HCISD School Board Candidates

Below are questionnaires returned by candidates running for a pair of Hays CISD board of trustee seats up for grabs May 5. In the race for the Trustee At-Large seat are candidates Will McManus, Susan Gray and Michelle Cohen. In the race for the District 3 seat are incumbent Bert Bronaugh, Jr. as well as candidates Michael Sanchez and Valerie Hopkins. Early voting continues through May 1 with Election Day May 5

Susan Gray

What are some ways you plan to help Hays CISD manage growth, if elected?
In any school district, there must be persons committed to the ongoing growth of the district and must be in communication with the city and county, and aware of permits granted for new developments. As these new developments are being planned, the district must also be forecasting what the impact will be on current campuses and be able to determine when new campuses become a need. The one thing you do not want to have happen is to not be in front of new development and have to deal with overcrowding. It is imperative that the district stay ahead of planned growth and be willing to ask for bond proposals.

Does Hays CISD have an equity issue? If so, how do you plan to address it?
Hays CISD has a lot of room for improvement when looking at the 2017 results of the 3rd-8th grade STAAR results and the 2017 End of Course results. There is a disparity in achievement between Region 13 schools, the district overall, Special Education students, Economically Disadvantaged students and English Language Learners. With almost 2,000 students identified as Special Education and 2,867 identified as Bilingual/ESL, these two populations represent approximately 1/4 of the total student enrollment in grades 3-8.

I am passionate about students being able to read on grade level. This would be one of my major initiatives as a school board member. I have a lot of data to say that direct, intensive, focused interventions do work and I would want to work with the Curriculum Director, the Special Education Director and the Bilingual Director to find new ways to make a difference in student success.

What traits do you possess that your opponent does not?
First and foremost, public education has been my life for over 30 years, first working at Texas State University in the education research department while I completed my undergraduate degree, and then teaching Special Education for 11 years. Wanting to make a larger impact in the world of education, I earned my Masters in Educational Leadership and became a Special Education/Dyslexia/504 Director. After 10 years, I came back to the Austin area and worked as a Behavior/Autism Specialist.

Currently, I work at Texas Educational Consultative Services (TECS, Inc.) consulting with approximately 75 school districts across the state helping them with federal funding and programming.

Do you feel Hays CISD aligns its curriculum well? Is there any part of the curriculum you would like to expand? I would like for the district to consider looking at students who do not read on grade level and consider implementing intensive, focused and evidence-based programs that would ensure that students would be able to read on grade level.  I cannot stress enough how important it is that students read on grade level.

Do you think Hays CISD needs a future bond? If so, would you support it and when should the district do this? Again, as I answered in question one, the district should have persons who are staying informed regarding permits that have been granted for new developments that will impact campus growth. Once the projected growth reaches a critical point, then I would be in favoring in asking for a future bond.

What specific practices will you implement to keep in contact with constituents?
I would commit to having my email and phone number available to parents and staff in the district so that I could be reached regarding any district issues. I would also consider creating social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) where constituents could be kept up to date with issues that the district may be facing, and where they could also contact me.


What is one issue not being talked about that should be?
I think that everyone in Hays CISD who is registered to vote needs to do their homework to determine the most education friendly politicians running for public office. When our state legislature is pushing for vouchers, people need to know that means less funding for public education. The legislature also needs to consider opening the rainy-day fund and fully fund public education. I am opposed to the legislature stating that districts just need to increase the tax rate. We need fully funded public education which we will only get if education friendly politicians are voted in in November.

What is your favorite dessert?
Any in-season fresh fruit, particularly ripe watermelon!

Will McManus


What are some ways you plan to help Hays CISD manage growth, if elected?
Growth is indeed a reality for our community. Recent data ranks us as the fourth fastest growing county in the nation. We all see it and know that more is coming. It also means we cannot ignore it so let’s work directly with Hays County and the cities of Buda and Kyle. We can’t operate in a vacuum, and more open dialog is a must if we have any hope of managing our growth.

Does Hays CISD have an equity issue? If so, how do you plan to address it?
Let’s instead discuss this as an equal opportunity issue. Does every campus have access to similar resources so that all of our student populations are receiving an equitable and excellent education? We’ve expanded the Saturn V STEM program and will introduce a fine art focused campus at Fuentes. This effort continues our mission of bringing exciting learning opportunities all across our district. I will work to bring more of this type of educational opportunity to all Hays CISD campuses.

What traits do you possess that your opponent does not?
As a senior executive at a large construction company, I have many years of setting strategy, enacting the plans to be successful, hiring the best, and managing effective budgets. This level of senior business experience along with my knowledge of the construction industry will blend well with those on the board, and neither of my opponents has this combination. 

Do you feel Hays CISD aligns its curriculum well? Is there any part of the curriculum you would like to expand? The feedback I have received on curriculum is not only about a lack of alignment but that there is little freedom for our excellent teachers to do what they do best – teach! At work, we pull from the completion date to the start of a project to determine the best schedule, and I think we need to take the same approach with our students. Let’s begin with the end in mind and work our way down to pre-k from what we define as a fully functional high school graduate with each successive grade successfully building on the one before it. 

Do you think Hays CISD needs a future bond? If so, would you support it and when should the district do this? Our growth and our ability to manage debt will dictate this rather than my opinion. However, we have to be smarter with our budgets and how we approach construction projects to make sure that we are getting the most bang for the buck. I know we will need more buildings, but our budget will determine what we can spend. I will support smart, affordable bonds that provide safe and effective environments for our students and teachers. We do not need to be in the business of winning awards for architecture. 

What specific practices will you implement to keep in contact with constituents?
This has been asked several times by a variety of people so I am going to make a real effort to improve transparency. I will be involved with campus-level PTA’s and booster organizations as well as partner with the administration to host forums that are away from regular board meetings. I also commit to being an active listener and will take issues seriously as they are brought to me. 

What is one issue not being talked about that should be?
The disparity in participation rates in AP classes at Hays and Lehman. Hays is essentially double the number of students than at Lehman. It’s an ongoing problem, and even though mentioned at board meetings I have yet to see a real plan to actively engage the Lehman student population to get additional students enrolled. More needs to be done.

 What is your favorite dessert?
Cheesecake!

Michelle Cohen


What are some ways you plan to help Hays CISD manage growth, if elected?
I believe that Hays CISD is taking a proactive approach in managing the eventual growth of the district by building new schools, however, new schools necessitates the need for more teachers. I would like to see a more aggressive move in the recruitment of quality teachers as well as retention of the teachers we have currently. More schools won’t work if we don’t have the staff to fill them.

Does Hays CISD have an equity issue? If so, how do you plan to address it?
Yes. “Inequality” in the district appears to be an issue. If this were not an issue, we would not have two underperforming schools in a specific area and demographic. My mission is to ensure that equality exists and each student has the opportunity to excel at every academic level.

What traits do you possess that your opponent does not?
As a former state purchaser and contract specialist, I am familiar with proper bidding and award process of proposed contracts. I have dedicated my life’s work to building effective leadership and recognizing when certain leadership is not working.  I am a problem solver and passionate about seeing each student reach they’re fullest potential beyond High school.

Do you feel Hays CISD aligns its curriculum well? Is there any part of the curriculum you would like to expand? Hays CISD’s curriculum needs to be improved to meet ALL needs of our kids in all areas of their curriculum. I would like to see programs that expand on leadership, improved ESL programs and STEM programs.

Do you think Hays CISD needs a future bond? If so, would you support it and when should the district do this? Future bonds are inevitable in a growing school district. The key is proposing new bonds that are validated and justified, budgetary impact that is diligently evaluated and that community input and feedback is received. I will always be supportive of new bonds that improve the education of our students and provide positive impacts to teachers and staff.

What specific practices will you implement to keep in contact with constituents?
I am a believer of constant interaction with the community. The biggest feedback I receive is that the communication between the administrators and the community is not significant. With the advancement of vast media outlets, there should not be a reason to not reach our community. However, nothing replaces the face-to-face interaction of people. Listening to their concerns, understanding their stresses and showing compassion when it comes to our kids is paramount.

What is one issue not being talked about that should be?
As a long time resident and former student of Hays CISD, there has always been inequality of academic resources between campuses. Some may not want to believe that there is an issue but its there. I want to bring all issues to the forefront and address them accordingly.

What is your favorite dessert?
Crème Brule

Valerie Hopkins

 

 

 

 

What are some ways you plan to help Hays CISD manage growth, if elected?
1. Identify low performing schools and support the teachers with the tools needed to assist those students.
2. Improve academics and strengthen our extra-curriculum by offering unique programs in order to attract students, and families to move into our district.

Does Hays CISD have an equity issue? If so, how do you plan to address it?
1. Yes, the equity divide is the lack of consistency for every student in Hays CISD due to the financial difference between west & east side of Buda.
2. Evaluate Hays CISD academic integrity in order to identify students not reaching their full potential.

What traits do you possess that your opponent does not?
I have worked within the public school district for 23 years. I have experience working within the educational level, as well as working with students, parents, and the community.

Do you feel Hays CISD aligns its curriculum well? Is there any part of the curriculum you would like to expand? Yes in most cases, but Hays CISD does have the opportunity to align its curriculum more soundly. I would like to expand our CTE program with additional ACC Technical Certifications. In order to assist our students with the experience in high skill, high wage, and high-demand professions.

Do you think Hays CISD needs a future bond? If so, would you support it and when should the district do this? I would only support a future bond if there’s firm data of student growth that would support this decision. This data would need be tracked consistently over a length of time in order to have solid facts before proposing a bond to the community.

What specific practices will you implement to keep in contact with constituents?
Emails, Phone, face to face meetings (listening to the constituents concerns)

What is one issue not being talked about that should be?
Financial & Ethical responsibility of the low performance of the district administration and school board electives.

What is your favorite dessert?
HUMBLE PIE

School Board Election May 5th

Early Voting Locations
Hays CISD Central Office
21003 Interstate 35
Kyle, Texas 78640

Buda Elementary (Upper Campus)
300 San Marcos
Buda, Texas 78610

Election Day Locations (Polls open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.)
District 1 –  
Hays CISD Central Office
21003 Interstate 35
Kyle, Texas 78640

District 2 –
Tobias Elementary School
1005 East FM 150
Kyle, Texas 78640

District 3 – 
Chapa Middle School
3311 Dacy Lane
Kyle, Texas 78640

District 4 – 
Hays Hills Baptist Church
1401 North FM 1626
Buda, Texas 78610

District 5 A & B – 
Wallace Middle School
1500 West Center Street
Kyle, Texas 78640

Comment on this Article

About Author

Comments are closed.