Lewisville ISD voters can go to the polls starting this Monday in a special election to choose a school board trustee to fill the remainder of the term in Place 3.
Three candidates are running for the open Place 3 seat vacated in August by Dr. Mark Welding: Flower Mound resident Angie Cox, Tracy Scott Miller of Highland Village, and Paige Shoven of Lewisville.
Early voting runs through Nov. 1 at a number of locations in Denton County. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at your designated polling place. Visit www.votedenton.com or call 940-349-3200 for information.
Here is a look at the three candidates:
Cox, 43, is owner of Cox Cleaning and Vice President/Escrow Officer for Allegiance Title, serves on the both LISD Education Foundation board and LSD Bond Oversight Committee.
She was named Citizen of the Year for the Flower Mound Chamber of Commerce in 2008 and ran unsuccessfully for Flower Mound Town Council in 2009.
Cox said that she has attended several LISD board meetings, as well as forums and LISD Bond Oversight Committee meetings.
Among her service activities, she lists the following organizations: President of the Lake Forest HOA; President of the Women of Flower Mound; President of the Friends of the Flower Mound Library; Secretary for Lewisville Education Foundation; Board member for Keep Flower Mound Beautiful; Board member for Children’s Advocacy Center; Member of baseball and basketball booster clubs; PTA member and volunteer; Mentor with Communities and schools; Served on PALS board for the Town of Flower Mound and currently on P&Z Commission; YMSL league; member of Flower Mound and Lewisville Chamber of Commerce; and volunteered for several other local non-profits.
She attended Webber Township High School and received a Bachelor Degree in Science with Business minor from the University of North Texas.
“As a business owner I understand the financial end of running a business,” said Cox. “At Allegiance Title I work with legal documents and facilitate real estate transactions which requires good communication skills, organization and attention to detail.”
Cox has four children in the district. Two attend Flower Mound High School, one attends McKamy and one attends Liberty Elementary School.
Tracy Scott Miller
Miller, 49, Client Partner/Executive Director for Convergys Customer Management Group, is a former Double Oak resident who served five terms on their town council.
He held positions on the Double Oak Town Council such as Mayor Pro-Tem, Deputy Mayor Pro-Tem, Treasurer, and Deputy Treasurer. In addition, he started the Double Oak Citizens Commission and led the effort to screen and interview 70-candidates for Police Chief. He also led the Storm Water Runoff Committee for Double Oak as mandated by TCEQ.
Miller attended Lena-Winslow High School in Lena, Ill. He received a BA Degree in Computer Information Science from Judson College (now Judson University) in Elgin, Ill. He also attended Dallas Theological Seminary in 1993, as well as IBM’s management leadership school at Harvard and a special executive program offered by the Yale School of Management in 2008.
He is an Eagle Scout and was trained in Texas Council of Governments Public Funds Investment Act.
Miller said that although he has been able to attend only two LISD meetings due to conflicts with Double Oak Town Council meetings, he has read all the minutes from the LISD Bond Committee and board meetings, as well as watched all the videos– with the exception of those not posted due to technology issues.
His career has always been with technology companies specializing in the communications and media industry. He began as a system engineer and moved in to management several years later.
“My business experience covers four key areas that I think complement the existing board and district staff: I understand the differences between capital expenditures and operational expenditures; hiring, equipping, enabling and retaining a productive workforce is critical of my role and my ability to be success; in addition to my Computer Science Degree with a minor in Business, I have worked for IBM, various multinationals and small start ups. Our schools should utilize strong standards that include availability and access [to technology] at equal performance to kids who don’t have access in their homes. I believe I can bring value to the district staff in this area in addition to the benefit to our kids, teachers and district IT staff; and I have experience managing budgets equal to and greater than that of the district,” said Miller.
He has served on several booster clubs, coached numerous soccer teams, was a scout leader and continues to mentor young teens/college-aged boys. He has worked in youth ministry and small-group leadership for 26-years and was a youth pastor intern. He was also on the Twin Lakes Owners Association for 10 years and president for two years. He has taught internationally for non-profits, mentoring business leaders in China and India, as well as special mission trips to China, India and Germany.
“Both of our kids grew up in the district starting at Flower Mound Elementary to Marcus,” said Miller. “Our daughter graduated from Marcus in 2012 and our son attended Marcus and now attends the Media Arts Academy in Flower Mound to prepare for a career in music production and audio engineering.”
Shoven, 36, an Optical Manager for JCP Optical in Frisco, ran for the Place 3 seat in May and lost to Mark Welding by just 173 votes. She also ran for the Place 1 school board seat in May 2012.
She has attended 11 regular meetings during the past year, as well as special meetings for budget, facilities and rezoning.
Her education-related experience includes student and substitute teaching, with the intention of teaching middle school math. However, she realized she wouldn’t be able to keep her opinions, paycheck and children tied so close together.
“It would not be good for my family,” said Shoven. “Having worked in the optical industry all through college, I took a management position where I can do the work I love and have flexibility to volunteer in my children’s schools.”
Among her many volunteer activities, she lists: Mothers and More; Lakeland, Huffines, LHS, LISD, Area 16, State PTA; Golden Triangle Parliamentarians; Facilities Committee, Inside LISD; Heavenly Supply Depot; Lewisville Education Foundation; Christian Community Action; Save Texas Schools; Lions Club Sight Programs; and Prevent Blindness America.
She attended Longview High School in Longview Texas; Kilgore College from 1995-98 in general studies; and TWU from 1998-2000 studying interdisciplinary studies.
“As a business manager I am responsible for budgets, cost analysis, inventory, employee evaluations, and customer service,” said Shoven. “All of which will be helpful to the school board.”
Shoven has two children enrolled in Lewisville ISD schools.
“Elizabeth is a seventh grader at Huffines Middle School and Kara is a third grader at Lakeland Elementary. My family plans on spending at least the next 10 years in LISD; I am vested in the success of LISD.”
In partnership with the Lewisville Texan, all three candidates completed a questionnaire. Below are some of the questions asked of the candidates, along with excerpts from their responses. Complete responses are available at the Lewisville Texan website.
On LISD’s Strategic Design:
Cox: “I am in support of the process of Strategic Design. It has allowed for the community to engage in the process. I believe in the advancement of technology; however, it is important that we measure the results and how it is affecting our teachers and students.”
Miller: “I am vested only in that I support the intent, direction and fundamental principles of Strategic Design, but believe the District continues to make mistakes in the roll out. We are far from achieving ‘transformational’ results against desired outcome we hope to achieve.”
Shoven: “I have supported the Strategic Design process from the very beginning. I do believe it has transformed LISD for the better. The process is one we are still learning. It is not perfect, but it is much better than what we had before. I do feel more emphasis needs to be focused on the community and teacher input as the design process continues to be implemented.”
On opting-out of the state’s standardized testing accountability standards:
Cox: “I am in support of the district’s request to opt-out of the state’s accountability standards. Standardized testing sometimes leads to teachers ‘teaching to the test.’ We need to allow our teachers to use their expertise in educating our children. We have some of the best teachers in the state and they will help our children excel.”
Miller: “I am very opposed to the current STARR and TAKS ‘high stakes testing’ requirements. It has created frustration with teachers, students and parents. Whereas, I do think that we should have some standard of measure across the state, the current approach is not creating a positive and meaningful learning environment.
Shoven: “Though I believe some testing is good– and this last legislative session lowered the number of End-of-Course exams from 15 to 5, the amount of testing currently put on our students is still the most strenuous in the nation. There are too many high-stakes test placed on our children and our teachers. One test should never be the deciding factor if a child is advanced to the next grade level, or allowed to graduate high school.”
On LISD communicating with parents:
Cox: The district has great communication tools; unfortunately, they are not being utilized to their fullest capacity.
Miller: “At a school level I do believe the individual schools are doing a good job in communicating and engaging. At a teacher level, I would say that either the district or the school should require some standardization and expectation for parents. Not all teachers communicate as effectively or as timely as others. An example would be grading and posting scores. The district should have an overall policy on timeliness and the school leadership should enforce it.”
Shoven: “I think the district is doing a good job of communicating with parents who want to be involved. Being able to subscribe to Skyward for grades and the Daily Prides for feeder pattern information is great. Most schools are actively using Facebook, Twitter and phone call outs to keep parents up-to-date as well. Teachers and organizations are also using text messages to those families who opt in to receiving them.
On the district’s current technology strategy:
Cox: “I am in support of the 1:X initiative, however, the rollout has been extremely fast and I am not sure that the district is getting the necessary buy-in from all parties concerned. We need to make sure that the device is being utilized for what it is designed to do with our students, as well as our teachers. We need to measure the results beginning with implementation through the final results from our students. This includes the training of teachers, the reliability of the networks and the educational benefits to our kids.”
Miller: “The district, although well intended, was– and remains– unprepared for the strategy they are moving forward with, especially when it comes to technology. We’ve layered the complexity of not effectively preparing our teachers adequately and equitably across the District. The training has been limited and lacked the depth necessary to achieve the desired results. Even with BYOT (bring your own technology) students, teachers and volunteers would consistently complain that the network was unreliable.
Shoven: “Though I like the idea of 1:X, I also like the idea of Bring Your Own Technology. If students can bring their own, why do we need to provide an iPad to each and every student? How is an iPad the right device at the right time for everyone? I would like to have seen a program where parents could buy an iPad at a contracted price should they choose to do so. I have heard the arguments that our Free and Reduced students would need assistance in purchasing. Provisions are already in place for ESD, Dual Credit, AP classes and SAT/ACT tests, similar provisions could have been put in place for technology.
On school rezoning:
Cox: “Once a student has started in a school, rarely do they want to move. With the changing demographics of our communities, rezoning is unavoidable. We must do a better job planning further out. One year is not acceptable. The process should involve community leaders, school administrators, parents, and facility. Class sizes and capacity at schools is important, but should not be the only determining factor.”
Miller: “Rezoning within a district should really be looked at on a yearly basis and have some flexibility in the process itself. However, the process of redrawing a boundary between school districts, or with this question via de-annexation, is a process regulated by the state laws and– although it can be accomplished locally– it can be lengthy, time consuming, long and often does not lead to the desired outcome.”
Shoven: “Rezoning is always emotional. I was very excited to see the board adopt the new intra-district policy this past semester. Because I am for extra-grandfathering, I feel the district needs to be more proactive in rezoning. The process should start at least two years prior to an issue arising. In future rezoning, I would like to see the district hold a public meeting first, tell the community what the issues are and why we need to rezone. Then the district should come up with two-to-four plans based solely on numbers. Afterwards, bring in a committee to look at the maps of their communities and tell us how to better it. Let the district know about cut-troughs, walking routes, crossing guards– or the lack thereof– and tweak the maps to fit the community.”
On de-annexing part of the district:
Cox: “I would not support this. The size of our district allows the programs and services for our children. With a separation of the district this would be a huge financial burden to the tax payers in that community.”
Miller: “I understand why some areas in Frisco, Double Oak, etc. and some families feel disenfranchised from the communities they live in. I do not have the history or current knowledge of the full scope of this, but would listen and cast my vote based on proper information and understanding of the overall impact to the system for both districts. I can certainly appreciate why they would want their children to be a part of Frisco ISD, given the community aspects, but as important is the amount of time the students are spending on buses or being transported by parents.”
Shoven: “I think these are knee-jerk reactions to change. I can understand the parents’ frustrations; I have been there myself, but when you look at the practicability of separating from the district, I don’t think you can get everyone to agree at the same time. Brick-and-mortar, technology and land have to be agreed on by all municipalities involved, as well as, the consideration for the teachers and the entire student body on those campuses. Though it sounds good at first thought, unless there is true consensus in a community, I don’t see any changes coming to the LISD boundaries in the near future.”
On private school vouchers and the expansion of charter schools:
Cox: “I do not support the private school vouchers. The state has trouble funding public education. Any private school vouchers or expansion of charter schools will decrease the state’s funding allocations.”
Miller: “I do support the idea in some special circumstances. If the student is forced to continue to attend a district school that has showed little progress towards an exemplary status as defined by the state or a special needs situation that is not just economic. In both of these scenarios I would, however, require that the schools chosen by the families be obligated to the same requirements that public schools are held to– in that they cannot discriminate as to who they accept. I am a supporter of Charter schools. Charter schools allow for some flexibility that we don’t have in the public schools; smaller class sizes, less infrastructure and overhead, so they can provide some customized learning for students who need it. But, these schools are not for everyone and they don’t offer the significant sports, band, theater and other activities that are available to students in the public schools in LISD today. I would like to see more cooperation between our district and Charter schools similar to what we see with Austin ISD and what is taking place there.”
Shoven: “Private school vouchers sound great, until you start looking at the details. I have heard legislators say they must think of children for the entire state. They are concerned about our inner-city school kids who are stuck in a failing system. They deserve better. The legislators are right, those kids do deserve better, but I do not believe vouchers are the way to make it better.”