Q&A: Amy Putnam is running for GCISD board of trustees, Place 2

Election Day is Saturday, May 5.

Election Day is Saturday, May 5.

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2018 Local Election Guide
Amy Putnam is running for the Grapevine-Colleyville board of trustees Place 2 seat.

She will run against incumbent Becky St. John and Nick Walters in the election May 5.

Community Impact Newspaper sent Putnam a series of questions about her candidacy. Her written responses, edited for publication style, are below.

Q: What is your current occupation?
I am currently a stay-at-home mom of three boys, Tanner, 19, Court, 17, and Jack, 12, and my husband of 29 years who is a technology executive. I was formerly a classroom teacher for both Arlington and Carroll ISDs with a B.S. in education from TCU and master's in educational counseling from UNT.

Q: Why did you decide to run for this office?
I decided to run for office because I have been involved with public education all of my life. [I] love our district and teachers. I have been fortunate to watch and help my three boys grow in GCISD. I want GCISD to continue to be an aspirational district but believe we are at a crossroads and need a fresh voice and alternative perspective. We are spending, borrowing and taxing more than we ever have and our academic achievement is simply not improving. I believe it is time to consider new strategies in terms of how the district is managed financially, and the choices we are making about how to allocate our financial and human resources in a way that actually improves our academic performance. 

Q: What experience—professionally or politically—do you have that would prepare you for this position?
I earned my Bachelor of Science in education from TCU in 1990 and began teaching in Southlake/Carroll and Arlington. Shortly into my teaching career, I knew I wanted further training because I loved the students and the schools. I completed my master's in education from the University of North Texas, specializing in counseling in 2000 while working as a classroom teacher. As soon as my first son began kindergarten, I began volunteering heavily at his school. By the time my second son began school, I was helping in the counseling office as well as holding a couple positions on the PTA. I earned a Lifetime PTA Award just before moving all three of my sons to GCISD. Once in GCISD, I volunteered at Grapevine High School and became the booster representative for GHS Tennis. I have remained heavily involved in education since earning my degree, and I have also helped my husband run and win a City Council seat.

Q: If elected, what would be your top priorities?
It’s time to evaluate the Lead 2021 strategy from the ground up and ask ourselves, “Is this really what success looks like?” Our annual budget of $228 million has increased 16 percent in just one academic year alone to educate approximately 13,000 students, and we’re running an annual deficit of $6.5 million. We have a total debt obligation of an astounding $750 million. Our property taxes have skyrocketed from all this spending and debt service with many people now being priced out of their homes and forced to move or downsize. In the meantime, by any objective measure and particularly the one is that is objective relative to every other district in the country, SAT and ACT scores, we are not seeing academic improvement. We need to evaluate whether our students and community are getting an adequate return on investment as a result. I want to double-down on putting as much of our tax dollars into the classroom as absolutely possible. That means taking a zero-based budgeting approach every single budget year and evaluating every dollar spent to reduce administrative costs as much as we possibly can. We have some of the lowest-paid teachers in the area. That needs to be corrected immediately but it won’t come without some difficult choices and trade-offs.

I also want to restore accountability and transparency to the district. Rather than continue to point fingers at the state Legislature and other government entities when it comes to the tax problem, I believe we need to own and work on our end of the problem. The board is 100 percent responsible for setting the tax rate, controlling the “revenue” and ultimately how much we pay in taxes. The district should pass a formal resolution demanding an end to Robin Hood in the next legislative session, but also start a public discussion about our own spending and debt management practices. That’s something you never hear today. There is just a demand for more and more taxpayer money when the results haven’t proven we are making the best use of what we have today.

Lastly, many parents are concerned about the overuse or dependency on technology in our classrooms, particularly in light of the many recent studies linking children and adolescents’ overuse of technology to dissociative behavioral tendencies. Parents also want to want to be able to monitor what their children are learning and the curriculum choices the district is making. There are some frightening recent examples of materials our kids have been exposed to using these technology platforms. We need to find an appropriate balance for the use of technology and ensure parents are partners in the content and curriculum choices the district is making.

Q: What else do you want constituents to know about you and your background?
My background includes many different viewpoints across our educational system so I have a comprehensive perspective of the issues students and teachers face. As a mom to three kids in the district, I have sat on the other side of the table as an advocate for my children. I earned awards from two different districts' PTAs for my commitment to hundreds of my children’s friends and classmates, as well as their teachers. And as booster [representative] for our two-time state championship tennis team, I worked closely with administrators and parents and understand the value and importance extracurricular activities have on the complete student experience.
By Miranda Jaimes

Editor, Frisco & McKinney

Miranda joined Community Impact Newspaper as an editor in August 2017 with the Grapevine/Colleyville/Southlake edition. In 2019 she transitioned to editor for the McKinney edition. She began covering Frisco as well in 2020. Miranda covers local government, transportation, business and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Miranda served as managing editor for The Prosper Press, The Anna-Melissa Tribune and The Van Alstyne Leader, and before that reported and did design for The Herald Democrat, a daily newspaper in Grayson County. She graduated with a degree in journalism from Oklahoma Christian University in 2014.