In my first election, I ran on lowering elementary teacher-student ratios, improving the level of our faculty, reducing the missed days of students and faculty, and improving the consistency of our curriculum. At the middle school level, I spoke our forcefully for improvements that were needed at Miller Middle School so San Marcos would have two middle schools to which every parent desired to send their kids. At the high school level, I campaigned on increasing graduation rates while increasing rigor of academics, and improving the faculty and increasing our partnerships with Texas State. On all counts, we made large gains. In this election, the most important thing we can do is to sustain and increase the gains we have made over the last three years in literally every one of those goals. Additionally, we have new issues to focus on:
Insuring the bond dollars go to increase classroom capacity by as much as possible as fast as possible.
Our district overwhelmingly passed a bond which added a new elementary school, a large expansion at Miller Middle School, and a new wing at the high school, as well as improvements at almost every campus. Now, it is very important that the board watch this once in a generation gift from the taxpayers of our community and increase capacity by as many seats as possible as soon as possible. We have a growing community and a growing district, so these campus expansions are the only way we are going to prevent classroom overcrowding. Many stakeholders have wish lists when it comes to a bond and how a bond is implemented, but the students wishlist needs to remain number one — reasonably sized classrooms in top-notch, safe facilities.
Building on improvements made in the faculty by increasing compensation for our experienced teachers while setting high standards for new teachers that want to be a part of what we are building.
I am proud that my three-year term has brought the largest teacher compensation increases in the history of the district. We were not paying our teachers anything close to what they deserved, and we have taken huge strides to fix that. Additionally, we have further professionalized the administration and implemented harmonizations in curriculum and training so that our teachers know what is expected of them and have the tools to accomplish it. As a result, we have never had as much interest from young teachers wanting to join the district as we do right now. Unfortunately, our teacher turnover has not lessened among teachers with five or more years of experience, and we continue to lose many educators that grew up with us and that we would like to continue being a part of our kids future. This is due in large part to the fact that other districts pay experienced teachers more than we do, even after the steps we took to improve compensation. We must take steps to make sure our teachers don’t have to make a financial sacrifice to keep teaching in San Marcos, while recognizing that environment plays almost as big a factor as pay — by treating our staff like the professionals they are by trusting them to teach and reducing their additional burdens.
We must take immediate steps and implement a long-range plan to address college readiness.
While we have made large strides at San Marcos High School, there is a lot of work to go. Many of our kids over the last decade were told they were getting college and career ready, when they were not. Many of our kids have not gone on to college, or those that have are too often forced to take remedial classes or are failing out before earning a degree. Among those who are not even getting to college, the State has taken a new look at our career readiness and found it inadequate. Many of our courses designed at career readiness were roads to nowhere, or at least roads to no jobs, and our college and career numbers are about to be significantly re-calibrated for the new reality. I believe college readiness is career readiness. There should be no lesser standard for students who prefer to put off or not attend college — they still need to be literate and numerate and have the life skills to be successful in whatever they chose. With automation, computerization, and the international economy, the days of being able to hide in jobs and earn a living wage are gone. We must increase the rigor at every level, and we need to be prepared to deploy the resources the teachers need to get this done. If we don’t, another generation of San Marcos graduates will be consigned to continue in generational poverty or worse — it’s that important.
Other questions I have been asked and my answers:
What do you think the proper role of the school board is?
Many on our Board over the last few years have held the view that the Board’s sole job was to hire and fire the superintendent. I do not agree. I believe the board must provide direction and leadership to the superintendent and to the entire district. The Board members represent the community, and the future of our community depends on a strong school system. Therefore, we are responsible to the voters and the entire community, and we must lead this district where the community would have it go.
Is having children in the school a problem for you serving on the board?
No. I have had zero issues with my kids campuses, because when my wife and I are at our kids schools, we are there as parents. I have taken extra measures to insure that I do not come off as heavy-handed and worked hard to never confuse my roles. And being a parent has made me a better board member, because I understand first-hand the concerns of many other parents and I see the impact of poorly designed policy.
If you have questions, I am sure others might have the same concern, so share it with me in the comment box below or by email and I will work to get you an answer.