1. How long have you lived in Stephenville, and do you have any children attending school in the district?
I have continuously lived and worked in Stephenville as a lawyer for the last 25 years. My wife, Heather, and our two daughters have been life-long residents of Stephenville. Kendall is a senior and Carly is a freshman and both have been active in extra-curricular activities at school and in the community.
Heather and I place a high value on education and want SISD to be the best it can be for our children and yours. Heather graduated from SHS and then from Tarleton with a Masters of Education. Heather is a licensed professional counselor and owns her own gym. Kendall will be attending TCU this fall to become a speech language pathologist with an emphasis in working with autistic children. Carly has always wanted to be a neo-natal nurse in a hospital’s intensive care unit.
2. What in your background - educational and professional - makes you qualified to serve as a member of the school board?
I was valedictorian of my high school and graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a double major in Civil Engineering and Engineering and Public Policy, graduating fourth in my engineering class.
I was a lead structural engineer for M.W. Kellogg, an international engineering and construction company in Houston, for five years. I designed new steel structures and concrete foundations for Fortune 500 companies and went to their facilities to formulate and implement structural design solutions for renovations to existing structures. While employed full time, I attended law school at night and graduated from the University of Houston with a Juris Doctorate in only 3.5 years.
I own multiple businesses in Stephenville and am keenly aware of the commitment, dedication and accountability necessary to be successful. My wife and I have given countless hours of our time to our schools and local charities, as well as donating items and financial contributions.
My professional career, business acumen, work ethic and commitment to excellence, make me uniquely qualified to serve on the school board. I would be honored and humbled by your trust in my ability and desire to continue to serve the needs and best interests of our students and our community.
3. Did you support the 2018 bond? Why or why not?
I supported the bond because we need to protect our children and teachers by improving the safety and security of our schools, renovate the inadequate Career Technical Education classrooms, and build facilities that meet the needs of our Ag, fine arts and athletic programs in order to better serve our students.
I did not support the district’s fiscal irresponsibility regarding the bond project. Examples include: 1) the district refused to obtain cost estimates from general contractors before it asked the public to approve a $60.8 million bond project. As a result, the public was told that a softball field would cost $1.0 million; however, the softball field will cost over $1.7 million, not including the additional cost of road access and parking for the new field; 2) the district did not make known that it intended to purchase 30 year bonds to repay the bond debt; however, when this was learned, the board was able to secure 24 year bonds, which saved taxpayers over $8.0 million in debt repayment; and 3) the district, despite having millions of dollars available, refused to self-fund any of the project’s cost, which would have lessened the burden on taxpayers.
4. Are you supportive of the “Future Ready” program the school district is involved with?
Using technology in the classrooms isn’t about every student having an Ipad. It’s about new opportunities to support learning by allowing teachers to use different apps, websites or online resources to enhance the traditional way of teaching and to keep students more engaged. Technology enables a teacher to create a more focused, personalized approach to individualized instruction to maximize each student’s learning.
I support the district’s involvement with “Digital Promise’s League of Innovative Schools” program, which uses the “Future Ready” framework for digital learning visioning, planning and implementation focused on personalized student learning.
The flexibility and capability to create personalized learning environments for students of varying abilities and learning styles greatly expands opportunities for meaningful engagement, productive collaboration and higher achievement.
Tech-forward classrooms are essential for preparing students to be successful in their careers. Modern learning is about collaborating with others, critical thinking, developing different forms of communication and leadership skills, and productivity. Technology can also help students develop many practical skills, including creating presentations. The implementation of technology into our classrooms will lead to improved educational outcomes for our students and will help prepare them for life after graduation.
5. What do you see as the biggest challenge facing the Stephenville Independent School District?
Accountability, responsibility and transparency. The district should be honest and forthright in its everyday interactions with students, teachers, parents and community.
Accountability and responsibility should never be avoided because of a lack of commitment to do what is right or a fear of conflict. Actions need to be consistent for both employees and students of our district and irrespective of the person’s gender or race. The district owes a responsibility to the students, teachers, parents and community to fairly and consistently administer consequences for wrongdoing.
It is unacceptable that 1) an administrator failed to disclose to the board and the public for months that almost $20,000 was stolen from a junior high fundraising effort until after the bond election; 2) no action was taken when a district employee shoplifted at a local store; and 3) the district’s environment is such that in a 2019 school survey, 74% responded that bullying is a problem at our schools.
We should demand that our district be accountable, accept responsibility for its actions and be transparent in its operations.