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. (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.
Mental and emotional health. Mental and emotional health is an ongoing concern for our students and staff, but it is even more pronounced after the difficult year we experienced. School counselors are overworked with educational requirements, so more help is needed for mental and emotional health. The district recently went from 2 to 6 social workers to help with emotional needs but, a population of 87,000 students is a big bucket with a small staff to assist. Ongoing attention to this area is necessary. The school district’s goal is to have well-rounded students who have every educational and co-curricular opportunity to discover the best of themselves, develop their strengths and be ready to take on their futures.
Pandemic. Students are the priority, and due to the pandemic, the immediate issue is making sure all students are on track with their education. Teachers have made herculean efforts to redesign curriculum delivery and they deserve our respect. Still, there will likely be a gap in learning, and a plan is needed to make sure every student is caught up. The district should consider teacher/student ratios where needs are greatest. Before or after school tutoring can help students with learning gaps. Expanded transportation might be needed for tutorials. Mental and emotional health is a great concern because of the fear, social distancing and remote learning separating students from their friends and support groups Reopening campuses and restoring all programs as soon as possible is important because students have missed out on rich opportunities and experiences with the restrictions. As a ‘boots-on-the-ground’ leader, I am constantly involved in campuses and the community to better understand issues to make informed decisions and implement needed changes.
Achievement Gap. This gap has likely grown during the pandemic; it’s 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.
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. Katy ISD has 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. It is filled with possibilities. Katy ISD can teach our children valuable, needed skills in a time when there is high demand and high return on this investment.
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.
State assessments. I want to eliminate the STAAR tests. I will work with state legislators to have meaningful assessments for students that are not built on testing every student, in every grade, every year. I believe in accountability, but our current system is flawed.
Property Taxes. I am a fiscal conservative. Tax dollars are for the betterment of students. Efficient and effective use of tax dollars are the primary financial focus of the Board of Trustees.
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.
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. An important part of rapid growth is managing debt and working to retire it early and effectively. It is important to plan effective utilization of the existing facilities , not to overbuild, as we near the end of our growth. We need to look at our existing buildings and maximize every facility to 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 younger students to these areas is crucial in creating desire to pursue these pathways.
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 would be a benefit to 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. 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.
Miller Career and Technology Center expansion. KATY ISD offers 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.
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.
Bullying. Bullying is a systemic problem in our society. There isn’t one perfect solution and we must be on the forefront of protecting victims and act to acknowledge bullying and address it. The district should expand support to existing programs and educate about its devastation and impact. This is an ongoing effort; when there are complaints, the district should follow through with that complaint or concern, make modifications or changes, and communicate with all parties involved throughout the process. Some efforts to assist with awareness and resolutions could include things like, signs on school buildings about what bullying is and what to do when you see it or experience it, a link for help included on the student ID, a well-marked link on the district’s website to give people resources and constant communication sent out to students, parents, staff and community. With the evolving technologies that give rise to new opportunities for bullying there needs to be constant training and communication to make adults and children aware of how their actions affect others.