Teacher pay raises and compensation for the superintendent of the Killeen Independent School District inspired strong responses from candidates for the KISD Board of Trustees in a Monday night forum.
Nearly 100 residents Monday night filled seats inside the Killeen Civic and Conference Center for the KISD candidate forum sponsored by the Killeen Daily Herald.
Candidates also shared their stances on the $426 million bond construction program, special education, standardized testing, transparency and more.
Six out of the eight candidates for the May 4 election Monday night spoke before audience members. Running for Place 1 are candidates Lan Carter and incumbent Shelley Wells. Seeking the Place 2 seat are David Michael Jones and incumbent Susan Jones, and running for Place 3 are Stanley Golaboff, Robert People, incumbent Corbett Lawler.
Lawler was absent from the Herald’s forum as he and other district officials are meeting with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to discuss federal aid for the district. Unopposed Place 5 candidate and incumbent Brett Williams attended as an audience member, but chose not to be part of the panel.
Candidates were quizzed on whether Superintendent John Craft’s $42,287, 15 percent annual pay raise was appropriate for a district this size, and were thereafter asked whether teachers should have received more than a 2 percent general pay increase this past year — a smaller amount than the board had originally discussed in 2018.
The following are some remarks by school board candidates:
Lan Carter: “I don’t think we should have given him that type of raise. To do something like that, I would think we’re a world class school district. I haven’t seen any type of huge change that he’s done to deserve something like that, and I think that leaders lead by example. If his employees didn’t get that type of raise, than he shouldn’t have accepted that type of raise.”
Shelley Wells: “I think to begin with, we started Dr. Craft’s salary too low. It was not comparable to that of his peers and similarly sized districts in the state, so we got a salary survey by the Texas Association of School Boards that showed he was in the lowest half of superintendent salaries in the state of Texas. We had to catch up, and we had to catch up quickly.”
David Michael Jones: “I have a hard time with taking that kind of money to one person when we could have done so much for others – insurance, medical – those type of things that the worker bees need. We could have done that, but instead, one person. I don’t know the man that well, not saying anything against him, but I do think that our teachers should come first.”
Susan Jones: “Do you want Dr. Craft to pack up his bags and go on to another school district with $426 million worth of bond projects sitting on the ground unfinished, 45,000 students and 7,200 employees? Dr. Craft is a sought-after resource. He is only beginning his career in education, ladies and gentlemen. He will go on to do great things, and soon, we will probably be looking for another superintendent.”
Stanley Golaboff: “Last year, the district said we could afford a 3 percent pay raise for our employees. After the fog passed, they gave them a 2 percent raise for our employees ... We are funding our buildings on the backs of our employees. That’s why we have such a high turnover rate and vacancy rate across the district. It’s time to take care of our employees.”
Robert People: “What are you saying to the teachers if we’re OK with giving a pay raise to the superintendent that’s in line with other districts of the same size, but we’re not interested in paying our teachers and our educators in that way? We’re OK with teachers coming and going, but we want to keep the superintendent, with all due respect to him. Our teachers and educators deserve better than that.”
More of the candidates’ responses on a variety of topics will be covered in a Sunday story in the Herald. The entire forum can also be found on the Herald Facebook page, www.facebook.com/kdhnews and will be available on www.kdhnews.com/centerforpolitics.
Those with questions for the candidates may reach out to the Herald address via email to email@example.com with the subject line “KISD questions.”
The Herald’s coverage of the May 4 election will be ongoing.