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 Kristi Hassett, 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?
KH: Currently we have either a board meeting, board workshop or board committee meeting about once each week. Those meetings vary in length. I also have 1-2 activities per week, including visiting a school or attending a fine arts, athletic or school event. I also spend at least 15 hours per week on current education articles as well as state and federal education policy articles and studies.
LTJ: How have you served the school district prior to filing?
1. LISD Board of Trustees from 2014-current
2. INSIDE LISD (Interested Neighbors Staying Informed of District Efforts)
3. LISD House Bill 5 Committee
4. Parkway Elementary PTA
5. Wellington Elementary PTA
6. Wellington Elementary Yearbook Editor
7. McKamy Middle School PTA
8. Flower Mound High School PTSA
9. LISD Council of PTSAs
10. FMHS Golf Booster Club
11. Received Texas PTA Life Membership Award
12. Communities in Schools Lunch with Leaders at Hedrick Elementary and Lakeland Elementary
13. Testified for our students in the Texas House Public Education and Senate Education committees
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?
KH: I would like to start a monthly “Coffee Talk” for community members to speak to board members. Public input affects my decisions greatly. Currently, I seek input from parents, students, teachers, staff, education experts and current research articles; every group provides unique and valuable information.
LTJ: What do you want to do as a board member that you could not do as a dedicated resident?
KH: I would be able to affect board policy and district budgeting decisions.
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?
KH: During the April board meeting, I requested the district implement a “subscribe” function for community members to receive emails when board meetings are posted. Each school’s website, as well as the district’s home page, lists valuable district information. Additionally, the district uses the call out feature for pressing information. Communication is a journey that is never finished. The district has increased communication avenues to provide transparency and information since I became a board member, and I want to continue improving those efforts going forward.
LTJ: What is the most pressing issue facing the district? What steps would you take to amend said issue?
KH: Education is complex and has many internal and external forces; the largest will always be how to engage each free-willed student so they can learn. LISD must continue to provide true student engagement and improve curriculum to engage our students in the world around them and for an uncertain future.
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?
KH: I would have slowed the rollout of the iPads to allow for more teacher and staff training, especially as it relates to providing specific ways teachers could use technology to supplement learning.
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?
KH: That was an incredibly long, heavily researched and difficult decision. As a planner and information junkie, I completely understand the desire for information about the future. I do believe the district has fully disclosed, publicly noticed, and had an open and transparent process. This move will require a lot of staff and community time to determine, and it would be unfair to the community for the district to make those decisions without engaging with the community, parents, staff, and education experts. LISD does not have a dedicated staff person to work on this full time without other responsibilities prior to the community’s vote on the bond. In the meantime, staff must ensure they are meeting the needs of all of our students this year. The district needs to be conscious of the amount of time it will take while, and I believe the district will engage in thorough and complete planning before any decisions are finalized.
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?
KH: The district has done a tremendous amount of research leading up to this bond. First, staff completed a long overdue facilities assessment of district facilities and resources. Next, administration, principals, staff, and the board took months to evaluate this data to determine the current and future needs of the district. Then the community facilities advisory committee evaluated the needs of the district in order to give a recommendation to the board. I believe the current bond presents the needs of the district, and I am willing to ensure fiscal accountability of the bond once it is approved by the voters.
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?
KH: Our schools need to remain safe places where our students can be free from the distractions associated with harassment and bullying. LISD is committed to providing those safe places, and the district has in place policies to ensure that those places remain safe. Schools and districts, including LISD, need to increase the communication of the availability of the school counselors to help students, as many students see this role as an administrator rather than a counselor. The faster the school is aware of a problem, the faster they can address the safety of our students. I believe our administration understands that, while perfection remains the goal, improvement must remain the process on a daily basis.