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Town needs experienced leadership

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Since my challenger, Tamiko Ryan, filed to run against me in the upcoming election for Town Council, I’ve heard several people comment that experience really doesn’t matter.  Enthusiasm and a love of our community is enough.  While this is a nice thought, it just isn’t realistic. Flower Mound is the home to over 67,000 people and experienced leadership is what we need.

My two years on Flower Mound’s Planning and Zoning Commission and three years serving as a Council Member have taught me the value of carefully researching ideas before presenting them to residents.  Our citizens need to know Council Members can be counted on to have a good understanding of issues and are capable of implementing their ideas.

For example, it was most likely inexperience talking when Ms. Ryan recently stated in the Flower Mound Leader that she “wants Flower Mound to have a viable tax structure so we can break away from LISD”. The process of establishing our own school district does not start with the Flower Mound Town Council, for which she is seeking office. According to the Education Code of Texas, the process is long and difficult and starts with the County Commissioners of Denton and Tarrant County and the four school districts operating in Flower Mound (Lewisville, Argyle, Denton and Northwest).  It requires an election where the majority of at least 25 percent of all voters in the impacted school districts agree to release Flower Mound.

In addition, launching a new school district is extremely costly.  The costs associated with establishing a Flower Mound school district would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  It is also foreseeable that the tax rate for a new school district would need to be higher than the current LISD rate of $1.43, in order to service the debt and fund operating costs.

While it is true that Flower Mound’s tax base contributes significantly to LISD, we are fortunate to be part of an extraordinary school district that shares the costs with neighboring communities. We also need to ask ourselves if a new Flower Mound School District would have the same TEA ratings, bond ratings and strong reputation.

You frequently hear people in Flower Mound say they moved here for the excellent schools, which are part of the Lewisville Independent School District.   As a resident, I’m not willing to trade our children’s superb education for the immediate addition of a massive amount of debt, the maximum tax collection rate allowed, and the other uncertainties that come with starting a new district.
Most importantly, Ms. Ryan and the residents of Flower Mound need to understand that even if we were successful in starting our own school district, that the new district would not take direction from the Town Council.  It would still have its own Board of Trustees that would operate independently.  

I understand that one of Ms. Ryan’s election platforms is based on the recent rezoning issues.  She has stated in her editorial that this is one of the driving forces behind her decision to enter the Town Council race. However, being a member of Town Council gives you no authority over a school district whether it is LISD or our own.

I’ve not met Ms. Ryan yet, but those that know her say she is a wonderful person with a passion for helping Flower Mound to be the best it can be.  I just wish she would have spoken to even one Council Member before deciding that running for Town Council could help her resolve her concerns about LISD.  Any one of us could have helped her understand this is just not the case.  Pursuing a seat on the LISD Board of Trustees is the better path for working on issues such as the school rezoning.

Jean Levenick
Flower Mound Town Council, Place 5
Flower Mound, TX

 

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