LISD Board Candidate Questionnaire: Sandra Weinstein

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Sandra Weinstein (Photo by Leopold Knopp)

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 Sandra Weinstein, who is running for Place 7.

LTJ: How much of your time on average per week are you committed to giving voters for this position?

SW: I am committed to giving what is needed, including weekends.

LTJ: How have you served the school district prior to filing?

SW: This is my first real opportunity to serve the school district, but I am a member of the PTA and traveled with the PTA a school board members to Austin to advocate for public schools.

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?

SW: Public input is very important to the decisions board members make. This is our community and these are our schools. I am very interested in the public’s opinion and concerns. I currently have a public Facebook page and an email that anyone can use to reach me.

LTJ: What do you want to do as a board member that you could not do as a dedicated resident?

SW: As a member of the school board I would be more effective in sharing and exchanging ideas and creating meaningful policies for addressing our most at-risk students. I would also have the visibility to legislators in Austin to advocate for or against policies that affect our schools. I can write letters and make phone calls, but the school board has more clout than an individual citizen.

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?

SW: The district could be more forthcoming in how they communicate decisions. School board meetings are open to the public and there is a website, but there is little dialogue or exchange with the public at large save a few minutes for residents to make a brief statement at the beginning of a meeting. There needs to be more dialogue and input from the community on the decisions that are being made.

LTJ: What is the most pressing issue facing the district? What steps would you take to amend said issue?

SW: There are many issues facing the district, but the most important to me is providing equal access to a high quality education to all students. Special needs students make up about 13% of the student population nationally. Yet, according to a column in the Lewisville Texan, in the LISD they comprise only 9.8-10%. I have heard from parents of students who weren’t identified as having special needs until 3rd grade or later. When this happens, time is lost, students are frustrated, their self-esteem is low and they risk losing interest in school. There is no reason that these learning differences can’t be identified by first grade at the latest. I am proposing that if any teacher or parent has a concern about a child’s ability to achieve their full potential, they be tested. I had to advocate to have my son tested in third grade because he was just getting by. Parents shouldn’t have to do that. They should be a full partner in their child’s education with the teachers and school administration. If we can identify and accommodate early, we can address the differences right away and save time and money later trying to accommodate and bring students in line with where they should be. This would also improve the graduation rate.

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?

SW: I would like to go back and reevaluate the decisions made around the use of technology in the district, how it is used, what types of technology are most effective at what grade and how are we balancing the use of technology with classroom teaching and group projects. This will ensure our children are connecting and engaging with others so as they enter the workforce they are effective in exchanging ideas and working in committees.

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?

SW: As a board member I would be willing to re-examine those plans. I do think it’s important that the students at this school get access to the same kind of high quality education available to the rest of the district. I understand the need to close one of the schools, but I would like to revisit bussing the middle schoolers instead of the primary grades.

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?

SW: My career has afforded me many opportunities to manage large, complex budgets against a set of deliverables. I’ve had to make hard choices when my budget was cut and get creative to ensure I met my deliverables. Those are skills I would bring to the school board as well. Providing stakeholders and the public at large with easy to understand documents detailing how the budget is applied is critical to demonstrating full accountability and stewardship.

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?

SW: To assure parents of their children’s safety, we need to implement a district-wide policy of providing an anonymous tip line or some form of safe communication to report sexual harassment. Any reports would be required to be investigated immediately and resolved within one week. During this time, the perpetrators of the harassment need to be separated from the victim to ensure the victim’s safety. If the matter cannot be resolved by the district within a week or the district determines that a crime has occurred, the matter needs to be turned over to the police.
As a preventive measure, health classes should include instruction on consent and the consequences of assuming consent when it is withheld or cannot be granted.

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