Tommy Snyder is challenging incumbent Louie Sullins for the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD board of trustees Place 3 seat in the May 4 election.
Community Impact Newspaper sent Snyder a list of questions about his candidacy. This article is part of ongoing May 4 election coverage and does not constitute an endorsement of the candidate. His responses below have been edited for publication style.
Why did you decide to run for this position?
We are a proud [Grapevine-Colleyville ISD] family for 14 years with a sixth grader at Colleyville Middle [School], and like many parents, we had a superficial understanding of the school board and administration. When our son experienced educational challenges, we were forced to get a better understanding of how district policies get created and implemented.
One thing I learned that concerned me was that more of our school tax revenue goes into paying off loans, facilities and administration than into our classrooms. Surprisingly, we have some of the lowest-paid teachers in the area while replacing traditional teaching with “educational technology” and student “self-learning.” The promise of Lead 2021 transitioning from traditional teaching platforms to “learning based” platforms and technology is not working and should be reconsidered.
Students learn best with a traditional teaching model of teachers working with students in the classroom, and there are legitimate questions right now in the educational community about relying on so much technology. I can offer solutions to some of the dilemmas that many parents of children in our district are facing from our teachers that need to be paid more to—and especially for—our students who deserve the very best resources so that they can have the education we all hope for living in GCISD.
What experience—professionally or politically—do you have that would prepare you for this position?
First, I am a parent, and like most parents in GCISD volunteering their time and efforts, we want our kids to have an excellent education. That education, although geared toward our students, has a lot of moving parts. As the CEO of a company, I have learned leadership means making tough decisions and directing limited budget dollars where they have the greatest impact. We should do the same with our schools.
The priority should be working to improve our district’s academic performance across the board regardless of whether you have an honors, academically challenged or disabled student. The U.S. Army taught me that there is no better weapon than teamwork. Working together to improve academic performance is the goal, and creating solutions that measure these improvements will be a win for our teachers, taxpayers and, most importantly, our students.
What do you think is one of the biggest issues facing Grapevine-Colleyville ISD, and how do you plan to address it on the board of trustees?
I think the district needs a strong, independent voice on the board. Austin lobby influence and poor oversight have resulted in an increase of school-related property taxes while academic performance has not improved. The board has already suggested another 8.5 percent increase for this budgeted year. So, we are spending a lot more but not seeing any tangible results.
We also have an unbelievable $680 million of debt that our community and children will be digging out of for decades to come. I plan on addressing this by sponsoring a comprehensive review of specific academic performance trends along with their corresponding investments to get a real understanding of whether we are getting a good deal. If not, maybe it’s time to reconsider the current strategy altogether.
This means taking an honest look at how our district is truly performing based on spending, debt and tax levels. The overall district scorecard today is mixed at best, so we need to look hard at our current state and ask ourselves if we are doing what really works. I want to concentrate on the people that make GCISD an exemplary school district, the teachers and the students while never forgetting our responsibility to our taxpayers.
What else do you want voters to know about you?
I am a veteran of the U.S. Army assigned to the office of the chief of staff of the army at The Pentagon and the White House Communications Agency during the Reagan-Bush administration. My wife and I live in Colleyville and attend Gateway Church.
More information about Snyder and his campaign can be found here.