Election Q&A: Candidates for Lake Travis ISD board of trustees Place 2

Meet the candidates running for Lake Travis ISD Place 2. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Meet the candidates running for Lake Travis ISD Place 2. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Meet the candidates running for Lake Travis ISD Place 2. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Learn more about the candidates running for the Lake Travis ISD Place 2 seat ahead of the May 1 election. Early voting is April 19-27.


Editor’s note: Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name. An asterisk (*) indicates the candidate is an incumbent.


AUSTIN



Lake Travis ISD Place 2










Kara Bell



Occupation: children's advocate


Experience: In 2019 I halted the spraying of toxic chemicals on three San Juan Unified School District schools after uncovering the fact that O'Connell Landscape and LARMAC Homeowners Association were illegally spraying cancer-causing chemicals on school fields for the past 19 years, violating the Healthy Schools Act, and putting thousands of children and teachers in a potentially toxic environment. In 2015 I was directly responsible for bringing Champions Against Bullying to Serra Catholic School children and parents to educate them on bullying prevention. From 2010-17 I served on the PTO for Serra Catholic School and started the Parent Connection giving parents a voice. I graduated from Arizona State University with a BA in psychology with an emphasis in child psychology. After college I spent over a decade in pharmaceutical sales and fundraising. If we ever fall short on the budget, I will put my fundraising skills to good use for our students.






Why are you running for the Lake Travis ISD board of trustees?



KB: I know I can be a voice between the board of trustees, parents and teachers. I believe I can use my experience to collaborate with all parties to focus on putting students first. By partnering with parents and supporting teachers, everyone wins but most importantly our students.



What are the biggest issues facing the district today, and how do you plan to address them if elected?



KB: I feel the biggest issues today are the psychological consequences of the pandemic, bullying, teacher support/compensation, and the lack of partnership with parents. To address these issues, we need parents, teachers, counselors, and mental health clinicians to take an active role in helping our youth process the past year and overcome adverse effects. The resilience of children has always been inspiring to me, and I look forward to helping our youth get back on track. Bullying prevention education has always been on my heart, and I want to explore implementing a more robust program for K-12 grade. As a board member, I will focus on teacher compensation to ensure we are competitive and able to attract and retain the best teachers. Texas Education Code 26.001 states that "Parents are partners with educators." We can't be in partnership with educators when we are not allowed in classrooms. This is an easy fix; parents need to be allowed back in the classrooms, especially with our younger grades.









Lauren White*



Occupation: former elementary and special education teacher


Experience: I am currently a member of the board of trustees of the LTISD, having been elected in 2018. I was selected to participate in the 2020-21 Leadership Class for the Texas Association of School Boards. Trustees are selected for this intensive leadership program based on their record of local leadership. I was also selected by fellow LTISD trustees to represent the district at the TASB convention in 2019 and 2020. Locally, I have served as an ex-officio member of the 2019 Rezoning Committee and the 2021 District of Innovation Committee. I am a member of the Central Texas School Board Association and the School Board Advocacy Network. I have advocated for the needs of Lake Travis ISD at the state level. I graduated from Vanderbilt University with a double major in elementary and special education, and I taught for a decade in the public schools of Washington, D.C., and Austin.






Why are you running for the Lake Travis ISD board of trustees?



LW: It has been an honor to serve as a trustee for the last three years. I am proud of what we have accomplished, but there is still a lot of important work to be done. I want to use my experience as a trustee to help LTISD navigate the special challenges that it is facing, including assisting with the post-pandemic recovery and responding to community growth. Also, at this transformative time in public education, we have an opportunity to innovate and improve the education we provide. We must ensure expanded access to programs that work to help students with academic gaps and social and emotional concerns. This is also a time to look for new solutions, like expanded peer-to-peer mental health support, supplemental learning opportunities and additional programming like robotics that engages students in important learning. Public education is one of the most important functions of government, and I am running for re-election because I know I have more to contribute to Lake Travis ISD.



What are the biggest issues facing the district today, and how do you plan to address them if elected?



LW: Student mental health and wellness were a concern before the pandemic, and it is even more of a concern now. Also, students will have a range of academic needs following the pandemic, and we must provide additional support. The fast growth in Lake Travis presents another critical challenge. We must plan carefully for facilities, staff and programming to meet the needs of our expanding community. As we grow, it’s important that we work to preserve the experience that makes LTISD a destination district. All of these challenges require funding. We must carefully allocate our limited tax dollars and focus on expenditures that have the biggest impact on students. As we add programs to meet evolving student and community needs, we must also look to eliminate expenditures that are not serving our students. Our budget is heavily dependent on the state, and I will continue to work with legislators to advocate for the students, teachers and staff in Lake Travis ISD.


By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


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