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Meet The Candidates: Lewisville ISD

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Voters in the Lewisville ISD can go to the polls starting Monday to choose school board trustees in Place 6 and Place 7.

Kristi Hassett, Mary Smith and Krista Stone are running for the Place 6 seat currently held by Mike McDaniel, who is not running for re-election.

Tracy Scott Miller is challenging longtime trustee Carol Kyer in Place 7.

Early voting for the May 10 election begins on Monday, April 28, and runs through Tuesday, May 6. Visit www.votedenton.com or call 940-349-3200 for more information.

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:

Lewisville ISD – Place 6:

Kristi Hassett

Age: 44

City/Town of Residence: Flower Mound

Current Occupation:
Community Volunteer

Education:
Within LISD: Timbercreek Elementary, Milliken Middle school and graduated in the charter class of Marcus High School,  BBA from UNT with a concentration in Strategic Management

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? PTA, Boy Scouts

Why should you be elected? I am uniquely qualified because I have been directly involved with current education issues and have knowledge of state and federal mandates. I am an advocate for education and our children at the local level by taking my concerns directly to the administration as well as participating in district committees. I have testified at the state level in the House and Senate Education Committees for a reduction of the burdens of excessive testing and for local control. I want to advocate for all students within LISD.  I want to ensure new district initiatives have an effective way to measure their success. I want to ensure resources are used in the best manner to educate our children.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? The ability to effectively educate all students is an educational challenge. Districts are under state and federal testing mandates. These mandates steer the curriculum and the time tables within the district. If the district were to be able to loosen the mandates by effective lobbying of our legislature, the district would have more time to develop rich, meaningful learning for all of its students. Teachers could use more time for gifted students to delve deeper, more time for special education students to develop solid understanding and more time for regular students to participate in real world learning applications. The district is facing financial challenges. Of the funding the legislature cut in 2011, LISD received $12 million less compared to other districts in our area. With the ever shrinking budget and a district that continues to grow, LISD must continue to hire/retain excellent teachers. I would contact our state officials to seek the funds we are lacking. Technology is challenging in terms of how to successfully use it as a tool for in-depth learning as well as ensuring our teaching staff has ample instruction on how to implement. I would like the district to have concrete examples of how technology can be used in each subject area.

Address of your candidate website and/or Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Hassett4LISD

Mary Smith

Age: 46

City/Town of Residence: Lewisville

Current Occupation:
Bus driver- Durham School Services for LISD

Education: B.A Biblical Theology, Masters of Arts in Christian Ministry (Anticipated 2016)

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? New Beginnings Baptist Church, Lewisville City Council: Lewisville Housing Finance Corporation Place 4

Why should you be elected? Citizens should vote for me because I want to create strategies that will allow parents and teachers to be involved in the conversations regarding the school district. I am fully aware that every parent and teacher are important in the education growth of our students. My thought process while on the board will always be in the mindset of a parent and supportive of our teachers. I will always see the bigger picture, the success of our students.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? 1).Technology – I want to take a look at our overall strategy to engage students with technology. We need to bring in the parents and teachers in on the strategy for implementing technology in the curriculum. Technology should be supplemental to the curriculum delivered by the teachers.  2.) Parents- I want to take a deeper dive into ways the school district can better engage the parents of LISD. If majority of the parents cannot attend board meetings, then we need to find alternative ways to deliver the information to the missing parents. We, as a LISD community, need to seek out ways to make sure all parents are aware of the conversations happening in their district.  3.) Teachers- As an elected school board member, I want to advocate that teachers are more involved in the conversation and decision making process. I believe that including teachers will give the board and community a different perspective that could have been overlooked otherwise.

Address of your candidate website and/or Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/MarySmithPlace6

Krista Stone

Age: 49

City/Town of Residence: Flower Mound

Current Occupation: Healthcare Management/Entrepreneur

Education: Bachelor of Science in Education – The University of Texas, Austin, TX and Master of Healthcare Administration, The George Washington University, Washington, DC

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? My family attends church at Trietsch Memorial United Methodist Church.

Why should you be elected? After earning an education degree, I became a classroom teacher before transitioning into another public service industry – healthcare. During my 25+ years experience, I have worked for several major healthcare systems in various capacities.  I currently co-own a healthcare business where I serve as Chief Operating Officer.  My expertise and knowledge can easily be applied to different industries and include strategic planning, business and service development, start-ups, partnerships, operations and regulation.  I offer a new perspective and am a strong advocate of parent and community involvement.  I am hopeful you will allow me to bring your voices to the LISD Board table.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? The heart of every community begins in the local homes and schools. Minimizing State and Federal involvement in our local education system not only allows for parents and schools to shape the future of their own precious children, but also operationally and fiscally improves efficiency and accountability.  Engaging parents, though probably one of the most difficult challenges, is also one of the most critical to the success of any local education system.  Board access, accountability and transparency are imperative for that success. LISD’s investment in technology has enhanced student learning; however, it remains only one of many tools available.  I firmly believe any tool is meaningless to the success of educating our children without investing in our schools’ most important asset – our teachers.  There may be room for additional teacher input and latitude with regard to tools and techniques used to benefit the individual student needs in the classroom. HB 5 takes a step toward meeting those individual needs, while also reducing standardized testing to some degree. Having some merit, these Statewide tests seem to result in lowering standards to portray higher levels of performance.  We have an opportunity here to create additional accountability measures for higher levels of performance for students, teachers and schools alike.

Address of your candidate website and/or Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vote4kstone/1466079406957170

Lewisville ISD – Place 7:

Carol Kyer (I)

Age: 49

City/Town of Residence: Flower Mound

Current Occupation: Office Manager

Education: Graduated from Shawsheen Valley Technical High School with Data Processing Certificate, some college.

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong? St. Philips Catholic Church, United Way of Denton County Board of Directors, Communities in Schools of North Texas Advisory Council, North Texas Area Association of School Boards, Denton County Citizens Committee on Mental Health

Why should you be re-elected? For LISD to continue to be a light house school district we need to have experienced school board members that continue to fight for and support our students. I have 15 years of School Board experience and over 420 hours of certified school board training hours that will aid in the guidance of LISD. My knowledge and contacts will help our school district continue to achieve the highest levels in public education. I have been honored to serve as a school board member for LISD and wish to continue this wonderful journey.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? Finances have been and will continue to be the number one challenge for all school districts. We want to provide the best for our students to be able to succeed and compete on the global arena. This requires cutting edge technology, teachers who feel validated, outstanding training for all our employees, supplies that help our students learn, facilities that are safe, excellent communications with parents,  and students that are not hungry.  Changes in the demographics provide challenges with LISD, too. LISD is bisected by Highway 35E and located close to DFW Airport; this means that our demographics will always be changing. We need to improve communications with our non-speaking households. Providing information to these parents in their native language will make their students successful because the parents will know what resources are available for their children. Whether a student lives in a gated community or doesn’t know where they are sleeping tonight, it is important that we make every resource we have available to every student in order to make them successful.

Address of your candidate website and/or Facebook Page: kyerforlisd.com, https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carol-Kyer-Lewisville-ISD-Board-of-Trustees-Place-7/149448828431041

Tracy Scott Miller

Age: 49

City/Town of Residence: Highland Village

Current Occupation: I am a Client Partner for a leading business transformation company where I service fortune 100 technology and telecommunications companies.  My job is a global position where I have had the opportunity to engage the global workforce and gain an appreciation for, and understanding of,  the local and global  high performance jobs (vocational or college degreed) that we are preparing LISD students to enter. I started my career at IBM as a System Engineer.  Following IBM I worked for and managed business unit budgets for Fujiutsu Consulting, Amdocs (the leading technology company in Israel), BearingPoint, and Convergys, with budgets close to $500 Million Dollars.

Education: BA, Computer Information Science from Judson University in Elgin, Illinois,  with studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and the Yale School of Management.

To what religious and civic organizations do you belong?
As an Eagle Scout, I take to heart my childhood pledge of life-long service to others. I currently volunteer, teach, and mentor for Junior Achievement Dallas.  Recently I completed my new volunteer training for Communities in School of North Texas, and will strive to help LISD teens who are facing homelessness.  Our family became intimately and personally familiar with the unexpected ways that teens can suddenly find themselves with no permanent address and dwindling options.  I am a member of the Highland Village Rotary Club, Marcus High School PTSA, Lewisville Area Republican Club, and the Flower Mound Area Republican Club.  My family and I are members of The Village Church in Flower Mound.  I have been, and continue to be, involved in global missions in China, India, and Europe. I am also proud to have served on the Double Oak Town Council for 11 years (2002-2013) as Mayor Pro Tem, Deputy Mayor Pro Tem, Town Treasurer, and Deputy Town Treasurer.

Why should you be elected? I bring a level of knowledge and working experience in the fields of technology and finance in both public service and the global workforce.   I also have a strong understanding of the local, state, national, and global education issues impacting our students, families, teachers, and our competitiveness in the global market place.  I am a quick study and do a lot of homework.  I am naturally inquisitive and I will ask the questions in public that most families and taxpayers want to know from our board and our district.  I have no obligations or allegiances to the existing board members, and therefore can maintain my independence and objectivity.  I will be a very active participant in the board’s decisions and their actions publically and privately (where allowed by law.)  I have been trained in the Texas Public Funds Investment Act and have many hours of training in the Texas Open Meetings Act.  I believe the district and the superintendent work for the elected Board of Trustees.  Not the other way around.  The superintendent, while he should be respected and cared for, is not an equal member of the elected Board of Trustees.  It is the board’s responsibility to set district policy and ensure that the district aligns with the values of the community. I believe I bring the right type of leadership and dynamic energy to ensure that LISD continues to improve and transform.  LISD has put itself in the spotlight and scrutiny of digital learning; hence we need new leadership on our school board with deeper technology and finance experience.   I bring integrity, leadership, and the technology experience necessary to carry forward the traditions of LISD while navigating the new frontier of digital learning and curriculum design/integration.

What are the main challenges facing your town/district, and how would you resolve them? I’m advocating a much more transparent perspective on how decisions are made in this district.  Whereas Strategic Design did engage the community, community involvement now is only about optics.  I’m going to be very bullish that we put in place “quantifiable and measureable” targets for Strategic Design, and that we measure success and modify our course based on student Achievement, classroom performance and teacher/student and parent/care giver morale in the district.  Some will tell you that our biggest challenge is money.  It is true that we have spent bond money excessively in areas such as technology ($40M over) and unforeseen renovations (at least $100M over) based on poor planning. This will likely force us to consider another bond election going forward to care for growth in the East side.  Because we are still sitting on $140M of cash in our Fund Balance, operating cash is NOT our issue.  NOTE: numbers provided by LISD at INSIDE LISD at Peter’s Colony on January 16, 2014. However, we have a bigger issue that hits at the heart of our children, parents, and teachers.  LISD has put us under the scrutiny of digital learning, instructional technology, curriculum redesign, and student and teacher engagement. Strategic Design, while well intended and well participated, has yet to show any demonstrable and broad improvements in student achievement and classroom performance.  Yes, we have some case studies around PBL (project based learning) and instructional technology, but they are pockets rather than norms. After 3 years of Strategic Design, it begs the question how are we doing?  Well, the recent Gallup Poll tells us that our teacher engagement level is average compared to national results, and has improved by only 3% since 2011.  More alarming is that 45% of our students are not engaged according to the same survey.  What if this is one of your student’s teachers?  What if this is one of your children, grandchildren or neighbors? I believe we need to refocus on the fundamentals.  I’m not challenging Strategic Design or  the use of technology (1:X),  but I am advocating a better alignment between the use of technology, curriculum development, and pedagogy (the art, science, or profession of teaching) as well as setting the proper expectation for adoption by our teachers, students, and families. I think the pure definition of Morale applies here:  “the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand.”

Address of your candidate website and/or Facebook Page: www.tracyscottmiller.com, www.facebook.com/TSMiller4LISD

The Cross Timbers Gazette sponsored a Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees Candidate Forum on April 16 at 7 p.m. at Flower Mound Town Hall. Watch the forum here.

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