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Meet the Candidates: Lewisville ISD

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Place 1 trustee Tom Ferguson is not seeking re-election on May 12, and his seat has drawn the attention of former trustee Kathy Duke, June Ehinger, Tracee Ali, and Paige Shoven.

Vernell Gregg is being challenged in Place 2 by former LISD employee Trisha Sheffield and Cornelia Bekker.

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

Lewisville ISD – Place 1

Tracee Ali

Age:  45

City/Town of Residence: Lewisville

Current Occupation:  Career Counselor

Education:  Masters in Counseling from Florida State University

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong?  PTA, Girl Scouts, Operation Kindness, Marathon Kids

Why should you be elected? I have no political agenda for wanting to be on the board.  I am simply a parent and career counselor who is concerned that the well-being of our children is being overlooked on a daily basis while we fight the big battles such as zoning and budget cuts.  If I am elected to the board, I will maintain focus on the counseling and career development programs in the schools, the special needs of the students, and the technology initiatives of the classrooms.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? I believe that one challenge we face is inequality among the schools.  I would support all school facilities being brought up to equal standards across the district.  This would also reduce some of the issues that we are facing with rezoning, which is another big challenge that we face.   More long-term planning with involvement by all the schools and communities affected would alleviate some of this tension.  Finally, I think that more parent involvement is called for to assist the students in navigating the school system and communicating to the teachers, administrators, and school board what they need.  The district and schools should encourage parents to organize into groups and work with them to achieve success for all.

Website:  www.facebook.com/TraceeAli4LISD

Kathy Duke

Age:  44

City/Town of Residence:  Highland Village

Current Occupation:  Sales-Insurance Agent:  Century Insurance Agency

Education:  Bachelors of Social Work

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong?  Member of Treitsch United Methodist, Communities in Schools of North Texas, Flower Mound Rotary, Flower Mound Chamber, Lewisville Chamber, PTA

Why should you be elected?  I am the best candidate for this position because I am experienced, fiscally conservative and a good steward of our tax dollars.  I am a positive leader with a proven track record.  I want to take the negative politics out of LISD.  LISD needs positive leadership about all the students and not about single agenda items.  Our district strives to be exceptional and deserves exceptional leadership.

What are the main challenges facing your district and how would you resolve them? LISD is a district of 52,000 students and faces many challenges including school finances, diversification and aging areas. As a board member I want to help in assisting School Districts to regain local control.  This district is doing a good job being pro-active on school finance.  We have to continue working with the Legislators about issues districts are facing, remain lean on the budget and yet still take care of our employees.  LISD need leaders that are experienced, fiscally conservative and not afraid to make the tough decisions. Every part of our district is unique.  Our students are all different.  We have to adapt our schools, teaching skills, environment and atmosphere to fit our students needs to that they can achieve and do the best of their abilities.  We have to be open to changes. We must stay on top of the aging buildings in the district.  LISD is conducting a facility review currently and has a facility assessment committee to review the findings.

Website: www.facebook.com/kathyduke4lisd

Dr. June Ehinger

Age: 65

City/Town of Residence: Lewisville

Current Occupation:  Retired Educator

Education: Bachelors – University of Montana; Masters – Tennessee Technological University; Doctorate – University of Tulsa

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong?  Catherine of Siena Catholic Church. Candidate for LISD Board of Trustees, Place 1, Kappa Delta Pi, Education Honary. Previously active in Jr. Womens’ Club, President, sand Springs Womens Chamber.  Judged area Science Fairs, judge for high school speech and debate  competitions.  Room mother and PTA officer during children’s school years.  Tutored reading and math for elementary students in Oklahoma City.  Officer in Oklahoma Technology Administrators and Oklahoma Computer Using Educators.  Resume review and interview counseling for potential superintendents; Grant Reader for Sand Springs School Foundation,  21st Century Grants, and Technology Trust Grants (Oklahoma) .

Why should you be elected? Lewisville is a thriving, dynamic district.  I want to be part of the growth and help maintain the excellence that has attracted so many newcomers.  I am an experienced educator who has served in various capacities which has broadened my perspective and enabled me to recognize, implement, and evaluate best practices in other schools. My servant leadership style enables me to be responsive to the needs of all students and all community voices.  I bring a fair, fresh approach to finding solutions to problems and innovative ideas to enhance the learning process.

What are the main challenges facing your district and how would you resolve them?  Every student must have the opportunity to develop the necessary skills and knowledge to lead productive and enriched lives. Technology poses a challenge instructionally and administrative to enhance the learning process, eliminate the duplication of efforts, and conserve resources. Staff must have access to up to date hardware and software, and receive adequate training to utilize these tools. We must train students to recognize the warning signs of suicide, bullying, and violence. Students are faced with societal challenges including drugs, alcohol and teen pregnancy. We must empower students to respect themselves and others, and be proactive members of the school community when they encounter negative behavior and influences. Students with Limited English Proficiency pose a challenge to the District. They require special services in the form of interpreters, remediation and often social services. With diminished resources it will be a challenge to attract and retain excellent teachers for LISD. The cost of Fringe benefits, if not covered by the district, will reduce the usable salary of teachers and erode any salary increase. Neighboring districts will attract our best teachers by offering superior salary packages.

Website: www.votejune.com

Paige Shoven

Age: 35

City/Town of Residence: Lewisville

Current Occupation: Manager, Optician

Education: Associates Degree

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? Southern Baptist, PTA, Golden Triangle Parliamentarians, Mothers and More

Why should you be elected? I should be elected to office because I am the candidate that has advocated for all the children of LISD for the past 6 years. I know the issues of the district, I have listened to both the community and the administration and I will be the liaison between the two.

What are the main challenges facing your district and how would you resolve them? Finances are the immediate challenge facing LISD. In these financial times, LISD must use every dollar as efficiently and effectively as possible. Balancing the budget with less money is never easy. I will strive to ensure our children do not suffer because of the choices adults have made for them. I understand student success only comes with great teachers. When the budget is presented, I will look at each line item and consider the children first before I approve any reductions. The new alignment of central administration has already reorganized immediate efficiencies in its initial reorganization. I feel that there are even more efficiencies that can be reorganized district wide that would allow for a more sound financial situation. Our communities are divided. I will work to build bridges that will unite all the communities of the LISD family. I see a future where we have 5 outstanding high schools and feeder patterns that our whole district is proud of. I will work to provide positive leaders for our children. I will respect all areas of our district and I will encourage our community to do the same.

Website: www.paigeshoven.com

Lewisville ISD – Place 2

Cornel Bekker

Age: 41

City/Town of Residence: Lewisville

Current Occupation: The best one in the world: Mother

Education: Bachelors of Optometry. I earned a degree in optometry in South Africa and practice and managed a busy optometric office. I specialized in vision therapy for children and teens with reading and coordination deficiencies as well as sports vision.

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? First Baptist Church, Cub/Boy scouts of America

Why should you be elected? I have a passion for all our kids. As a parent, we all want the same for our kids, the very best education, the very best of everything! All our parents should have a voice, all of our children should be treated equally, whether they have special needs and impairments, are gifted or fall in any their subgroup in our district. I am a foreign born American who is multi-lingual. I come from a very diverse background and have a very clear understanding of diversity, bi- and multi-linguism and the benefits and challenges that accompany it. I am fiscally conservative and believe we need to assure that each and every dollar spent is maximized for the benefit of our children.

What are the main challenges facing your district and how would you resolve them? Funding and budget cuts. Making sure every program that we have is worth the money we spent on it and see were these programs can be optimize for maximum benefit to students. Educating children for a future in which we do not even understand the job market yet, but at the same time teaching them the basics. We need the best educators to step up to the challenge and retain these teachers. Though salaries are the biggest expense, we need to motivate and reward teachers if they perform above and beyond expectations. Getting parents involved and giving them a voice. If parents are involved, it adds a benefit equal to $1000 in funding to students.

Trisha Sheffield

Age: 43

City/Town of Residence: Lewisville

Current Occupation: Freelance copywriter

Education: I hold a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Marketing and Management from Texas A&M University.  I also completed teacher education coursework and training at the University of Texas at Dallas.

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? I am an active member of First Baptist Church Carrollton.  Since my children have been in school, my volunteer activity and involvement has centered on the local schools and district. Currently, I am involved in the following: LISD Strategic Design Team (2011-2012); Hebron High School PTSA Membership Chairperson (2011-2012), also chair of the HHS PTSA Nominating Committee and Texas PTA Life Member Committee; Hebron High School Choir Booster Club Freshman Representative (2011-2012); Hebron High School Basketball Booster Club Member & Volunteer (2011-2012); Killian Middle School PTA Volunteer Chairperson (2011-2012)

Why should you be elected? As a former teacher, my classroom experience enables me to understand curriculum, classroom dynamics, and the challenges students and teachers face. Having worked outside the classroom in LISD in areas offering direct support to student success and classroom excellence, I understand the varying needs of our diverse populations.  I recognize the realities of budgetary constraints and have worked under them but also have unique, experiential insight into supplemental funding opportunities. As a highly engaged parent with children in the schools right now, I am excited about LISD’s future direction and have a vested interest in its success.

What are the main challenges facing your district and how would you resolve them? We always will have challenges, but as long as we have a school board that maintains transparency and integrity, refuses to fall prey to personal agenda, and continues to develop open lines of communication with the community, we can work together to find solutions that serve the best interest of ALL students. With a district that covers 127 square miles and serves 13 communities, the challenges in each community and feeder differ.  However, the one challenge touching each of us is the broken state of school finance.  While resolving the issue must come from our state representatives, individually, and as a board, we can do our part to help educate, inform and elect legislators who put a priority on repairing the system.  Of course, that doesn’t mean we sit and wait for the problem to be solved.  We need to makes cuts, where possible, without jeopardizing the classroom and curriculum, while proactively seeking alternate funding solutions that allow us to retain and strengthen effective programming.  I feel we only have scratched the surface in building partnerships with our business community and that we underutilize the one organization that exists solely to support our local schools – the Lewisville ISD Education Foundation.

Website: www.sheffieldforlisd.com

Vernell Gregg

Age:  70

City/Town of Residence: Flower Mound

Current Occupation: Retired Educator

Education: Bachelor of Science in Education; Master of Arts in Professional Development; Currently in a Doctoral Program in Family Studies at Texas Woman’s University ( only two classes needed before completing coursework)

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong?  Macedonia Ministries; Lewisville Lake Symphony Board of Directors; Chair Emeritus, MLK Commemoration Committee; Tau Rho Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.; Lewisville Area Retired School Personnel Association; North DFW Chapter of Military Officers Association of America and Concerned Citizens and African American Parents

Why should you be re-elected? My top four reasons I should be re-elected are: I have worked diligently with emphasis on promoting more Pre-AP and AP classes for all students to help close the achievement gap and help students become better prepared for success in future learning; as a 2011 graduate of Leadership TASB, with a designation of  Master Trustee, (Texas Association of School Boards) the knowledge gained during this year-long class will be beneficial to the district; to keep the continuity as the district works on implementing its new Strategic Design and continue my advocacy for all students, educators and the community, while being fiscally responsible.

What are the main challenges facing your district and how would you resolve them? Although funding will be a challenge, I think we are prepared to weather this storm.  However, LISD has a new strategic design that members from the community,  LISD staff  and students have been working on since the fall.  After approval from the board, the implementation should begin in the 2012-13 school year.  More than 3,000 people attended summits or completed a survey expressing their views on what they wanted for the students of LISD.  It was an honor serving on the Strategic Design Team and I am proud of what our community accomplished.  The team worked for many hours, totally agreeing on core beliefs, a vision, a mission and goals for the district.  In addition to the Strategic Design Team, we had Focus Groups and Action Teams working on this new design.  While it was a great process, change is often difficult to implement and this might present challenges.  I want to be on the board to make sure that our educators know that I will do everything that I can to minimize our challenges while embarking on this new design.

Website: www.vernellgregg.com

 

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