The Lewisville Texan Journal sent a list of questions to Lewisville ISD school board candidates to familiarize voters with each potential trustee. Each candidate had two weeks to return their answers. Answers from candidates who participated are published as received, unedited.
Early voting for the May election begins April 24 and continues until May 2. Election day is May 6. Voters will decide who will be the city council members, who will serve on the school board of trustees, and whether or not to accept a bond package proposal from LISD.
Here are the responses sent to us from Jon Hanna, who is running for Place 6.
LTJ: How much of your time on average per week are you committed to giving voters for this position?
JH: This is a serious obligation and I’m committed to serving the people of this district. I will give as much time as possible outside of my regular job.
LTJ: How have you served the school district prior to filing?
JH: I’ve not served in any official capacity.
LTJ: How do you plan to interface with the public if you are elected? To what extent would you let public input affect your decisions as a board member?
JH: Since the Board of Trustees is a public office that decides how taxpayer dollars are spent, I take this responsibility seriously. Communicating with parents, students, employees, residents and other government officials is of the utmost importance. I believe it requires me to be available at public functions and through electronic means. It means actively seeking opinions and input. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen with the decision to close Hedrick, public opinion is critical and I believe it’s my duty to seek it out and consider it.
LTJ: What do you want to do as a board member that you could not do as a dedicated resident?
JH: I expect to have access to information not necessarily available to the public that will allow me to influence Board decisions. As an example, I want to see our teachers compensated for their experience and provided a health care plan that meets their needs.
LTJ: Do you think the district is doing enough to provide transparency in decision-making and accountability to the public? What would you change, if anything?
JH: In short, no. The decision to close Hedrick is a perfect example. My understanding is a committee provided recommendations and the Board made a decision based solely on those. Who else saw the recommendations and why didn’t the public have an opportunity to provide input, such as a hearing? Was there any attempt by the Board to solicit any input outside the committee?
LTJ: What is the most pressing issue facing the district? What steps would you take to amend said issue?
JH: At this point, whether the bond up for vote in May passes or not.
LTJ: If you could point to any particular policy, project or direction in the district’s past history that you could go back in time and undo, what would it be?
JH: I would revisit the race to acquire technology. It didn’t seem to be planned or implemented very well.
LTJ: The current board has accepted a decision to not rebuild Hedrick Elementary and approved sending that decision to the voters in the bond election. Yet LISD has said it will not tell voters where those students will go until later. Do you think this provides an adequate level of transparency, and do you think, as a board member, you would be willing to reexamine those plans?
JH: I believe transparency has been lacking in this decision, but frankly I think the Board doesn’t have a plan for where the students will go at this point, so it’s not a question of them not wanting to tell voters. It’s kind of like the adage, shoot first and ask questions later. I would definitely be willing to re-examine the plan if the bond is not approved. Public input is extremely important and must be considered.
LTJ: The voters are poised to grant this district three quarters of a billion in bond money for construction projects and tech purchases in the district. How do you as a board member ensure accountability for staying true to the district’s needs and maintaining good stewardship of that money?
JH: Accountability of this money is of the utmost importance and is the impetus for my entering as a candidate. As I’m not aware of the methods a Board member can use to stay abreast of expenditures, I will delay any specific details until after the election.
LTJ: A recent court case has shone a light on LISD’s duties to protect students against sexual assault, harassment, bullying and retaliation. Though LISD was not found liable for retaliation, that case has shaken the faith of many in LISD’s ability to take allegations seriously and protect student victims of crime from their assailants. As a board member, what would you do to ensure that staff react appropriately? How would you assure parents that their children are safe in Lewisville ISD?
JH: I believe it must be made clear, through training of employees and students, that the behavior in the case you reference, as well as all behaviors you reference, will not be tolerated. Training must be on-going at all levels of staff. Communicating to our parents the district policies on how these behaviors will be handled has to happen and most importantly, any violation must be investigated and dealt with swiftly and fairly. On-going training as it is scheduled must be made public, so people know the district is taking the aftermath of this tragedy seriously.