Early voting begins on April 29 for the May 11 municipal and school board elections across southern Denton County. 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:
In the Lewisville ISD, all three board of trustee seats will be contested.
Lewisville resident Paige Shoven will face off against Dr. Mark Welding of Highland Village for the Place 3 seat that was left vacant last year with the resignation of Jeff Knapp. Shoven ran unsuccessfully for Place 1 on the school board last May.
Flower Mound resident Kris Vaughn and Jared Brueckner of The Colony filed to run for the Place 4 seat, which will be vacated by Julie Foughty, who announced that she will not run again.
Over in Place 5, Trustee Brenda Latham is being challenged for a second term by Flower Mound resident Ryan Collinsworth.
Lewisville ISD – Place 3:
City/Town of Residence: Lewisville
Current Occupation: Business Manager, optician
Education: Kilgore College and TWU with studies in Interdisciplinary studies
To what civic and religious organizations do you belong? I am an active member of Huffines and Lakeland PTA, I volunteer with LISD Council of PTAs, Area 16 PTA and Texas State PTA. I volunteer on the LISD Facilities committee. I have volunteered with Heavenly Supply Depot, Communities in Schools, Lewisville Education Foundation, and Christian Community Action. I am a member at Northview Baptist Church and I also participate with the Golden Triangles Parliamentarians group.
Why should you be elected? As a parent of two LISD children, I have a vested interest in the well being of our schools. I have a true desire to ensure all our students achieve the future they desire. Since 2007, I have attended school board meetings, followed board policy and LISD finances. I have done my homework on the happenings in the district. I’m knowledgeable of the issues facing the district and I’m eager to be a part of the team to move LISD from where we are today to where we hope to be in the future.
What are the main challenges facing your district and how would you resolve them? Without local control, most Texas schools are facing similar challenges with finances and testing. On a local level, LISD is facing the challenges of being a leader in the state for education reform. We are working to rezone our schools to realign with our changing populations to ensure our neighborhood schools are used at capacity while maintaining the buildings we currently occupy. We are moving our schools into 21st century learning by upgrading and adding technology at a quick pace. I hope to address these issues in a positive manner by being a true liaison between the community and the administration.
Address of your candidate website and/or Facebook page: www.paige.shoven.com; www.facebook.com/PaigeShovenforLISD
Dr. Mark Welding
City/Town of Residence: Highland Village
Current Occupation: Optometrist and owner of Welding Eyecare in Highland Village
Education: Iowa State University – Bachelor’s of Business Degree, University of Houston School of Optometry – Doctor of Optometry
To what civic and religious organizations do you belong? Flower Mound Rotary Club, Grace Community Assembly of God, Member of LISD Bond Oversight Committee, Board Chairman of the LISD Student Health Advisory Council
Why should you be elected? My experience as a business owner gives me a different perspective on education. For the past year, I have attended every school board meeting and I currently serve on the Lewisville ISD Bond Oversight Committee, both of which have served to educate me thoroughly on the issues facing this district. I am a fair and open-minded person who seeks to ensure that every child in LISD is given the same opportunities and is well-equipped when they graduate to continue to college or vocational school.
What are the main challenges facing your district and how would you resolve them? One of the most important issues facing our district is funding. LISD continues to be a fast-growing district and getting the issues resolved with the funding from the state is critical to our success and our future. Another challenge our district faces is ensuring that all students, no matter their background, receive the same high-quality education. We need to ensure our teachers have the flexibility to adapt to our diverse student population.
Address of your candidate website and/or Facebook page: www.MarkWelding4LISD.com; www.facebook.com/DrMarkWelding
Lewisville ISD – Place 4:
City/Town of Residence: The Colony
Current Occupation: Vice President of Business Development, National Math + Science Initiative
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Weber State University
To what civic and religious organizations do you belong? Varsity Coach, Boy Scouts of America
Why should you be elected? Desire to serve matters, but everyone who runs for school board desires to serve. At the end of the day school board members make decisions using their experience as a guide. What makes me unique is my experience. In my career I work intimately with hundreds of school districts from coast to coast and intend to bring the best practices and knowledge of what makes great school districts to this appointment.
What are the main challenges facing your district and how would you resolve them? LISD is facing financial issues, zoning issues, and a changing demographic. We must be vigilant in keeping local control of our district and making decisions that are the best for our kids. Allowing outside entities to influence or make decisions for our school district is harmful. We must remain strong and independent.
Address of your candidate website and/or Facebook page: Facebook: Jared Brueckner for LISD School Board
City/Town of Residence: Flower Mound
Current Occupation: Community Activist – Not employed outside the home
Education: Des Moines Area Community College – Ankeny, Iowa, Administrative Secretarial Diploma – 1986; Central College – Pella, Iowa, B.A. Business Management – 1990
To what civic and religious organizations do you belong? Flower Mound HS PTSA, Star Spangled PTA, Lamb of God Lutheran Church
Why should you be elected? A decade of volunteering in LISD has demonstrated my long-term advocacy for all children. I am a member of the LISD Strategic Design Team, INSIDE LISD graduate and Mentor for the last nine years with CISNT. Other leadership roles include LISD Council of PTAs President, Texas PTA Board Member and a National PTA committee member. I co-founded the group Speak Up for Texas Public Schools to inform citizens about education advocacy. As a highly-engaged parent volunteer of two LISD students, I spend quality time in our schools and remain aware of the educational climate in the district.
What are the main challenges facing your town or district, and how would you resolve them? Every school district faces challenges regarding decreased education funding and the cost/impact of high-stakes testing. In both cases, Austin legislators are hearing from outraged parents around the state demanding corrective action in this legislative session. LISD’s state funding was reduced by $54 million last session. I will champion the effort to remain fiscally prudent with state funds allocated to LISD without jeopardizing the students’ opportunities to thrive. The mandate on public schools to administer STAAR tests puts a burden on our district in several ways – financially through staff time involved, loss of instruction opportunities for non-test-material and creation of students who are learning to be test takers rather than critical thinkers. My grassroots background will help me challenge the district to continue communication efforts ensuring we have an informed community aware of how state mandates impact our budget and teaching. Empowered citizens can then speak up for our students. As a trustee and member of the 26-person Strategic Design team since it was formed in 2011, I have a unique perspective and will be diligent in my role to make sure that our community is aware of how the strategic design has transformed our district.
Address of your candidate website and/or Facebook page: www.KrisVaughnForLISD.com; Facebook: Kris Vaughn for LISD Place 4
Lewisville ISD – Place 5:
City/Town of Residence: Flower Mound
Current Occupation: Real Estate Broker
Education: Associate of Science and currently enrolling in University of North Texas
To what civic and religious organizations do you belong? First Baptist Church of Lewisville, Lewisville Chamber, Greater Lewisville Association of Realtors, Greater Denton Wise Association of Realtors, Texas Association of Realtors
Why should you be elected? After many years in the district and selling homes to families who will be served by LISD, I have a vested interest in the integrity of the LISD community. I strongly believe that LISD needs positive leadership and forward thinking to implement a plan that is beneficial for all communities. The school board does not have any room for politics or personal agendas. The only agenda anyone should have is serving the students, communities, teachers and staff that they are elected to serve. Having a servant’s heart and doing what is right for the students, teachers and the taxpayers is part of my duty as a board member. As a proven leader, I look forward to creating a positive impact on financial stewardship and uniting communities.
What are the main challenges facing your district and how would you resolve them? One of the main challenges our district is facing has to do with our finances. My vision is to see the LISD School Board implementing the same standards that a board of directors would if they were running a successful Fortune 500 Company. In this regard, there would be a stronger method of checks and balances. This is one of my strengths due to my business background in running companies with over two hundred million dollars in sales. My desire is to give back to my community by using this knowledge to continue to shape our district financially so that it can best benefit the students, faculty and taxpayers. I believe that our district needs better financial transparency. I want people to find financial information on the website easily instead of having to request financial statements and decisions. This information should be up to date on our website and changes made to the budget should also be readily available. We must be good stewards of our taxpayer’s money. If funds need to be reallocated to better serve our district, then our community should know what those changes entail with our budget. The School Board acts as a voice for all people in our community. It is our job to speak for them as if they were sitting in with us and giving their thoughts and opinions on what would help benefit the current/future students and staff. If the taxpayers are up to date and feel that we are keeping not only LISD but also those who it affects in mind, they will support and understand our position.
Address of your candidate website and/or Facebook page: Facebook: Ryan Collinsworth for LISD School Board
Brenda Latham (I)
City/Town of Residence: Lewisville
Current Occupation: VP, Sr. Project Manager – Citi Bank, Campbell Grinding & Machine – Co-Owner, Latham Property Investments – Co-Owner
Education: Graduate of Lewisville High School in 1986; Courses in Business Information Systems at North Central Texas College and Northlake College
To what civic and religious organizations do you belong? In addition to my position on the LISD school board, I am an active member in several LISD PTA organizations, serve on the Advisory Board for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Denton County and am an active member of the Denton County Community Justice Council. Active members at Northview Baptist Church in Lewisville.
Why should you be re-elected? I spent a year attending LISD board meetings and doing research on the position before I ran for this office in 2010. I think I have proven to make sound fiscal resolutions to the issues and have worked with the communities served by LISD for the best interest of all students and those serving on the front lines, our teachers. I do not take this lightly nor am I doing this for personal gain. I have a passion for the students and teachers of LISD.
What are the main challenges facing your district and how would you resolve them? Education finance continues to be the elephant in the room. Equally as troubling is the subject of standardized testing vs. meaningful assessment. Texas should require no more than two or three End of Course (EOC) tests of a student for graduation. Texas currently requires its students to pass 25 EOC tests in order to graduate. This is more than any other state requires. Only two of these tests are considered in college acceptance, English III and Algebra II. Texas has spent over 1 BILLION dollars, all paid to one company (Pearson), on producing and grading standardized tests. This number does not include money spent on administration and teacher training expenses paid by each district. Because teachers are no longer able to teach in depth lessons and students are no longer able to increase their creative and critical thinking skills, the standardized test scores as well as ACT and SAT scores are flattening. We have allowed the state to force us into teaching to the test and it does not work. The achievement gap has not narrowed but stayed the same. We need to have meaningful assessment, not standardized tests that allow for large profits by one company.
Address of your candidate website and/or Facebook page: www.Latham4LISD.com; www.facebook.com/Latham4LISD
The Cross Timbers Gazette will host a Candidate’s Forum on Sat., April 20, at 6 p.m. at Flower Mound Town Hall for Flower Mound Town Council and LISD Board of Trustee candidates. The forum will be recorded and rebroadcast on FMTV through the election season.