Hays school board candidates on the issues

Hays school board candidates running for District 1 and At-Large seats were asked the following questions. The Hays School Board election will be May 6th. At-Large candidate Debbie Muñoz did not respond prior to print deadline.

1. What are the three biggest issues facing Hays CISD today?

DISTRICT 1

Michelle Carey
Hays needs to grow at a faster pace than we are to compensate for the growth we’re seeing and projected to have. Programs for our workforce directed students, i.e. a need for more specialized staff hired into the CTE & Dual Language programs. A strong plan for innovative curriculum to include training our incoming students for the workforce without using a broad sweeping brush that assumes all students are graduating high school to attend a 4-year university.

Teresa Tobias
Our district is facing many important challenges, so it would be difficult to pinpoint a top priority. I know that if elected I will work diligently alongside my fellow board members to improve our school district in all areas.

Charles McNeil
 The declining test scores and ratings, the crisis of confidence in the administration that is currently revealing itself, whether warranted or not, and the upside down priorities that place building designs above teacher compensation and true education.

AT LARGE

Doyla Burrell
 Leadership, Education and Growth

Vanessa Petrea
 Growth. We need functioning facilities, lower teacher-to-student ratios, increased teacher satisfaction and innovative instructional tools despite budget constraints. Clear Vision. We should be speaking a common language and embracing a shared vision for our district. There should be a consistent student journey regardless of your feeder pattern. Social & Emotional Learning. We are becoming a more disconnected society. Our students want to understand why they should care about learning and where they fit in the world. Teaching students effective teamwork skills, empathy, how to handle emotions, self-awareness, citizenship, leadership, confidence and self-management will be paramount for post-secondary success.  

2. Where do you stand on Hays CISD’s two 2017 bond propositions and why? 

DISTRICT 1

Michelle Carey
 Regarding the bond propositions I am supportive, I know we need more funds to prepare for the incoming population moving here over the next 10-20 years. I am not supportive of spending without strict accountability for where the dollars are distributed. I think the budget needs to be examined line-by-line to ensure we leave no room for misdirected funds or lack of fiscal irresponsibility. 
Teresa Tobias
  I am supporting both of our bond propositions this election year. Our schools are experiencing record enrollment and we need the new schools that the bond will fund. In addition, Proposition two will allow the district to add and improve some our CTE programs. I encourage our citizens to learn more about the bond propositions and how important they are to our district.
Charles McNeil
  I oppose both propositions. Having heard the objections of a critical mass in the community on both sides of the issue over the process that unfolded, it is impossible to think their concerns lack merit. Beyond that, the prices are exorbitant. Hays CISD does not have the luxury of a large tax base, and engaging in construction that ignores that reality is foolish. It is also not possible to look past the dishonest tactics inherent in Prop 2. It is too convenient that nearly every school in the District requires major roof repairs, and it is the one area that parents cannot readily access and inspect for themselves. 

AT LARGE

Doyla Burrell
 I will vote AGAINST Proposition 1.  There needs to be a redesign to the buildings which should result in  a  lower cost. I will vote FOR Proposition 2. There are items on this list I am not in favor of.  In order to get the CTE (technical training)  expansion so that each HS campus will be able to offer the same courses and capture students that have not been able to take the classes I will vote yes for this proposition. 

Vanessa Petrea
 No one can argue that many of our campuses are overcrowded. We desperately need new schools, fire sprinklers and leaky roofs need to be fixed. But, I think the district needs to improve how new school designs are selected and how critical maintenance needs are addressed. I am supporting both bond propositions; however, if elected, I will advocate for community input and more transparency to review and approve new school designs. 

3. What do you bring to the table, if elected (or reelected) to the school board? 

DISTRICT 1

Michelle Carey
  I bring 20 years of experience working directly with families and their children in the schools and the ministry. I have served on staff for multiple non-profit programs and volunteered in the classrooms, I realize the incredible trust and responsibility that the community bestows upon us as trustees of the School Board.  
Teresa Tobias
I feel that our current school board is a group of talented individuals who all bring unique perspectives to the Dais. I am the mother of a child with Autism, so it’s not surprising that I love to advocate for children with special needs and their familes. I’m very involved in several Special Needs Advocacy groups and I volunteer as a new parent mentor. My fellow board members can always count on me to weigh in on the SPED budget and/or restructuring.
Charles McNeil
 I bring a fresh perspective. I have no promises to fulfill to any special interest, and I have no biases that I bring to the position. My professional life places me in the role of applying innovative solutions to unique applications, and I see that as this Board’s greatest deficiency. 

AT LARGE

Doyla Burrell
 I have leadership and management experience. I have a strong work ethic and I work well with others.  

Vanessa Petrea
  I have two children in the district, including a son with special needs. I currently serve on the Hays CISD Education Foundation board and as PTA President at Elm Grove. I previously served as PTA President at Blanco Vista. I work for a law firm as a proposal manager. I understand the bidding process and how professional services are purchased. Our family has also lived in both Kyle and Buda, and I understand the challenges throughout the district. I believe my proven leadership, dedication to the district and business acumen would be an asset to the district. 

4. Who do you identify as your base of support in this race?  

DISTRICT 1

Michelle Carey
 consider my base of support to be the voter who is interested in positive change, clear leadership and can appreciate an individual who uses common sense and balanced listening methods for making decisions.  
Teresa Tobias
  I believe my base of support would be fellow parents and community volunteers. Those that get to know me, see me in many of our schools volunteering, and representing our school district at various community events. My supporters have seen me in action and they know my heart. 
Charles McNeil
  The neighbors and friends that I have throughout the District and in the general region. One thing that this endeavor has taught me is the humility that comes from reconnecting with old friends that support my decision to run. I am thankful for the many relationships that I have forged throughout the years, and their support is greatly appreciated. It is important to state that I will serve all citizens of Hays CISD, whether I earn their support or not. 

AT LARGE

Doyla Burrell
  People who believe we need to do a better job at educating the students, which prepares them for the next phase in life.  People who feel the district needs to provide more accountability for the revenue and how it is being spent.  

Vanessa Petrea
 Having lived in both Kyle and Buda, I have strong support across Hays County. I also have support from educators, administrators and parents due to my involvement in various campuses.  

5. Are you satisfied with leadership within the district and why? 

DISTRICT 1

Michelle Carey
 I am not completely satisfied with the leadership in the district because we can always improve. If we decide that there is no more room for improvement then we have settled for “good enough”. Seeking a standard of excellence means there is always work to be done defining ways to improve.  

Teresa Tobias
 There is always room for improvement for any administration. That being said, I do have concerns that I plan to address in the upcoming weeks. As we evaluate our superintendent and review contracts for our administration, I know how important it is that we are making the right decisions for our district’s future success. 
Charles McNeil
 I think it would be prudent to reserve judgment in that regard until I have a chance to interact with the administration personnel in an official capacity. The concerns are sobering for me, and I certainly do not dismiss them. However, principle dictates that I extend every courtesy to the professionals of the District, and that includes allowing the leadership team an opportunity to prove themselves to me. 

AT LARGE

Doyla Burrell
  Not at all. The leadership  allowed our campuses to be poorly maintained to the price tag of $66 million. They are proposing a $122 million HS#3  what will be the ability of the leadership to properly maintain this building when they have not maintained the other 22 school campuses?  

Vanessa Petrea
  I believe our district needs strong, visionary leadership to address the multifaceted challenges faced by our district. Unfortunately, I have not witnessed the kind of leadership from our current district administration that is required to really push the needle forward on some very critical issues.   

6. What is one issue that’s not being talked about and should be getting attention? 

DISTRICT 1

Michelle Carey
  I am concerned that our 3rd high school is going to receive increased funding for CTE programs that will not best serve that demographic. I think the direct graduation to workforce opportunities such as cosmetology, electrical, plumbing certifications and auto mechanics should be built into all of the high schools, but I am interested in examining these programs to ensure that the unique needs at each campus are best served through careful allocation of funds to those programs.   

Teresa Tobias
 Although, I know our district has areas of concern that need our attention, we do have great things happening at Hays CISD. I don’t believe that we celebrate our successes as much as we should. Everyday, I am reminded of how amazing our Hays CISD students are. They are winning competitions, succeeding academically, and being recognized nationally for their accomplishments. Sometimes it’s good to take a step back and appreciate our district accomplishments. 
Charles McNeil
  From what I have seen, it appears as though everything under the sun is being addressed. If there is one thing that always could use more attention, it is innovation. Local government works as a large machine, and can be slow to change, but we owe it to our constituency to be ever mindful that an evolving world demands innovative solutions. Continuing to do things as we have always done them is never an appropriate answer. 

AT LARGE

Doyla Burrell
  The understaffing of our campuses.  Even though the board has approved recent hires we are still understaffed. This affects students learning.  

Vanessa Petrea
 Academic standards have slipped in our district over the past few years. At the high school level, our students are below the state averages on Advanced Placement (AP) tests. The Texas Education Agency also stepped in and required the district to create a Targeted Improvement Plan for our low performing campus along with a plan for improvement for our Special Education and English Language Learners. As a district, we need to be having more conversations about curriculum, supporting our educators and raising academic standards.  

7. What was the last movie you saw in theaters?

DISTRICT 1

Michelle Carey
 I had a mother and son date to the movies a couple months ago and we saw “The Space Between Us”, it was pretty good!  

Teresa Tobias
 I went to see the movie Trolls with my children.. Great movie! 
Charles McNeil
  Sing 

AT LARGE

Doyla Burrell
 Star Trek Beyond

Vanessa Petrea
 My kids and I went to see Beauty and the Beast. We love all things Disney!  

What else is on the ballot? 

Proposed May 2017 Hays CISD Bond – $250,000,000

Proposition 1 – $189,850,000

High school 3 – $122,000,000
Elementary school 14 – $33,925,000
Elementary school 15 – $33,925,000

Proposition 2  – $60,150,000

District wide improvements – $9,413,479
Transportation facility – $16,062,000
Technology, infrastructure upgrades – $1,012,200
Roofing and HVAC replacements – $9,304,921
Lehman High Auto Technology building – $3,127,000
Library upgrades – $978,000
Security/surveillance – $300,000
Music building replacement at Hays High  – $8,480,000
Hays High veterinarian technology facility – $550,000
Lehman High veterinarian technology facility – $1,764,400
Hays High auto technology expansion – $100,000
Hays High broadcasting studio remodel – $650,000
Lehman High broadcasting studio – $590,000
Hays and Lehman High STEM equipment – $236,000
Bleachers, lights and scoreboard at Dahlstrom Middle School – $454,000
Books for libraries – $822,000
Bleachers, lights and scoreboard at Wallace Middle School – $473,000
Bleachers and press box at Lehman High – $345,000
Hays High culinary arts addition – $1,888,000
Hays High baseball/softball complex – $3,600,000

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

The original posting incorrectly listed the candidates’ positions and has been revised.

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