Three answers of “yes” and three answers of “no” drew a line in the sand Monday night between candidates vying for spots on the Killeen Independent School District Board of Trustees.
The question was brief: Do you feel the raise given to Superintendent John Craft was justified?
Incumbents Susan Jones, Corbett Lawler and Shelley Wells said yes.
Challengers Stanley Golaboff, The Rev. David Michael Jones and Robert People said no.
About 50 residents got to familiarize themselves with candidates at a forum hosted by the local NAACP chapter Monday at the Douse Community Center. The Board of Trustees election is May 4.
Candidates shared their stances on revisions to KISD’s voter-approved $426 million bond construction program, employee compensation, student discipline and more.
Yet every school board candidate participating in Monday night’s forum gave a clear answer to whether they agreed with the sitting board’s decision on Feb. 12 to give the superintendent a 15.8 percent pay raise to a $310,000 annual salary.
For place 1, Lan Carter is running against the incumbent Shelley Wells. Place 2 incumbent Susan Jones is challenged by Rev. David Michael Jones. Stanley Golaboff and Robert People are challenging incumbent Corbett Lawler. Brett Williams is uncontested for place 5.
Organizers said Carter and Williams were unable to attend due to illness.
The following are some of what the school board candidates at Monday night’s forum said regarding the raise:
Stanley Golaboff: “I think it’s a slap in the face to all our employees … My math tells me there was $2.5 million in the budget last year for employees to get a 3 percent raise. They just didn’t make the decision. Actions have consequences.”
David Michael Jones: “I don’t agree. We’re always talking about comparing to this and comparing to that, but we’re not comparing our teachers to what they do … It’s just confusing to me that we talk about educating our children, we talk about that we need our teachers, yet we’re saying it’s OK if we force them out to get another job.”
Susan Jones: “Dr. Craft was not on average with his peer group. We do (salary analysis) with teachers, other staff, to try and always keep ourselves a little bit ahead … He is a shining star in our community. He is young. He is energetic. He has great ideas about what education looks like in the future as well as today.”
Corbett Lawler: “We pay our staff based on what the competitive market is based on that particular decision. We don’t compete in this area for a superintendent — we compete in the whole state … I would bet you my lunch money tomorrow our superintendent has been approached to go somewhere else. And I think the fact that he’s here shows his dedication to finish the job he started.”
Robert People: “I don’t believe it was justified. What are you telling the teachers? What are you telling the support staff when you’re fighting so hard to give Craft a pay raise that almost equates to what a lot of teacher salaries are … They’re not willing to do the same for the teachers and the support staff.”
Shelley Wells: “I believe you have to remain competitive to attract and keep highly qualified, caring individuals to work with our students. I believe Dr. Craft is one of those. He’s evidenced that with all the wonderful opportunities he’s given to our students since he’s been here … I believe Dr. Craft is fairly compensated, but I believe everybody should be fairly compensated.”
Candidate information and more election coverage is available at www.kdhnews.com/centerforpolitics. The Herald will have continuing coverage of the election.