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Meet the Candidates: Argyle ISD

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A total of five candidates filed for two at-large seats on May 12 in the Argyle ISD.

Incumbents Wendee Long and Randy McKellar and joined by candidates Eric Fields, Spencer Jefferies, and James Manos.

The Cross Timbers Gazette asked each candidate in a contested race to answer a short questionnaire to help you make an informed decision at the polls.  Here are their responses:

Eric Fields

Age:  40

City/Town of Residence:  Argyle

Current Occupation:  Vice President – Environmental Improvements, Inc.

Education:  Bachelor of Science – Civil Engineering, Texas A&M University

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong?  Member, Cross Timbers Church, Argyle Campus.  Active supporter of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Denton County.  Currently coach for the Argyle Youth Sports Association (AYSA).

Why should you be elected? My message is simple.  I’d like to help make Argyle ISD the best in Texas.  This community deserves the very best.  I am an engineer by education and business owner.  I have served on many boards professionally and personally.  This experience has given me the ability to manage challenging situations while effectively working with others in a team environment.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? The biggest challenge facing the Argyle ISD is balancing the budget.  Like many school districts in Texas, Argyle ISD is facing a budget shortfall heading in to the new fiscal year.  In general, I think it is more productive to create new revenue than continue to cut resources like teachers, assistants, programs and even facilities like the Intermediate School campus.  Given the fact that many of these cuts were implemented last year to meet a budget shortfall, I think it would be very risky to continue to remove the valuable assets and resources our kids need to be successful.  On a personal note, I would like to say that I do not have a hidden agenda.  I sincerely want to serve our community and children with a servant’s heart.  I appreciate the individuals currently serving on the school board and I value their opinion.  These are our neighbors and our friends and I look forward to working with them in the near future.

Website: ww.facebook.com/EricFieldsforArgyleisdSchoolBoard

Spencer Jefferies

Age:  50

City/Town of Residence:  Bartonville

Current Occupation:  Publisher of Investment Research Data

Education:  BBA with degrees in Real Estate and Finance from UT – Austin

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong?  PTA Board Member (Treasurer), Church at the Cross (Bible teacher for 5th & 6th-graders since 2004)

Why should you be elected? Since moving into Argyle ISD with my wife and four children five years ago, I have served on the district’s “Strategic Planning Committee” that developed plans for 2009 – 2014, the Argyle Intermediate School Campus Leadership Team (2011 – 2012) and the Argyle Intermediate School PTA board as Treasurer for the years 2008 – 2010 and 2011 to current.  In 2008 I founded the “Dads Club” of the PTA at Hilltop Elementary School which I led until 2011.  For the past four years I have served with the crew of dads that prepares breakfasts for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes meetings on Friday mornings during the fall.  All of these efforts stem from my love for Argyle.  I will combine this passion with my analytical skills and leadership ability to ensure that Argyle ISD continues to excel in every area.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? Argyle ISD faces enormous budget issues in the next few years based on existing funding of public schools by the State of Texas, including a projected $1 million shortfall for the 2012-2013 school year, followed by an even larger $2 million shortfall for the 2013-2014 school year.  These budget deficits must be resolved through a combination of reduced expenses and increased revenues in a way that maintains the high quality of our  schools as this will not only impact how well our students are prepared for their next step beyond high school but also property values within the Argyle ISD boundaries.  Another major issue that must be addressed is maximizing the use of our existing schools so that we will be prepared for the growth that will come as the economy continues to improve and as two new housing subdivisions begin development in the next few years.  While addressing these issues, the board must ensure that (i) we provide classroom instruction at the highest levels so that every student is challenged to reach his/her potential and (ii) we offer programs and other activities for our students that provide them with opportunities to be “plugged in” outside the classroom while representing Argyle ISD, the preeminent Class 3A school in Texas!

Wendee Long

Age: 46

City/Town of Residence: Argyle

Current Occupation:  Public School Administrator

Education: Masters of Educational Administration

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Did not answer

Why should you be re-elected? I believe I should be re-elected because I bring 22 years of experience in public education to the team. I believe in making all decisions to benefit the students we serve first because this is a business about serving students. We have a fairly new board and each of us brings a different experience and background making for a well-rounded team of individuals. It is my goal to be willing to ask questions so decisions made by the board are made with the most relevant and accurate information available. The public needs to know the board makes decisions based on the information provided by the district.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? The main challenges facing Argyle ISD is funding. This is an issue facing the entire state of Texas. The budget can be balanced this year in several ways. The board and community are in the process of discussing those options now. The resolution will be decided once all parties have met and decided on the most beneficial plan derived from those meetings. It is my goal for the district to be able to provide the programs currently provided without cutting programs due to budget constraints.

Jim Manos

Age: 44

City/Town of Residence: Bartonville

Current Occupation: Director of Technology and Business Development

Education: Harvard University – Masters Degree

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Cross Timbers Community Church

Why should you be elected? Every school board has to make difficult decisions.  I believe that it is important to openly discuss our issues and come together as a community to resolve them. How do we achieve this? Invite everyone to discuss the current issues; Determine what possible outcomes or future we want to achieve; Decide how everyone can contribute to the success of the endeavor; Allow people to express their own reservations and doubts. I will utilize my strengths as a critical thinker, consensus builder, technologist, and businessman to help the district achieve success.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? As some of you may know, Argyle ISD is facing some tough choices over the next few months and years. Why? Argyle ISD is currently about $1M short for 2012-2013 and about $2M the year after next. How the district plans to address the issues is of major concern. Items that are currently being discussed include: Increasing taxes; Reducing expenses; Closing the Intermediate School; Limited Open Enrollment. Some of these items were discussed at the last school board meeting and will continue to be discussed over the next few weeks. These potential options are critical and need to be considered carefully. There are financial as well as educational considerations involved with each item. There is not enough room here to adequately address each of these options so I invite you to visit my website to see my thoughts over the next few weeks. I am also available to discuss them in person. Some friends are hosting a meet and greet over the next few weeks and I will post the details on my website.

Website: www.jmanos.com

Randy McKellar

Age: 55

City/Town of Residence: Argyle

Current Occupation: IT Manager, Zale Corporation

Education: BA Mathematics, BS Computer Science

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Did not answer

Why should you be re-elected? I have experience as a school board trustee and have served as board secretary and board president.  I have worked to understand school finance, school law and what it takes to maintain a quality school district for our students and our staff.  My children have participated in almost every program in Argyle and I fully appreciate the challenges that Argyle faces today.  I will continue to study the issues, consider the long-term impacts and always focus on what is best for our students.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? Our major challenge is continuing to offer a high quality educational environment as our state funding decreases and our expenses increase.  Argyle faces short-term enrollment decreases and longer term increases.  We’ll need to add campuses and staff and manage that growth within our budget. We need to continue to upgrade our infrastructure and incorporate new approaches to education in order to meet the challenge of preparing students to be responsible and capable adults. There is no easy solution as our conditions change.  What I will do is continue to focus on the vision we have in Argyle – to provide a positive educational environment, where students are challenged and encouraged to succeed; and where good teachers feel supported and can inspire their students.  I will work to understand the complexity of planning for our future and find ways to achieve our goals.  And I will continue to advocate for involving and informing our community.

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