinker. I have the strength to do what is right. I am not beholden to anyone. While it is important to work together as trustees for the benefit of our stakeholders, I understand this position belongs to the people. We should ask for your input and communicate with you in an open, honest, transparent style. I am Your Trustee. Your Voice.
Values. What I have learned through the years is issues change constantly. Recently our community has been inundated with negativity. I want to get back to our purpose and keep our focus on students. I want to assure the community our district is STRONG. We have extraordinary teachers and staff who are making a difference every day. They care about your children. Because issues change often, I always encourage people to vote for the person who most closely matches you and your values, and you will have the person making decisions that most reflect you.