Q&A: Meet the candidates running for Keller ISD Place 6

Ahead of the May election, meet the three candidates running to serve as Keller ISD Place 6 trustee. (Community Impact staff)
Ahead of the May election, meet the three candidates running to serve as Keller ISD Place 6 trustee. (Community Impact staff)

Ahead of the May election, meet the three candidates running to serve as Keller ISD Place 6 trustee. (Community Impact staff)



DFW



Keller ISD Place 6















Shalunda Corzine



Occupation: human resource management at Fort Worth ISD


Experience: over 20 years as a K-12 public educator; Leadership ISD Tarrant County 2019 fellow






Why are you running for office?



SC: I am committed to serving our community by ensuring that ALL Keller ISD students have access to high-quality education that empowers them to achieve their full potential. It is critical that our children are fully prepared to take advantage of the educational and economic opportunities that abound in our nation as well as globally. I believe that our most precious resource is our children, and it is our responsibility to make sure we are being intentional in creating a culture where everyone feels seen, heard, respected and valued. That was my intention when I inquired about Keller ISD leading in creating an environment where diversity is recognized. As a result, the district’s Culture of Belonging Committee has expanded to include community members, teachers, administrators and students. I continue to remain dedicated to ensuring that all children have the opportunity to thrive in an environment where being seen, heard, respected and valued is not the exception, but the rule. I believe that Keller can be the shining example for others to follow, and that is why I am running for Keller ISD trustee Place 6. For Students ... For Schools ... For Solutions.



If elected, what would be your top three priorities?



SC: I believe collaboration and compromise are the cornerstones to developing meaningful solutions that will serve the interest of the entire community. The priorities of the school board should be driven by what is occurring in the district that affects our students and staff. We are living in a time where global events now have a direct impact on our local governance, which is why my top three priorities are:



  • Executing clear, concise health & safety plans that focus on the well-being of our students and staff during the pandemic and beyond

  • Partnering with families, students, and educators to address the “academic slide” due to COVID-19

  • Championing exceptional education fueled by fiscal policy centered around accountability and transparency




Discuss the district’s COVID-19 response and what you think is working well and what needs to change.



SC: This is an unprecedented time globally, and no one has definitive answers. I want to thank Dr. Westfall, the board, teachers and staff for working diligently to place the needs of students and families first by offering multiple methods of instruction. Recovering from the pandemic is going to take a concerted effort between families and schools along with local and state governments. My view on the district’s response:



  • Successes

    • Student/parent choice for instruction

    • 1-to-1 technology rollout



  • Opportunities

    • Clear and consistent communication

    • Real-time tracking of cases

    • Explore Keller ISD virtual instruction as a viable alternative education option




With your help and your vote, we can ensure that Keller ISD remains "intentionally exceptional" as we work together to ensure the success of ALL Keller ISD students.








Charles Randklev



Occupation: scientist


Experience: Ph.D in biology; over 10 years serving in higher education; Texas A&M; mentoring graduate students (Ph.D and MS); authored or co-authored over 40 peer-reviewed publications; sits on several advisory boards to help state agencies with wildlife education, outreach and research; Army veteran






Why are you running for office?



CR: I’m running for KISD school board Place 6 because I believe it is important to have individuals on the board who will be outspoken advocates for policies that are student-centered and benefit ALL of the KISD community. I believe it is important to have individuals on the board who are accessible and receptive, regardless of their views on a particular topic. Lastly, I believe it is important to have individuals on the board who have children in the Keller ISD school district. These beliefs are important because a school board member must build public understanding, support and participation. From my perspective, the only way to do this is by being passionate about serving others, being open-minded, willing to talk with ALL members of the community and having a vested interest in KISD. In speaking with parents, teachers and staff, many share these same beliefs and want a school board that keeps them informed; raises issues and concerns on their behalf, even when there is disagreement; and is honest and transparent with them. It is for all of these reasons that I’m running for KISD school board Place 6.



If elected, what would be your top three priorities?



CR: My top priority is to improve communication between parents, teachers and staff. One of the primary responsibilities of a trustee is to keep the community informed and to seek their input before making decisions. From my perspective, this means a trustee must be accessible and willing to work with ALL members of the community, which I plan to do if elected. My second priority is to work with the board and administration to develop a COVID-19 recovery plan. KISD has a back-to-school plan, which provides general information on the District’s response to COVID-19, but this plan does not provide a roadmap or set forth policies and criteria to get us back to normal. I believe a successful plan should respect parent choice, be guided by input from the community (parents, teachers and staff), and follow state and federal law. My third priority is to ensure KISD continues to provide an exceptional educational experience for ALL students. I believe this can be best accomplished by working with other board members to (1) support teachers; (2) help students with reading, writing and math; (3) promote STEM and vocational programs; (4) advocate for multilingual opportunities; and (5) support children with special needs.



Discuss the district’s COVID-19 response and what you think is working well and what needs to change.



CR: I believe the KISD community has been our greatest asset and strength in dealing with COVID-19. Our teachers, staff, and parents have done an extraordinary job educating students, keeping each other safe and helping one another when needed. I also think our students have shown great resilience with COVID-19, which gives me tremendous hope for the future. In terms of challenges, I think the biggest issue has been lack of communication and stakeholder input, which has resulted in inconsistent and questionable policies and decisions. The good news is this issue is an easy fix given the strength of our community. All it requires is a willingness by the board and administration to listen to the community, even if it may be uncomfortable; solicit their input; and be open and transparent when things change. If elected, I plan to address this issue by working with the board and district to better communicate and engage with parents, teachers and staff.









Yohannes A. Mengsteab



Occupation: clergy and executive


Experience: three master’s degrees: a professional degree (MDiv); academic degrees: ThM in cross-cultural organizational structures, an MBA with an emphasis in finance, and a Ph.D in the social sciences with a concentration in cross-cultural communication; designed a curriculum for and directed a distance education program for professional certification; served as director of a foundation program that granted funds to organizations in ten counties in Northeast Indiana and as a board member of a $50 million-budget nonprofit organization for 8 years


Contact: N/A




Why are you running for office?



YM: Throughout my career, I have devoted my life to serving people. I have developed programs that continue to impact the lives of many, and I will continue to serve if I have the health and strength to do so. One of the areas which I have a strong desire to serve is the education of our children. I have three sons: two adults and one freshman in high school. All of them have had parochial and public school experiences. I have also researched the makeup of good public-school education and those that have faltered and failed the children they are entrusted with. As a leader who has committed his career to public service, I do not like to complain why the system is not working for us. I am determined to be involved and be part of the solution. Moreover, I believe that our public institutions are as effective as we are willing to work on making them better for our children. If the United States of America is to be a global leader in all aspects of our collective lives, I believe we must invest in our children, and this is what motivates me to run for office.



If elected, what would be your top three priorities?



YM: The three partners are: A. the teachers; B. the parents and the community; C. the students. My three priorities will be addressing the needs of these three partners.

The teachers: I will make it my goal that the teachers in Keller ISD are getting the respect and appreciation due to them, [that] they have the tools they need to excel in teaching for excellence and the support they need from parents and the community.


The parents: I believe the foundation of a good public education is the homes the students come from. Parents' interest in and support of their children’s education is critical to the success of the students. I will make it my priority that our parents are involved in the education of the children: giving them access to a regular parent-teacher conference; providing appropriate orientation/education for the parents on how they are to be involved in their children’s education. Creating a context conducive for learning is priority No. 1 for the success of a child’s education. The safety and well-being/health of our children is critical if we are to be successful in preparing the next generation to take leadership in the global scene.



Discuss the district’s COVID-19 response and what you think is working well and what needs to change.



YM: I am very satisfied with the steps the district has taken to keep us safe, which is following the guidelines of the CDC. This is a medical crisis that requires the guidance of health care professionals. Following the science on this is important, and I am glad that the district continues to do that. Even though it is necessary to practice social distancing to minimize the spread, the heightened isolation also has just as devastating an effect as the spread of the virus. I believe that we, as a community, must create safe environments for people to have social interactions. Moreover, we also need to elevate the support of people with mental health more so that they do not have to fear unrealistic stigma and go into further isolation. The options the district has provided for instructions is appreciated. We chose the hybrid for our son, mainly because we have the resources necessary for an online instruction. This allowed us the social distancing necessary that we felt needed to have to keep ourselves safe. On the other hand, it continues to be helpful for the mental health of our child to let him involve in sports and the music program. I will work with the other trustees to make the resources necessary available for all students so that our schools will open safely and soon.



By Sandra Sadek
Sandra Sadek covers the cities of Grapevine, Southlake and Roanoke as well as Carroll ISD for Community Impact. She graduated from Texas State University where she majored in journalism and international relations. She has experience working for several local papers including the University Star, the Katy Times, and the Fort Stockton Pioneer. When she's not on the ground reporting, she enjoys a good book and a hot drink. Follow her on social media @ssadek19.


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