Growth, bond, district leadership guide discussion in Hays CISD candidate forum

District leadership, growth and the upcoming May 2017 bond were topics addressed by four of the six candidates battling for a seat on the Hays CISD board of trustees.

District 1 incumbent trustee Teresa Tobias, along with trustee At-Large candidates Debbie Munoz, Doyla Burrell and Vanessa Petrea, fielded questions in the Hays Educators Association/Texas State Teachers Association forum April 11.

District 1

Tobias, who was elected to her position in 2014, said she filed for reelection to finish what she started. She also wants to be a voice for children with special needs, as she is a mother of an autistic child.

Charles McNiel, Jr. one of two candidates running against Tobias, did not attend due to a work commitment, but said through a statement that he didn’t approach the position with “malice to my incumbent opponent, or anyone in Hays CISD” or didn’t have “axes to grind.”

However, McNiel said he has concerns for underserved children and that he was “disheartened” by fiscal priorities within the district.

Candidate Michelle Ray Carey did not respond to HEA/TSTA requests to attend.

Tobias said growth, social and behavioral programs, and communications between teachers and administration are the three biggest issues in Hays CISD.

Tobias said she believes the district is an employee friendly organization, but there is “always room for improvement.” The district has pushed its human resources department to recruit in areas such as bilingual and special education, as well as recruit in other areas of the state, such as south Texas, Tobias said.

She was in favor of both Proposition 1 and 2 in the May 2017 bond, but advocated for more community involvement in the process of crafting future proposals.

“When we do this again, which will come up with our growth, we need to look at how we can better involve the community,” Tobias said.

But there was room for improvement for district leadership, Tobias said. When asked about her familiarity with the district’s budget, Tobias said there are areas that still need work, but the budget is still a work in progress. She advocated for increasing SPED in several areas and possibly improving technology.

At-Large

A split on support of the district’s May bond, along with satisfaction with district leadership, highlighted debate among Munoz, Burrell and Petrea.

All three are vying for the seat held by outgoing trustee Sandra Bryant, who is not running for reelection.

Munoz and Petrea supported Proposition 1 and 2 in the bond, but Petrea felt the district needed to improve how it analyzes and improves design, as well as a need for transparency about future projects.

Burrell wasn’t in favor of the district’s $189 million Proposition 1, which calls for the construction of three new campuses. Burrell, who was on the district’s Growth Impact Committee for the bond, said she was “disappointed” in how it was presented and wanted more options.

“Schools can be built for less money,” Burrell said. “I’m not in favor of spending that much money.”

But Burrell said she favored Proposition 2, which features improvements to Career and Technology Education (CTE) facilities. Burrell, who is a military veteran, said she supports CTE as an option for students not seeking college.

Burrell said she felt the district leadership “could be better” and felt more leadership training and improvement in communication skills is important.

Munoz, a Kyle resident who served on the Kyle City Council and made an unsuccessful bid for trustee several years ago, said holding top leadership accountabile is key, and said transparency and visibility could be done better.

Petrea, a former PTA president and manager of a law firm, said she was “disappointed lately” in the district leadership. Petrea said the district needs a visionary leader, as well as a transformative leader when it came to growth.

She added with the right leadership in place, the district “could have done a better job communitating” the bond.

But she also has seen hostility between the board and the district at times.

“I feel like they’ve asked questions and not gotten the answers. They have to push harder and harder,” Petrea said. “It can be viewed as hostile or that tactics aren’t professional. I’ve been proud of board members pushing back on the district to get the answers.”

Petrea said growth, a lack of vision and the need for social and behavioral programs are her top three issues in the district. Burrell said leadership, educating students and growth were her big three bullet points.

Munoz cited growth, accountability with leadership and recruiting and retaining top educators are three issues in the district.

“We want our top educators to stay and be engaged and be happy,” Munoz said. “We should look at attracting educators to the district and keep stipends competitive.” 

Early voting locations

Hays CISD Administration Office – 21003 IH 35, Kyle TX 78640

Monday, April 24: 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Tuesday, April 25 to Friday, April 28: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Monday, May 1: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, May 2: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Buda Elementary Upper Campus, Kuenkel Room – 300 San Marcos Street, Buda TX 78610

Saturday, April 29: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Monday, May 1: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, May 2: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Election Day voting sites

All sites open for voting 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

District 1: Hays CISD Central Office, 21003 IH 35, Kyle TX 78640
District 2: Tobias Elementary School, 1005 East FM 150, Kyle TX 78640
District 3: Chapa Middle School (City Only), 3311 Dacy Lane, Kyle TX 78640
District 4: Hays Hills Baptist Church, 1401 North FM 1626, Buda TX, 78610
District 5: Wallace Middle School, 1500 West Center St., Kyle TX 78640

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