Austin American Statesman – candidate statement

What are the greatest challenges facing this district and what is your plan to tackle them?

 

DSISD is in a pivotal position. Our district’s greatest challenge involves the transition from a primarily rural district to a mix of rural areas and neighborhoods in new subdivisions. We must develop a model of building new schools with the goal of safety in mind, trying to keep students off long twice a day bus rides. These long bus rides can sometimes be forty-five minutes to an hour twice a day. Building the schools where the children live is a simple idea. Trying to keep schools safely located inside neighborhoods as much as possible should be a top goal.

 

We should ask developers to plan with us and follow the example of the Belterra builders. Those builders donated land to the district for an elementary school. It is deep inside the Belterra subdivision. Many of these children can walk or ride their bikes to school. We need to work with developers during the planning stages, asking them to follow the Belterra model, to assure that new schools are safely located inside neighborhoods as much as possible.

 

Even the Belterra school, Rooster Springs, will not be adequate to accommodate students in that neighborhood when Belterra is completely built out. New subdivisions are being planned now in that south east quadrant of our district as well as north of 290 and RR 12.

 

What is your position on the bond and why do you feel it is or isn’t needed?

 

Relocating the Admin building at WSES and then rebuilding WSES will cost over $38 million. We will not, however, add any additional student capacity from this $38 million being spent.

     

This is not planning wisely for new growth, in my opinion. The new WSES will not be built inside a neighborhood. It will be directly on Highway 290.  Plus, with this current plan, the administrators will have a building that is too large for them. Not providing for growth in student population, but providing an admin building that is actually too large, while saying this bond is all about student growth, is less than transparent.

 

We need to learn from our friends in the adjacent Hays CISD. Hays CISD passed a huge bond at the direction of their previous superintendent, with 70% of the voters approving this huge bond. Hays then built one of the most expensive high schools in the state of Texas. Property taxes for some homeowners have doubled in just five years in that district. A new superintendent is putting in good changes in that district which will hopefully remedy the possible financial crisis, but we need to learn from them and be warned not to over spend.

 

 

What makes you the most qualified candidate for school board?

 

As a retired public school teacher from Austin ISD, my unique qualifications for the board include over forty years of experience in public school, both as a professional educator and as a parent of children who attended public schools. All three of our children graduated with honors from DSISD and now have professional careers. We are very grateful for the excellent education they received in DSISD.

 

As a teacher, I have seen how sometimes administrative decisions can be made that for whatever reason do not keep the needs of the students and teachers as the focus. My priority will always be “Children First.” I will also advocate for teachers, as well as parents and taxpayers of course.

 

Please list your civic participation, including any school district positions, volunteer work on committees, etc.

 

In DSISD, I have applied to be on the SHAC (School Health Advisory Council). I have attended every SHAC meeting this year. In my employment with Austin ISD, I served on the local CAC (Campus Advisory Council), the local TEEG Grant Committee, and was the chairman of the local Bicentennial Committee at Zilker Elementary. At Brentwood Christian, I started the Secondary Library Development Committee. My husband of over forty years and I have been active in the Boy Scouts, and are active in our church, Austin Oaks, where I volunteer as a teacher in the children’s ministry.

 

Anything else you’d like to add?

 

I deeply appreciate the time and effort our current school board members, superintendent, administrators, and teachers have devoted to make DSISD such an outstanding district. I would be deeply honored to serve our community as a new school board member.

 

Please visit my website:  https://sharon4dsisd.com/