HARKER HEIGHTS — Three candidates running for seats on the Killeen Independent School District board of trustees met Thursday to make their case to voters at a question-and-answer forum.
Hosted by the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce in anticipation of the May 11 election, Thursday’s participants also included candidates running for the Harker Heights City Council.
After making short introductory remarks, Killeen school board President Shelly Wells, board member Susan Jones and her challenger, parent and local business owner John Gilmore, fielded questions from the audience. Wells’ opponent, former educator and Fort Hood employee Lan Carter, did not attend the forum. Topics included longevity pay for staff and teachers, and school safety.
All three candidates spoke about cuts to education funding at the state level, as well as automatic cuts to federal funding, commonly known as sequestration.
Wells said she and the board would attempt to keep the cuts from hitting the classroom and affecting the quality of education.
“The classroom is sacred to this board,” she said. “We’re going to do everything we can to maintain classroom learning. ... It’s all about the students.”
Gilmore, a first-time school board candidate, said the cuts created uncertainty at a time when districts are trying to plan their budgets.
“We’re juggling all these $100 million balls in the air, and we don’t know which ones we are going to catch and which ones we are going to drop.”
Jones said the board wanted to avoid having to cut programs.
“As far as eliminating programs and things like that, it’s not something that anybody likes to do,” she said. “With (Superintendent Robert) Muller’s guidance and the board working together, I’m certain that (the board) will find the right answer.”
Early voting is April 29 through May 7. Election Day is May 11.