1. How long have you lived in Stephenville, and do you have any children attending school in the district?
I have lived in Stephenville continuously since 1984. I have a grandson at Henderson Junior High and another grandson who will start Kindergarten at Central Elementary in the Fall. The oldest grandson graduated in 2013. All three children graduated from Stephenville High School in 1988, 1989, and 2003.
2. What is your background - educational and professional - makes you qualified to sere as a member of the school board?
I graduated from Tarleton State University with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree before completing a Ph.D. at Texas A&M University. I retired from Tarleton State University in May 2018 after a 33 year career in teacher education. During that time as a teaching professor, I served as Certification Officer, Director of Teacher Education, and Department Head of Curriculum and Instruction. I taught 4th grade prior to beginning my career at Tarleton.
I have served as a trustee of the Stephenville ISD for the last 18 years. I was selected to attend the Texas Association of School Boards (TASB) Leadership Academy and then elected to serve as TASB Director. These opportunities have provided experiences and insights into the educational system in Texas as well as the country. My passion for education and the future of our children and public education provide the direction for my service.
3. Did you support the 2018 bond? Why or why not?
I fully supported the 2018 bond. Although maintenance of the facilities has been excellent, the age, increased enrollment, added vocational curriculum, and recent concerns for school safety made the bond necessary and appropriate.
For example, robotics and health sciences were sharing a classroom and vocational spaces. Athletic dressing rooms were outdated. The 72 entrance/exits at the high school created even more of a safety and security concern. Since we were at the end of paying the Henderson Junior High bond, it was time to address the much-needed facilities and safety concerns at the high school and Gilbert Intermediate.
4. Are you supportive of the “Future Ready” program the school district is involved with?
The “Future Ready” program is crucial to ensure that our graduates are competitive in the job markets as well as everyday. It is hard to predict what jobs and careers will be available in the future. What we can do is prepare our students to be problem solvers and thinkers that access information to make informed decisions. In today’s environment, technology becomes critical as a tool. Collaboration and building relationships is necessary, as well, for our students to be “Future Ready.”
5. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Stephenville ISD?
From the perspective of what we can address locally, one of our biggest current challenges is how to address overall safety and security. Recent events have created an even bigger challenge to keep our children safe and secure in our schools. Part of the bond package includes safety updates to the high school as well as Gilbert Intermediate. Access control, as well a change in the culture of our students and staff must be addressed. Recently, the District hired a security solutions firm to evaluate the schools. As this report is completed, a five year plan will be developed and implemented to address all safety and security concerns identified. As part of this concern, our students need more access to social, emotional, and mental support. This will require an examination of the role of counselors, possibly hiring more counselors at the junior and senior high school.
Currently proposed increases in state funding designated specifically for safety and security may help. Lack of state funding is one of the biggest challenges facing public schools in Texas. Texas typically ranks 42nd—47th among states in per-pupil funding. HB3 raises the basic allotment to $6,030 from $5,140, an $890- per-student increase. In recent years the state has steadily reduced its share of school funding from 46 percent in 2008 to a 36 percent this year. Of course, that means that your local share has risen from 54 percent in 2008 to 64 percent. HB3 reverses that trend, increasing the state’s share by about 5 percent each year of the upcoming biennium.
Funding impacts expanded opportunities for our students and salaries for teachers and support staff. As stated in the Texas Constitution, Article 7.Section 1, “it shall be the duty of the Legislature of the State to establish and make suitable provision for the support and maintenance of an efficient system of public free schools.” HB 462/HJR 24 (Geren) would enact, if approved by Texas voters, a constitutional amendment requiring the state to pay at least 50 percent of the cost of maintaining and operating Texas public schools.