Two seats on the Salado Independent School District’s Board of Trustees are up for grabs in the upcoming municipal election to take place May 4.
Incumbent Jeff Kelley, who currently serves as the board’s vice president, Amy McLane and Brand Webb will be on the ballot. Darrell Street, a multi-term board member, will not seek re-election.
Early voting begins April 22 and ends April 30, and will take place at the Salado Civic Center, 601 N. Main St.
Question 1: Do you support the SISD District of Innovation Plan? Why or why not?
Kelley: Yes I support the SISD District of Innovation Plan because it allows us to set our own calendar, to refine our hiring practices to fit our needs, and gives us much more local control on our policies.
McLane: Yes, I fully support the SISD District of Innovation Plan. The plan gives the district greater flexibility for determining the school calendar as well as more local control for innovative programming. A major part of the plan will allow the district to start the school year before the last Monday in August, resulting in a more balanced fall/spring semester as well as ending the school year before June. The plan also gives the district more control in hiring CTE (vocational) teachers, an area I feel SISD needs to make a priority.
Webb: I am in favor of the Schools of Innovation program, which offers higher performing schools flexibility on starting and ending the school year. It allows schools the flexibility to modify the class size requirements as set forth by the TEA. This program does not alter the curriculum, graduation, and performance requirements that are mandated by the state. It provides the school district more local control.
Question 2: How would you help ensure that the district can consistently meet state performance standards?
Kelley: I feel we have hired qualified administrators that are very good at hiring staff to help our students meet their performance standards. Our administrative team gives the school board members updates on student performances regularly and works hand in hand with staff to ensure student success.
McLane: To help the district meet the state performance standards, I would strive to give the teachers all the support they need to make each student achieve their personal best. I believe teacher support is crucial from administration. The state performance standards are high, and I believe our district is fully prepared to achieve these goals.
Webb: I expect Salado schools to exceed state performance standards. To ensure this, I will familiarize myself with what the state performance standards are. I will review regular reports on how each school is performing. If standards are not being met, the board and superintendent will take action by identifying why standards are not being met. Ensure adequate resources and training are being provided to meet the performance standards.
Question 3: Do you think it is important for the SISD administration to communicate issues and news to residents and, if so, how would you do that?
Kelley: I do feel that the SISD administration needs to communicate issues and news to residents. I feel using the various forms of communication including email, local media and other technological resources to communicate is an appropriate way to keep our residents informed.
McLane: Yes, as a parent in the district, I believe it is very important for the district to communicate issues and news. Dr. Michael Novotny does an excellent job keeping the parents informed as issues arise, and I would hope this would continue.
Webb: Communication by a public supported institution is imperative to maintain engagement and support by the community. The district does a good job disseminating news daily via social media and email and the superintendent, by his weekly newspaper column. As the district grows in the future, video streaming of board meetings should be considered to strengthen communication.
Question 4: What do you think of the district’s measures to ensure the safety of students from potential danger, such as school gun violence, and do you advocate for additional measures?
Kelley: I feel like the district is doing all we can at this time with the funds available to ensure the safety of the students. We are working on retrofitting our older campuses with safety in mind. When we designed the newer buildings safety was a top priority and we will be hiring a safety officer this fall.
McLane: Safety at school is a number one priority. Without feeling safe, a child cannot grow to their full potential. I believe our district does a good job keeping the students safe by using several means. One cannot enter the four campus buildings without checking in with the office first and the outside doors are locked. Our district also uses the SafeSchools Alert, a nation-wide program that allows anonymous users to alert the district of any safety concerns.
Webb: A safe educational environment for students and staff is critical for academic success. The district has done a good job addressing the physical safety of our schools and in the past has effectively managed incidents involving threats to student and staff safety by having protocols in place and by coordinating with local law enforcement. As the district grows, school safety will become more difficult to manage and the addition of safety resource officers to monitor and engage with students and staff would be beneficial to combat internal and external threats.
Question 5: Last year, the $49.4 million SISD bond was passed. How can you help ensure that taxpayers’ money is spent wisely?
Kelley: The bond process is a very long and hard process. Part of this process was having community members, staff and administration assess what the needs were that were voted on. Once the bond passed we have taken great care in investigating construction companies and architect firms to make the most out of the bond money.
McLane: Last year, I served as the co-chair for both the Long-Range Planning Committee and the Political Action Committee for the SISD Bond. I am running for school board to ensure the plan put together by the long-range committee is completed. Our committee of 50 was comprised of parents, local business owners, school staff and various community members. We developed a building plan that we felt best used the tax money in the most efficient way and the plan needs to be accomplished. Our district is growing and we need to accommodate each student.
Webb: I am excited the district is investing in facilities to meet the growing demand for more space. The district is currently engaged in the largest construction program in school history. To ensure that cost projections stay on track, I will familiarize myself with the projected budgets, and will review monthly expenditures on each project to determine
if those expenditures are staying within the anticipated budgets. I expect the contractors to meet their obligations and if concerns arise, I will communicate with the board, the project manager, and the architectural firm to identify cost overruns, and to identify potential cost savings.