Lampasas ISD has two open seats, only one of which is contested. Jeff Rutland and Daryl Hurst are seeking Place 4. Incumbent David Millican is unopposed for Place 5.
QUESTION 1: What is the No. 1 thing you want to accomplish as a board member and how will you accomplish it?
Jeff Rutland: If I had to list one thing it would be to increase the CTE programs. Some of our kids have no plans to attend College. We need to do all we can to help and direct all kids. I know currently the CTE programs are growing and I think that is great. Let’s help our kids get ahead in trades like plumbing, electrical, and other construction trades. The Ag program also falls under this Umbrella. Our Ag programs from livestock judging to showing livestock teach our kids skills that they can use in their future endeavors.
Daryl Hurst: Top priority is to provide a more all-around quality education for our students. One primary way to accomplish a more quality education for students is to provide better support/backing to teachers who possess excellent leadership skills and are top-notch performers in the classroom. Lampasas ISD is not financially wealthy hence it is difficult to properly support our teachers with a deserving pay raise. Our school district’s average teacher pay is about three to four thousand less than the State’s annual average salary. Therefore, since our school district cannot easily raise teacher’s salary, we should ensure that an exceptional work environment exist where quality teachers are hired, supported, and retained through performance and merit.
David Millican: The one thing I want to accomplish and continue is to give our students the best opportunities to succeed after high school. We started our 1 on 1 computer device program several years ago and it has been very successful. We have increased our course offerings in high school through the CTE program to try to prepare our non college bound students for the working world. Our college bound students have a several options for taking dual credit and advanced placement classes. We do a good job with what we offer our students.
QUESTION 2: What area in LISD presents the most room for improvement, and how will progress be made?
Jeff Rutland: I’m not going to be critical of our current administration and board. There are always areas we can improve on. As stated already I believe in expanding the CTE programs. I feel our teachers and support staff need the tools to teach our kids. I want the staff to know the school board is here to support them. I’m a firm believer in communication between the administration and the staff. I believe in holding everyone accountable from the kids all the way up to the administration. Let’s continue to talk in a positive way on how to improve on what we have.
Daryl Hurst: LISD needs to improve the mental, physical, and social education of all school district students. There are many ways to accomplish this, but one of the most fundamental ways is for the school district to obtain a more cohesive educational system that will equate to an improved student education. An effective, efficient, and cohesive education system is one that possesses competent and quality leaders at the various school district levels to include the teacher, administration, and school board levels. In addition, a cohesive education system must operate like a well-oiled machine, much like the integral components of an automobile’s engine, transmission, and wheels. If one of the key components of an automobile is not operating at peak performance, then the entire automobile becomes inefficient and ineffective in getting from point “A” to point “B”.
David Millican: I think capital improvements always goes to the front of the list. We have a couple of older campuses that we work hard to maintain. We have just completed a large roofing project at our middle school. The technology wiring and security was updated last year. There is constant discussion about future plans and visions for our campuses. We are very fortunate to have 3 pretty new campuses to serve our faculty and students.
QUESTION 3: What will you do to make sure the board is transparent with residents?
Jeff Rutland: I would encourage residents to reach out to me to visit about concerns they have. The public is invited to attend the board meetings and ask questions. The board needs to be as transparent as legally possible. As a board member I would promote transparency.
Daryl Hurst: I will make myself available, to include website, email, and phone contact information, for citizens to contact me and express their various questions, comments and/or concerns. School board members are elected by the public and therefore school board members should be readily available to listen, communicate and inform the citizens of the community on the various topics and issues that are being addressed, or should be addressed, by the school district. In addition, we need to change some school board policies and allow concerned citizens more than three minutes to speak at school board meetings. We also need to have a policy and process in place for the school board to follow-up on and track items of concern that are raised at school board meetings. The key take away is to have more effective and frequent communications from the members of the school board to parents, citizens, and the public.
David Millican: Lampasas is a small community. Our board is very approachable and willing to listen and discuss issues of the community. There is a lot of interaction in our community with all the events that take place. We are able to see and be around our residents at these events. I don’t see any reason that will change. I receive calls from concerned parents, teachers and community members and am glad to take the time with them.
QUESTION 4: Should LISD teachers be paid more? If so, how much?
Jeff Rutland: I believe the teachers and other support staff should be paid more. As you know LISD has to operate with-in its budget. If elected to the board I would encourage the administration to take a poll of the surrounding districts and see how we compare. This was done 2-3 years ago and the current board acted to increase pay. I know that the cost of living in Texas has increased and our staff deserves more. Some teachers have mentioned that the pay raise just goes towards the cost of their Health insurance. I understand their frustration. Currently there are bills in the Texas House and Senate to increase teachers’ pay. We need to see the appropriate funding for this from the state. At a minimum I would like to see 3-5% across the board. We have to be fiscally responsible and make sure this can be budgeted.
Daryl Hurst: Yes, LISD teachers should be paid more but unfortunately our financially strapped school district does not have the funds to provide teachers with a well-deserved pay raise that meets the State’s average annual salary. Even if the State passes legislation to increase pay for all teachers, LISD will more than likely still be below the State’s average pay. If we as a school district cannot provide more pay to our teachers, then we best ensure we do a better job of supporting our teachers in the classroom.
David Millican: Absolutely our teachers should be paid more. The support staff should be paid more also. How much is a good question and I’m not sure you can put a dollar figure or percentage on that. The State legislature is meeting now and public school funding is one of their top priorities. We are looking forward to seeing what they decide. I feel like our district has given raises to our educators and still tried to stay within our budget. One of the main responsibilities of a school board is to be good stewards of the tax payers money. We do a good job of that.
QUESTION 5: The district’s improvement plan states that roughly 55 percent of students elect to take college admission tests. How will you work to boost this ratio?
Jeff Rutland: At the last school board meeting in March Principal McQueen and his team talked about their plans. One idea was to have LISD pay for the test. Mrs. Salvato also mentioned that the school is working towards administering these test locally at the high school. Our counselors and teachers play a vital part in this. Encouraging our kids to take these test and find a college that works for them. We also need to communicate with the Parents and kids about the importance of taking these test.
Daryl Hurst: I’m not convinced we need to boost the ratio/percentage of students taking college admission tests. If college is not a high school student’s cup-of-tea, then we should not pressure a student to take college admission tests. College is not for everyone and sometimes it’s not for students straight out of high school. I personally was not mature enough or prepared for college immediately after high school. Several years after high school, I went to college and obtained my bachelor’s degree. My oldest daughter was not ready for college either and instead joined the military after high school. She did four years in the military and is now attending a state university to obtain her Bachelor of Arts in teaching. Other students are more apt to attend a trade school or go straight into the workforce. Whether students decide to go straight into college, the military, trade school, or the workforce, our school system should educate, encourage, provide the proper environment, and support our student’s career choices to the fullest.
David Millican: I want to give our students every opportunity we can to help them succeed. The principals and counselors we have at the middle school and high school do a great job with our students. They do their best to get these kids ready for their future. I will look to our curriculum directors for information on what is needed and gladly support it.