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 Tracy Miller, 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?
TM: I average 17-20+ hours a week, including community/parent/advocacy efforts, campus visits/tour invites, visits/conversations with community and legislative representatives as well as official board/committee meetings.
LTJ: How have you served the school district prior to filing?
TM: I am the current Place 7 LISD Trustee. In addition, I was a booster parent and a city councilman in LISD, and I participated in “Inside LISD.” Our Rotarian group works with Circle of Friends on our campuses.
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?
TM: I would continue to advocate for students, parents, educators, and community members. This is very important for me, and I will continue my research, as well as listening to and learning from a broad set of stakeholders, as I’ve done prior to all my votes (including city council votes) that are on record since 2002.
LTJ: What do you want to do as a board member that you could not do as a dedicated resident?
TM: As a Trustee, I can work with the board and staff to effect changes on behalf of the students, families and educators in our district. The responsibilities of a trustee are very significant and yet laden with statutory and policy constraints. With my public service experience (10+ years on city council), I can effectively enact process or policy changes under the conditions set forth in the Texas Constitution, Article 7, Section 3 and related statutes and Texas Government Code.
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?
TM: Transparency has improved for the district. The board strives to better communicate meeting requirements, and processes, for example. All our board meetings are recorded and can be viewed through live streaming, or later by video. The district is continually looking for ways to better communicate with parents and the public through different communication channels.
Relative to changes, I support the intent of an April agenda item which will increase the communications venues and frequency, and provide greater clarity around the district calendar.
LTJ: What is the most pressing issue facing the district? What steps would you take to amend said issue?
TM: While enrollment numbers have stabilized, the needs of our students are increasing. $.81 of every dollar goes to our classrooms. This reflects our commitment to best serve our students by spending funds where it benefits them the most.
Texas’s state funding for public education continues to be a challenge. My record on actions taken to reduce our expenses, yet provide for our teachers, empower educators and find collaborative solutions with the members of the board and district staff speaks for itself. Our district seeks to deliver services efficiently and effectively. I will continue to support this.
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?
TM: While it is easy to critique in hindsight, and I respect the complexity of previous boards’ decisions, I would have preferred to solve the Lewisville High School triad differently. I would have built Marcus 9 and Flower Mound 9 in the same style as Hebron, thus reducing the construction and operations costs for all three campuses (Marcus, Flower Mound and Lewisville).
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?
TM: I’m not familiar with the response to which you refer, so I cannot comment specifically about it. District leadership has been clear that there are five or six viable options for campus assignments based on demographer input and other variables. The district and campus leadership are in the process of formulating more detailed options to present to the board. A committee, chaired by Dr. Rogers, will include a trustee, Hedrick ES staff, Hedrick ES parents and community leaders who will all be involved in making these recommendations.
The district has been clear and consistent that all our Hedrick ES staff will be taken care of and ALL current services (school supplies, free meals, transportation, etc.) will be continued for Hedrick ES students. LISD will involve people closest to the Hedrick community’s needs to work with the district through this transition. The district has a firm commitment to best serve not only the Hedrick ES and Hedrick MS students, but all 53,000 students across our communities.
Any time the district considers a decision involving rezoning, there are difficult choices which must be made. We can agree that Hedrick is a complicated issue, and one that will require creative solutions.
However, it’s that the community remember that a fantastic middle school will be built on that location and ultimately serve the same students we are speaking of in the question.
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?
TM: First, please remember that the bond funds would be spent over a number of years. This is not like a home mortgage where the debt is issued at once. As LISD would draw down new bond funds, the district would also be repaying outstanding debt.
As a member of the board facility committee and technology committee, I will continue to advocate conservatism in the way we scope, build and run our facilities. My track record should speak for itself.
I am proud of votes I’ve made to save $58 million to date and an additional $10 million pending our April vote regarding bond refinancing, which have not extended the payoff timeline. Because of my relationship with community leaders, LISD staff and the existing board members, I can assist with cost/project containment and commitments made in this referendum.
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?
TM: I am confident and comfortable with the way we currently handle sensitive issues for our 53,000 students today. Parents and employees have access to the board in a very fair and confidential way. This process culminates with a Level III hearing, which is board-level. There has only been one parent grievance raised to the board level since I’ve been a trustee and I made the motion that resulted in the formation of a committee of staff, parents and community leaders that has ultimately led to our highly recognized Cultural Diversity and Restorative Justice initiatives. LISD students are and will continue to be our priority. My track record of advocacy and transparency on this is available and consistent.