Three candidates are vying for two three-year terms on the Salado I.S.D Board of Trustees: Jeff Kelley, Darrell Street and write-in candidate Michael Matthews.
We asked each of the candidates the following questions:
1. In the past two years, what has been the best thing to happen to the Salado ISD that can be attributed in any part to actions of the Board of Trustees or administration? What has been the worst thing to happen in the past three years attributed to the trustees or administration? What would you do to correct the latter? (150 words)
2. What is your stance on the elimination of the transfer fees for students? Why or why aren’t you in favor of this? (150 words)
3. Much has been said about increasing teacher pay. How can SISD increase teacher pay to be more competitive with school districts such as Killeen ISD? (100 words)
Question #1: The best thing to happen to Salado ISD that can be attributed to the administration would be that although the state cut our budget we were not forced to lay off any employees. In the past three years we have dealt with various issues in our school district but I feel none of them were directly attributed to the decisions made by school board or administration.
Question #2: I am in favor eliminating transfer fees because it actually generates more income for our school. The previous charge for transfer students in Salado would be far less than the amount the state provides for that student to attend our district.
Question #3: The state has started to reimburse money that was taken away in the past years. As this money comes in one of our top priorities is to increase not only teacher pay but all those that work in our district.
Question #1: Part A: Within the past two years, we have been presented and gladly approved by a 7-0 vote two balanced budgets. We got hit by some major unbudgeted expenses within the last two years, like totally redoing our high school track. Because of these unbudgeted items, we have had to get into fund balance but not reply and we remain in great shape financially. While doing what we had to do to protect and preserve our schools, we were always mindful of the true and absolute fact that we were spending the people’s money!
Part B: Hindsight is 20/20 but I trusted the representative of the company bidding on resurfacing of our track had done “all” his homework. As the winning bidder started to work, they “discovered” that the base for the track had major issues and had to be reworked. We had no choice. That episode reminded me what Ronald Reagan said: “Trust but verify.”
Question #2: Yes, I’m in favor of continuing to allow a restricted number of transfers until that time that our student population living 100 percent within our district can support our total budget 100 percent. This is a tricky issue, but we have been told over and over again: “run that school like a business and don’t make a habit of spending more than you bring in.” When state funding was cut several years back, we were able to limp by for a couple of years but it was not a good situation. We were facing two choices to balance the budget, start cutting employees and with that came cuts to program and many of those things making us a little different than other schools our size, or bring in more money. For what I believed was the benefit of all facets of our school, I supported the solution of increasing our student count. I still do.
Question #1: First of all, I would like to say that I’m not here to judge the decisions that the board has made in the past. I want to do the job that I can do. Bring new ideas to the board and support the students. In all these questions I have been asked, I never observed the word student. We need to focus on the students. That is why we are in education in the first place. The concern of mine is providing the best education available to the student. Make sure the teachers are evaluated with a proper evaluation system. The question should be: What will I suggest to the board to evaluate teachers? Professional Development Appraisal System of Texas should be used to evaluate teachers. At this time, Salado ISD uses a self-evaluation system, which requires the teacher to evaluate themselves. In addition, ACT scores have fallen in the past 5 years. We have way too many students going to college and in the first semester they are returning home. All these items must be addressed.
Question #2: The students of families who live, pay taxes, and contribute to the district are served first. We need to freeze the transfer of students into the district. If we had done this in the past we would not be in class 4AAAA, which makes us one of the smallest schools at this level. Salado enrollment exceeded the cut off by 12 student students, this is oversight. We are competing with the lowest total of student at this time in our class.
Question #3: Teacher pay in Salado is low, $3000.00 less than Jarrell. We need to, once again consider the student. We have an administrative overload. It seems that the board has approved several administrative positions that could save the district money. The board has missed several opportunities and approved several administrative positions that could build revenue over the past years. This money could go to the teachers and building revenue to go to other pressing situations.