Q&A's: Meet the candidates running for Georgetown ISD school board Place 7

Meet the candidates running for Georgetown ISD school board Place 7. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Meet the candidates running for Georgetown ISD school board Place 7. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)

Meet the candidates running for Georgetown ISD school board Place 7. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)



AUSTIN



Georgetown ISD Place 7










Stephen Benold



Occupation: family physician and certified financial planner


Experience: served on the boards of multiple nonprofit organizations, including the office of president; experience in medicine and health, financial planning and management, and adult teaching






Why are you the best candidate for the position?



SB: I am the best candidate because I represent change and not the status quo. The present educational plan for our students is clearly not working. When your current methods are not working, then those methods need to change.



How will you help GISD recover from the effects of COVID-19 and the winter storms?



SB: I think that the current administration is doing all that they can to overcome the COVID-19 and recent blizzard conditions. We clearly have lost an entire year of effective education, but resolution of that problem will have to be solved by professional educators.



What GISD board of trustees project or policy initiative needs to take priority and why?



SB: My priority project will be to work on the curriculum. The ratings of the failing schools will not improve until test scores improve, and test scores will not improve until we have a curriculum that teaches what is tested. This is a priority because we don't have long to avoid state intervention unless this situation improves.









Jeff Siegismund



Occupation: business planning lead


Experience: 14 years in high-paced corporate business environments focusing on financial planning and business management






Why are you the best candidate for the position?



JS: Georgetown ISD is in need of a new voice with new ideas, and that is what I offer. My accounting degree and financial knowledge combined with business planning for locations and headcount is equivalent to how the schools and students should be managed. Coming out of a pandemic, the district must focus on spending areas that can be run more efficiently so property taxes remain unchanged and allocate funds that improve the quality of education.



How will you help GISD recover from the effects of COVID-19 and the winter storms?



JS: Both the pandemic and Texas winter storms caused interruptions and complications for education. To ensure any interruption is met head-on, there needs to be a continuity plan in place to provide education wherever possible. Technology and infrastructure are two areas we must focus resources on so that a streamlined continuation of education can be provided in the most turbulent of times.



What GISD board of trustees project or policy initiative needs to take priority and why?



JS: With the exponential growth in GISD and post-pandemic, the trustees must decide what the new district budget will look like. Many variables in the world have changed, and the money that was previously spent that did not directly contribute to the quality of education for all students must be scrutinized. I believe a bottom-up budget is required to make sure every limited dollar available is adding to the equity of our schools.









Ben Stewart (incumbent)



Occupation: senior consultant, World Wide Technology


Experience: four years of leadership as PTA treasurer and president, four years of leadership as GISD trustee Place 7, 15 years of business leadership






Why are you the best candidate for the position?



BS: Eight years of continuous, direct involvement in GISD schools and fathering two students gives me an insider’s view to how the policies we implement effect the system. Having kids in the district helps me better understand the needs of the 21st century learner and ensure the district’s vision, mission and beliefs align with these needs.



How will you help GISD recover from the effects of COVID-19 and the winter storms?



BS: National news highlights how far ahead GISD is in our response to COVID and other major catastrophes as we have had in-person learning since day one of this school year. I will continue to listen to teachers, parents and community members as we re-focus on the learning methods that work best for each student.



What GISD board of trustees project or policy initiative needs to take priority and why?



BS: Continued focus on social and emotional wellness programs will ensure that kids are ready and capable of learning, which will help improve test scores across the board. Continued support and investments in programs that engage kids and prepare them for college, career or the military and will ensure that we continue producing future-ready young adults.


By Ali Linan
Ali Linan began covering Georgetown for Community Impact Newspaper in 2018. Her reporting focuses on education and Williamson County. Ali hails from El Paso and graduated from Syracuse University in 2017.


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