Three candidates are vying for two three-year terms on the Salado ISD Board of Trustees: Jeff Kelley, Darrell Street and write-in candidate Michael Matthews. We asked each of them the following questions:
Question #1: What do you think will be the greatest challenge facing Salado school in the next three years? the next five years? the next 10 years? How would you recommend addressing these challenges? (200 words)
Question #2: Would you support calling for a local election to increase the maintenance and operations tax rate beyond the $1.04 state cap? If so, why and what rate would you support? If not, why not? (150 words)
Question 3: How would you rate the infrastructure of our school district (campuses, athletic facilities, administration facilities, transportation)? What would you recommend or support to improve these areas? (150 words)
Question 4: Would you support calling for a bond election for improvements to existing facilities and/or construction of new facilities? If so, what facilities do you think are needed the most and why? If not, why not? (150 words)
Question #1: I feel the challenges for all time frames will be the same: growth of the student population, facilities for that growth and keeping our pay competitive to the other districts.
Question #2: Hopefully we do not have to call for a TRE. If the state reestablishes our funding that tax increase will not be necessary. Until we know the funding from the state I cannot rule anything out.
Question #3: I would rate them adequate. I feel our maintenance department and the rest of our staff do the best they can with the facilities we have. I would support the direction that the administration and community feel comfortable with.
Question #4: I would support calling a bond election for both improvements to existing facilities and new construction. I feel like we will probably need a larger HS in the near future and improvements to the Elementary and Junior High facilities. I feel with the construction of a new HS we can then spread out the other grade levels in the facilities we already have.
Question#1: The greatest challenge facing Salado schools for the next 3, 5, and 10 years are all in the same family with growth being the common thread! We as a school board, the school administers and the people of this district know this “challenge” can be met and achieved with a determined united school and support of its citizenry. This is being addressed and done through our long term planning and constant review. We have an adopted long term plan but Dr. Novotny and all of us know that no plan is worth a plug nickel if that plan is not acted upon with zeal. The key to any plan is that plan passes the common sense test and has public support. Public support is achieved by presenting the facts clearly and being unbiased in their presentation. As Paul Harvey used to say: “In the for what it’s worth department”: I take the title of Trustee seriously and take it to mean: a person you can trust. I hope I am that person to you. I know I am entrusted with providing the best schools we can with a feel for what our taxpayers are willing to fund. I will try to do this by always remembering to: “Keep my hand on the throttle and my eyes on the rail.”
Question #2: Calling a Tax Ratification Election (TRE) is an acceptable way for voters to get involved to express their willingness or non-willingness to address special issues. At the present time each penny we would add to the tax rate would generate over $6,800 per year in revenue. To be clear, these additional funds would go directly into the general fund and the school takes care of its obligation to the voters during the budget process.
I would certainly consider a TRE within the framework of assessing the needs of the district and the most suitable way to present these needs to the voting public. How much I would support I do not know until the proposed increase would be shown fitted within the long term plan.
Question #3: I would rate our current infrastructure as almost adequate for right now but tomorrow is another story. Our elementary school was built in the 1950s. Yes, it is still functional but we now rely on several portables to help support this campus. Our football field is just not fan friendly. We have very limited parking, one restroom for ladies and one for men and one old concession stand. The baseball field has very little seating and has to rely on the football field for restrooms. We have other facilities equally in need of improvement. I will say straight out-sooner than later these problems will need to be addressed by the school board and the voters.
Question #4: The question is: would I support calling for a bond election to improve and/or build additional facilities and what are the greatest needs? A detail facility study was done and presented to the school board to answer these questions. Currently, I believe that an “all in one” bond election would be difficult to pass but maybe not impossible. I would support calling a bond when it was deemed necessary for the good of the school. The offering of solutions to issues is one of the things we do as a board. Again, this cannot be a kneejerk reaction but a process of simply letting the facts dictate our actions. We must make decisions based on facts and a feel for the amount of current public support.
1. There is going to be a huge influx of students moving to Salado from now on. As I see it, we need to prepare for this in building schools (provide classrooms), transportation, athletics, and the list continues. We need to maintain educational quality for all students in a district that is growing in numbers and diversity. This change is going to be the districts biggest challenge.
Question #2: No, not at this time. With the anticipated restoration of state funding, we are well over the state average. There should be plenty of room to provide teachers the market they deserve and stay within the $1.04 state cap.
Question #3: I want to prevent portables from being our only option in the future with the planned growth, which everyone seems to want, we need to prepare and plan for this future. Additional classrooms, facility expansion, transportation, (The Bus Barn), Gym expansion. The gym is ridiculously undersized with small stands on one side and in the small gym there are only stands on one side. The school was built in ‘06 and it is over crowed now. We need to quit cutting corners and come up with integrated approaches and new ways of thinking regarding infrastructure. We also need to think towards a Career Center. We need to train students who have no intention of attending college to have a trade and be certified in the workforce to go to work now. Like Belton with a New Tech School & Career Center in Killeen.
Question #4: The short answer is yes. Both my opponents vehemently supported the athletic bond in 2011 and it was way too expensive and we were in 2AA. We ended up spending money on a track that is too small, with only 7 lanes and exceeded cost! I would support a bond that is carefully thought out and balanced. Focus on the students and student achievement whether they are on the field, in the classroom, on stage, in the gym, in the lab, shop, Ag in the barn. The students deserve these improvements, I think they have worked hard enough to receive it!