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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
April 20, 2016     Hays Free Press
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April 20, 2016

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:+ SO LONG, CECIL Community benefactor dies after a century of contributions. - Page 1C Hays Free Press April 20, 2016 Page 3B l See what your local school board candidates have to say about the issues. Incumbent school member Merideth Keller and candidate lonanna Mikulenka will be competing for the District 5 seat, while Priscilla Harrell and Esperanza Orosco will compete for the District 4 seat. The Hays School Board election is Saturday, May 7. Early voting starts Monday, April 25. Merideth Keller Jonanna Mikulenka What prompted you to seek election or reelection? I am seeking re-election to the Hays CISD Board of Trustees to continue my leadership and record of supporting our students, parents, staff members and taxpayers. I have a unique perspective because of my intimate current and historical knowledge of the workings of our board, administration and, most importantly, the education of the students we serve. The community deserves dedicated leaders and I have a long history of serving our community well. What do you bring to the table that your opponent doesn't have? I am the most qualified candidate because the leadership I provide began thirteen years ago and has not waivered. As your current District 4 Trustee, I serve as the current Board President and served as the pastVice-President and Secretary. I have 180 hours of board training and served on multiple board-level committees. I have successfully advocated for low elementary class sizes, lower taxes, higher teacher pay and process improvements. My district-level service includes the District Leadership Team, Growth Impact Committee, Bond Committee, Attendance Zone Committee, Principal Hiring Team, and the State Comptroller Task Force on Student Learning. I have served at the campus level on committees such as the Campus Leadership Team, PTA and booster clubs. I am the most involved, knowledgeable and dedicated candidate. What are the three biggest issues - facing your district and what do you plan to do to alleviate those issues? Improving academic advancement for all students is the biggest issue facing our district. We need to embrace a clear college and career readiness plan. It is up to the board to ensure that teachers are provided with the appropriate resources and training. I have been and will continue to be their biggest advocate. Addressing the explosive growth is another important issue. In 2017 we will propose a bond that should alleviate some of our overcrowding, In the interim, we cannot allow our student to teacher ratio to go over 22:1. I have successfully advocated for our district to adhere to that ratio. We must also improve our parent and community involvement. We have already started a district level volunteer plan but we have to build support at the campus level. I will advocate for this to be a continued board goal. Should Hays CISD consider magnet high schools in the future and why? I support the idea of considering magnet schools at all levels. Statistically, magnet campuses provide more specialized learning and teaching which result in the best academic outcomes. Individualized, project-based instruction that draws on student strengths, while improving weaknesses, is a proven method that is often associated with magnet schools. Along with a third high school, what should Hays CISD place in the proposed bond to voters next May and why? In addition to a third high school, the bond should address the need for new elementary campuses and possibly another middle school. The bond oversight committee or the growth impact committee will work with administration to determine the What prompted you to seek election or reelection? I feel that it is my passion and obligation to serve my community and I am frustrated with the current school performance - I expect more than we are currently receiving from our Trustees! This community has been home to my family for 20 years and I have served in various organizations within the School District and through many other service programs. Serving as a Trustee is another way to share my talents and skills with the community. My children have attended or are attending HCISD schools and this is another way for me to be an active member of my community. I care about this community and have always wanted to help our school become more than it currently is. I feel that my skillset combined with my plans to help raise the bar on education will improve our School District performance, which is desperately needed and has been needed for quite some time. Change is a good thing! What do you bring to the table that your opponent doesn't have? As an active parent within Hays CISD, I know several of the pain points at the elementary, middle and high school levels - as I have experienced it with my own children! In addition, I can bring my business experience, college degrees (I have two) and my CPA certification to help challenge the status quo that the District seems to be perpetually stuck in. My credentials also speak for themselves...I am a financial expert and know how to make wise financial decisions! I possess more than 20 years of business experience - particularly in a fast- : paced, growing technology industry. I understand how effective, prosperous organizations are run and feel that this knowledge can vastly challenge and improve many areas of the School District. I understand that we have to move quicker, smarter and faster than the current system allows and I have the skill and knowledge as to how to successfully manage this oftentimes cumbersome process. What are the three biggest issues facing your district and what do you plan to do to alleviate those issues? As one of the fastest growing Districts in Texas, HCISD has and will continue to have many challenges - first and foremost being academic performance followed by budgetary constraints and managing the rapid growth. Our dropout rate is close to 10%...we as a community are doing a large disservice to ourselves if we cannot reduce that rate. In addition, the preliminary budget forecasts currently under review for the next three years shows the District with a significant deficit and tough challenges ahead. My business experience as a CPA will help provide the financial guidance that the District desperately needs. Finally, the rapid growth can be managed and a plan developed based upon projected patterns and trends. We should not be signing waivers every year when we determine at the end of the calendar that our classes are overcrowded! We should be pro-active and manage classroom size early on to reduce the cycle of waivers that we seem to do all the time. Should Hays CISD consider magnet high schools in the future and why? I definitely see magnet schools as valuable, but feel that our current schools need to be performing at a higher level before we throw another challenge into the mix ... Priscilla Harrell What prompted you to seek election or reelection? I am super excited to be running for Hays CISD School Board Trustee-District 5. As a proud parent of 2 daughters, both graduates from Public Schools and now a new proud grand- mother of a baby girl, like you, Education is certainly a priority for me. I strongly believe in being involved and engaging in our schools. As a Morn, Parent, Advocate, Community Leader and supporting public school for 27 plus years. I want to continue working and advocat- ing for the education of all students in our community. I want to ensure 110% that every student gets a well- rounded Education. Our students deserve it! I strongly believe that we have amazing teachers and staff working with our students. I want the best resources and programs (CTE programs, Special Education, and Student Support Services-Guidance and Counseling) to be invested in our students, teachers, transporta- tion, administration, nutrition for our students and classrooms. I will also require that our tax dollars are used effectively and efficiently. My efforts as a board member would center on serving all of the students in the community; one student is no more important than another. What do you bring to the table that your opponent doesn't have? I believe that I am the most quali- fied because as a Mom, Parent, Advo- cate and Community Leader I have built strong relationships and earned the trust of parents, teachers, stu- dents, administrators and community members and leaders. I understand the issues and values of our district, and I will work collaboratively and support our district. I have been in- volved and supporting public schools for 27 plus years. From Elementary, Middle School and all the way thru High School. Having the experience and opportunity of volunteering as a PTO/PTA Chairperson/Class Room Mom is where I started my contribu- tions, fundraising for scholarships for our students, volunteering, hosting teacher appreciation & dance ban- quets, running concession stands, assisting school carnivals, sponsoring with Shattered Dreams Program. This is where I have become passionate about the quality of education our students receive. The last 4 years I have served on the Lehman High School Dance Booster Club as Presi- dent and Treasurer, The Hays CISD Leadership Team, (committee advised the Board in establishing and review- ing the District's educational goals, objectives and major district wide classroom instructional programs), 28 years in telecommunications, Bilin- gual Communicator, compassionately served and helped families, parents, students and our community thru critical times in the Funeral Busi- ness with my husband Jerry Harrell (Harrell Funeral Home). One of the most important skill sets I possess is my ability to listen, identify important issues and work together to identify and implement solutions. I have the experience in working with budgets, day to day policies with the city, state and different countries. I have the leadership, commitment, integrity, focus and get the job done qualities, always going the extra mile, skills and experience to be your School Board Trustee- District 5 What are the three biggest issues facing your district and what do you plan to do to alleviate those issues? First, Financial Resources/Sup- plies/Funding (books, computers & educational programs, CTE programs, Special Education, and Student ... Esperanza Orosco What prompted you to seek election or reelection? Having taught over 10 years in Hays CISD, I believe that I can bring an important perspective that has not yet been present on the board. As a classroom teacher, I experienced firsthand the consequences of budget cuts, like increases in class sizes and the real world impact these types of changes have on our stu- dents. As President of Hays Educa- tors Association TSTA for over seven years, I was an advocate for retaining reading intervention teachers, for smaller class sizes, and for valuing our District employees with competi- tive salaries. What do you bring to the table that your opponent doesn't have? At this critical time for our district, we need someone knowledgeable on district matters and board history - someone who can hit the ground running. I have actively let the board and administration knOW my posi- tions with regard to policy, on budget discussions, and advocating for the implementation of best practices on specific programs. I have attended over 100 board meetings, budget workshops, goal settings, and board trainings; so, my historical reference of the District's business and experi- ence as a teacher afford me a unique perspective. I have been an active participant and advocate for our children and employees. And I can pledge that I will continue to do just that. What are the three biggest issues facing your district and what do you plan to do to alleviate those issues? Hays CISD has accomplished many things, but we need to con- tinue to strengthen our ac_affe_mic programs, deal with rapid growth, and recruit and retain highly quali- fied educators for our students. To strengthen our academic programs, an increase in advanced curriculum options will prepare & inspire our students to reach their goals. I am also committed to prioritizing issues resulting from our District's rapid growth, like class sizes & staffing. It is critical that we decrease class sizes and set policy that will keep K-4 at 18:1 for low socio economic schools and 20:1 for other schools; this issue also needs to be addressed at the secondary level. With regard to the retention and recruitment of highly qualified teachers, implementing recommendations from the TASB market salary study that revealed just how much Hays CISD employ- ees are behind in pay would allow us to close that gap. Should Hays CISD consider magnet high schools in the future and why? Magnet high schools should be considered as an option. Magnet schools are part of the public school system and governed by the School Board. They do, however, receive additional funds to enable them to spend more money on teachers, stu- dents, educational programs and sup- plies. Magnet schools allow for a focus on one theme, i.e. STEM, Arts, Music, to be integrated into every subject taught. A magnet school also imple- ments a different mode of instruction that promotes excellence beyond what is offered in a regular school setting. As a district, we need to gauge interest in magnet schools and, if the interest is there, explore what it would take to begin formulating a plan to implement such a program. This would include observing successful magnet programs and speaking with parents, students, and teachers of these programs, so we can work to meet the needs of our district... ::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: ............................. ....:......:..:: ....................... ....,.... ......................... , ................................................................ New Braunfels Area Car Club Swap Meet & Sunday Car Show April 22.24, 2016 (. omai C0unty F a rgrounds 801 E. Common Street New Braunfds www, newbraunfelscarclub,c0m, No Dogs Please OVARIAN CANCER has been linked to the regular use of TALC. Shower to Shower@ and Johnson's Baby Powder@ include talc. Call us for professional in- sight if you or a loved one has been diagnosed. 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