Early voting in the Killeen school board election is just over a month away.

Do you know who is running for the three open seats?

More importantly, do you know where the candidates stand on issues important to the school district’s students, teachers and taxpayers?

If you aren’t familiar with the office-seekers or their platforms, Monday’s candidate forum, sponsored by the Daily Herald, offers a great opportunity to gain some important knowledge and perspective.

The 90-minute event begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center, with doors opening at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Whether you have children attending school in the district, are a district employee or simply pay property taxes that fund the district’s operations, it’s in your best interest to hear firsthand what the candidates have to say.

Are you satisfied with how the Killeen Independent School District is educating its students, paying its teachers and addressing campus safety?

In the wake of last year’s $426 million construction bond issue, are you comfortable with how the district is proceeding with the bond-funded projects, as well as exercising oversight on bond spending?

Are you supportive of the superintendent’s $42,000 annual salary increase, as approved by board members last month?

How should the board candidates address the challenge of raising low scores on state-mandated standardized tests, as well as addressing KISD’s less-than-optimum graduation rate?

What should candidates consider the district’s top priorities — and what action should be taken to address these issues?

Residents deserve answers to these and other questions heading into the May 4 election.

Chiefly, though, Monday’s forum is an opportunity for attendees to get to know the men and women who are seeking to serve on the school board for the next three years.

As with the Herald’s recent Killeen City Council forum, each school board candidate will be afforded the opportunity to give a two-minute opening statement, as well as closing remarks, which may help forum attendees make distinctions as to each candidate’s priorities.

Moderators will ask each candidate several questions across a broad spectrum of issues related to the school district and its operations.

How the candidates respond to the moderators’ questions will not only provide insight into how they would address the various challenges facing Killeen ISD but also could be instructive as to how they would work with other members of the board.

Who you choose to represent you on the school board does matter.

The district is responsible for educating more than 44,000 students, making it the 26th largest school district in the state.

Also, with more than 6,200 full-time employees, Killeen ISD is the second-largest employer in the local area, behind Fort Hood.

Perhaps most importantly, KISD has an annual budget of more than $425 million, and its property tax bite of $1.26 per $100 valuation is the largest among all Killeen-area taxing entities. Fifteen cents of that tax rate was added to fund the $426 million school construction bond approved by voters last May.

For taxpayers living in KISD, the owner of a $150,000 home, without homestead exemption, will pay just under $1,900 in school district taxes annually. That equates to about $157 a month.

That’s a lot of money to invest in the school district — especially if you’re not familiar with the people holding the district’s purse strings.

In effect, the candidates vying for the three open school board seats are auditioning to manage and spend your money. It’s your job, as potential voters, to decide who you’d like to perform that important function.

And hearing how the candidates answer questions relating to financial accountability and transparency should play a significant role in how you make that decision at the polls.

Voting in the upcoming school board election is the best way to make your voice heard regarding school district policies and priorities.

If you haven’t yet registered to vote in the May 4 election, a Bell County voter registrar will be available at the forum to sign you up and ensure you’re eligible to cast your ballot.

We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity and join us Monday night for a first look at the men and women who are asking for your vote — and more importantly, your trust.

It’s an investment of your time that could pay strong dividends.

dmiller@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7543

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