Election Q&A: 2 candidates to take part in runoff for Richardson ISD At-Large Place 7

Candidates for Richardson ISD At-Large Place 7 answered questions about their goals. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Candidates for Richardson ISD At-Large Place 7 answered questions about their goals. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

Candidates for Richardson ISD At-Large Place 7 answered questions about their goals. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)

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Amanda Clair
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Christopher J. Poteet
On June 5, voters can head to the polls to cast a ballot in a runoff election for the Richardson ISD At-Large Place 7 seat.


In the May 1 election, no candidate received at least 50% of the votes, so the candidates with the two highest vote totals will proceed to the runoff election. Early voting will be May 24-June 1.


RICHARDSON



Richardson ISD At-Large Place 7










Amanda Clair



Occupation: educational consultant; academic director


Contact: 979-324-6088; [email protected]




Why did you decide to run for the Richardson ISD board of trustees?



AC: I decided to run for Richardson ISD board of trustees because I believe in the power of education and the influence our school systems have on communities and students. I adore the Richardson community and school district. I am encouraged by RISD’s deep commitment to meet the needs of all students and families, and I hope to build on that commitment. I believe that my experience in education and background in leadership will allow me to partner with current trustees and RISD school and system leaders to continue the momentum started by former trustees.



How has your experience prepared you for board service?



AC: As a parent, teacher and district administrator, I bring a unique set of skills to the table. As a parent, I, like all of our families, understand how the decisions made by the district can impact us. I deeply understand the demands our teachers face within the classroom and understand how decisions from the central office can influence their instruction. As a district administrator, I have experienced working with the multiple factors that are required in determining initiatives and priorities for the entire district. If elected as a board member, I would be able to use multiple perspectives to both advocate and work towards a consensus that keeps all stakeholders in mind.



What is your stance on the two Richardson ISD bond measures on the ballot and why?



AC: The two bond measures that were approved to be added to the ballot address identified needs of the district. A significant chunk of the first bond (~40%) is currently allocated to support construction updates to campuses in need across the district. Many of these campuses are experiencing outdated infrastructures and space concerns. In addition to those, the bond would support identified updates in curriculum and instruction, extracurriculars and additional facilities management issues, such as safety and security. The second bond specifically addresses the identified technology updates and additions needed to continue the instructional support and success of the district. If approved, the bonds will not require a tax increase for residents. The decision ultimately is with the citizens of Richardson ISD to determine if we should move forward.



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



AC: We have made a promise to our students and their families that we will prepare them for college and a career. However, when we disaggregate data and look at how various demographics on how our students are performing, there are disparities that indicate this is not being met. We must continue to exemplify our practice to ensure we are fulfilling our promises to all students. As board members, our job is to set board goals that support the school district in meeting the instructional needs of all students. If elected, I would use my experience and knowledge to ensure that we are continuing to set policies that are addressing the needs of every child in Richardson ISD.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



AC: My husband and I chose to move into the Richardson Independent School District because we wanted to raise our sons in the strong and diverse community that RISD provides. We believe in the power of education and of what a strong school community can do for the trajectory of students' lives. I know what it means to place the future of my children in the hands of RISD schools that are working to provide the best education possible for students in the community. As a former teacher, I know the sacrifices teachers make to support every student that passes through their classroom and long after they have matriculated to the next grade. I believe in the hard work and care that teachers provide for their students and want to ensure that teachers and schools have the resources to continue that work. I know the work and cooperation in strong communities can create educational opportunities that parents and teachers envision for each and every child. As your board trustee, I am committed to listening and learning from the entire RISD community and acting as a community voice on the RISD school board.









Christopher J. Poteet



Occupation: civil engineer






Why did you decide to run for the Richardson ISD board of trustees?



CJP: Service is a tradition within my family and is in our DNA. I spent almost nine years in the army between Texas A&M and my last 14 years in civil engineering. I followed my father and both grandfathers into military service. Once I left the military, I felt a need to continue giving back. For the last 10 years, that has been in service to the Exchange Club of Lake Highlands, RISD committees and the city of Dallas Landmark Commission, among others. Concurrently, through my participation in the Leadership Dallas program in 2014, I realized that the importance of a good public education system is vastly larger than simply the education of my own kids. The vitality of neighborhoods, our cities, our region and their economic development all rely on a great system. But foremost, the successful future of every child, no matter their background, will be built upon the education that they receive. Combining this realized passion for education and my passion for serving pointed me towards this honorable opportunity to serve the district.



How has your experience prepared you for board service?



CJP: My years of service within the military taught me about teamwork. As a trustee, I know that teamwork is critical amongst the board members as we work towards common vision and goals. In my firm, strategic planning and continuous improvement provide the baseline to future success. RISD effectively utilizes these tools and the accountability that accompanies them. Familiar with both design and construction, I bring a level of critical thought and understanding of detail to the board. My service to the district with the Inside RISD program, Strategic Plan Committee, Program Planning Committee for LHHS and the current 2021 Bond Steering Committee have given me valuable experience to use in the role of trustee. As a civil engineer in a district with over 70 aging facilities, I understand the capital needs, life cycles and funding related to our five-year bond cycle.



What is your stance on the two Richardson ISD bond measures on the ballot and why?



CJP: I am in support of both 2021 bond propositions. The Texas public education funding system results in the need for a strategic, accountable and community-driven bond to address things like major construction, renovations, technology and other long-term, costly needs. The district is proactive and strategic in managing its finances to allow for these bond programs to fulfill needs without raising the tax rate on property owners. Each department did a good job producing a measured list of essential items. These needs were balanced across the district and all campuses. The public was brought in to participate in the process of review and recommendation of the packages. The strategic approach was comprehensive, including facility audits, demographic forecasts, financial analyses and equity across the district. Being a part of this process made it easy to be a bond supporter and advocate.



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



CJP: Post-COVID, I believe that the next couple of years will be some of the most challenging the district has seen. Evaluating students' achievement levels and developing plans, solutions and strategies to ensure all students are on level will be critical. As a trustee, I look forward to helping the staff determine paths forward from the governance level. Being a conduit to the community, my role will be critical to provide both the district and parents with feedback and guidance as it relates to a possible COVID achievement gap. The district will use its strategic plan, goals and vision as a framework in guiding us through this challenge and eventual successes. I believe RISD is challenged to continue to build and sustain a culture of success and improvement. I believe that culture exists now and has leadership in place at both the board and staff level to do this. But turnover is not organizational culture’s friend. Following COVID, morale of staff will be something to focus on. Taking care of the employees within the district and leadership will be necessary to continue to build on a culture that has so much potential.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



CJP: I am honored to be considered for a place on the RISD board of trustees. I have two children in RISD (seventh-grade daughter and fourth-grade son) and look forward to being a part of the successes that my two and the over 37,000 other students will enjoy.


By William C. Wadsack
William C. Wadsack is the senior reporter for the Plano and Richardson editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as managing editor of several daily and weekly publications in North Texas and his native state of Louisiana before joining Community Impact Newspaper in 2019.


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