Everything you need to know about the May 5 Pflugerville ISD board of trustees election
Five candidates have filed for Pflugerville ISD Board of Trustees Places 1 and 2.
Now is the chance to help your local community succeed. Become a Patron by contributing to Community Impact Newspaper and gain daily insight into what's happening in your own backyard. Thank you for reading and supporting community journalism.
Five candidates have filed for the Pflugerville ISD Board of Trustees May 5 election, though one incumbent will run an uncontested race to retain their seat.
Tony Hanson, the incumbent for Pflugerville ISD Board of Trustees, Place 2, will run unopposed to retain his seat, as he was the only candidate to file for the race. Hanson was elected to the position in 2017 and currently works for the Texas General Land Office, according to his biography on the Pflugerville ISD website.
Mary Kimmins, current Pflugerville ISD Trustee for Place 1 and Secretary for the Board, faces three challengers for the seat in the upcoming election. Pflugerville residents Brian Allen, Matt Robertson and Charlie Torres have filed candidacy for election to the Place 1 seat.
Election Day is May 5. Early voting begins April 23 and runs through May 1.
Pflugerville ISD board of trustees, Place 1
Mary Kimmins* Bio: Mary Kimmins is currently an educational consultant partner with LCM Consulting, LLC. In addition, she serves as secretary on the Pflugerville ISD Board of Trustees. She
devoted her entire 30-year career to PfISD, where she has served in numerous roles, including middle/high school teacher, district curriculum coordinator, assistant principal
and principal. After retirement, she continued her love of learning as director of the Intensive American English Institute and more recently as an educational mentor, coach and trainer.
Experience: Current Pflugerville ISD Board of Trustees Place 1 incumbent; served as Secretary to the Board; middle school and high school teacher in PfISD; district curriculum coordinator; assistant principal; principal
Brian Allen Bio: Brian and his wife, Brenda are longtime residents of Pflugerville. They have raised two children in the PfISD. Brian retired from the Army after 24 years of service in 2013. Brian is an active member in the community and has served the PfISD in a variety of capacities.
Experience: More than 20 years of military service; has previously served PfISD
Charlie Torres Bio: For over 35 years my life has been dedicated to volunteering and serving students and the communities I have lived in.
Experience: Served for 12 years on Gregory-Portland ISD Board of Trustees; More than 35 years of volunteer work for school districts; Volunteer work for community sports leagues and community organizations
Matt Robertson Bio: Matt Robertson: U.S. Army Veteran, PfISD Employee, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts of America Leader, HOA President, longtime Pflugerville resident, homeowner, taxpayer, religious education teacher, husband, patriot, PTO President, Catholic, Boy Scout Charter Organization Representative, father of one current student in PfISD and one graduate of PfISD, and, with your support, Pflugerville Independent School Board Member for Place 1.
Experience: Leader in Cub Scouts of America and Boy Scouts of America; U.S. Army Veteran; HOA President
How should Pflugerville ISD manage its growth?
Kimmins: The growth in central Texas puts Pflugerville on a fast growth trajectory. Analyzing demographic information enables PfISD to make sound projections regarding future
growth and to plan forward to ensure we are keeping pace with the needs of our community. We need to plan not only for the school buildings but also for the types of programs that will best serve our students and attract and retain talented professionals to teach in our outstanding schools.
Allen: Managing growth involves the process of planning and building new schools, attracting and retaining the best teachers, projecting student growth, balancing the student to teacher ratio, providing student accommodations, and utilizing technology. Another main component is to revisit the implementation of the policies that affect the culture of growth. As a trustee, we must leverage the spending of the Districts’ Maintenance & Operations (M&O) funds.
Torres: A stronger relationship between the District and the city of Pflugerville is a position that we can improve to help identify the direction of growth in our community. This is needed to make sure we can manage our student population in our existing school facilities and any future facilities. I do not want to see school boundaries changing that causes students to be moved to schools that are not within the boundaries of the subdivision that parents purchase their home.
Robertson: In scouting, boys are taught many different skills useful in their physical, emotional, social, and morale development. They are taught things that help them to be prepared for many different situations that life may present to them. It teaches them to react with precision and knowledge instead of fear and panic. What can we do as parents, a community, and a school board to be prepared and to prepare our students for the challenges that life will present to them?
How can the district further prepare its students for careers?
Kimmins: We must continue to monitor work force needs and engage in collaborative dialogue with city and business leaders. The district offers a variety of opportunities to students to prepare them for their futures, whether they choose to enter the workforce, attend college, or serve in the military. We are proud of our ROTC program and the recent addition of a fire academy. Our professional pathways allow students to explore their interests while still in HS.
Allen: As a Chamber of Commerce member, I strongly believe in partnerships that engage the student body to interact with industry businesses. It is a fact that a percentage of our graduating student body will not attend College or University. Therefore, the Relevant Experiences Achieve Learning (R.E.A.L) World Pflugerville career connection event and corporate compensatory internships such as the St. David’s initiative are idea programs.
Torres: I would like to see a stronger support from the school district on supporting the partnership with the City of Pflugerville and Austin Community College. When Pflugerville becomes part of the Austin Community College district the tuition rates for Pflugerville residents will be considerably less. Dual credit courses will help many of our students that have their sight on a vocational or technical career.
Robertson: One of our main focuses should be maintaining a safe learning environment for all of our students. Once a student has reached high school they have pretty much determined how they are going to conduct themselves and how much effort they are willing to put into their studies. One of the problems we face in our district is that there is not proper support of discipline in elementary schools to teach children correct behaviors.
How can the district balance taxing rates with rising property values in Pflugerville?
Kimmins: PfISD has a tradition of fiscal discipline that has, over the years, saved taxpayers in defeasance. At the same time property values are rising, we are facing the harsh reality
of reduced educational funding from the state. This is very challenging and does require careful balancing. I support creative measures that will allow us to continue a tradition of fiscal responsibility and demonstrate concern for taxpayers.
Allen: At this point, given our current state funding structure, higher property tax does little to support our local schools. Things that we can do with our debt servicing that makes good spending sense or investments is to ensure we maintain control of our tax spending by considering the direct interests of our students and take a hard look as to why we’re spending taxpayer’s money on it.
Torres: Property values have had a significant increase which means additional tax dollars to the District. The increase in new homes being built and new businesses means a population increase so the increase in tax dollars is needed to support the additional staff and facilities. I would research all the facts needed to see if it is possible to decrease the tax rate as long as the quality of education to our students is not affected.
Robertson: Laws are in place to protect each student’s right to an education, but what efforts and support are being given to students who aren’t able to learn as quickly or easily as the average student. These students are being left behind frustrated and acting out. Learning that when they act out they are pulled from class to go play on a computer or offered some other distraction. They learn if they do not behave properly they are given an escape from whatever they don’t want to do.
What kind of expansion is necessary for the school district in the near future?
Kimmins: In the near future, the district will need a couple of elementary schools and a middle school. Growth is occurring largely to the east, both at the northern and southern ends. While looking toward the expansion to the east, we need to continue to support the central and western schools, ensuring they are well maintained and capable of meeting the programming needs of our students.
Allen: PfISD needs to fill the technology gaps in our existing programs with innovative “smart-thinking”. STEM and CTE are perfect program examples; increasing blended learning through technology by implementing the “1 to 1” device/student ratio is “smart”. Career and Technical Association of Texas offers outstanding ideas and resources at minimal cost. Commitment to classroom teacher and school leader professional development needs expansion in areas of information, resources and implementation supports, education, business, family and community partnerships.
Torres: I believe the expansion that will be needed in the future could possibly be an elementary and a middle school. The growth to the east and north side of Pflugerville has been and will continue to grow. This is where the stronger partnership with the City of Pflugerville and assessing future growth in the future should be a high priority. I believe we need to expand and improve the educational requirements for special needs students.
Robertson: Many of these issues are the product of conflicts at home. To my knowledge the district doesn’t have any programs in place that aide struggling parents to help them connect with their children in a way that reinforces positive learning behaviors. It appears that the current path of the district is distinctly lacking in innovation or the implementation of any new ideas or paths to success.
How should the school district use the District of Innovation designation to its advantage?
Kimmins: The DOI designation has allowed the district to better align the fall and spring semesters by having more control over the calendar and has given the district the opportunity to
better align teacher days with the required number of student minutes. DOI gives districts more flexibility than we have had in the past. A DOI committee, composed of representatives from around the district, will ensure that District of Innovation considerations are carefully vetted.
Allen: Using the District of Innovation designation to our advantage allows that flexibility to strengthen support systems for the implementation processes designed to meet the needs of all our students. Another designation to our advantage is adjusting instructional days between the Fall and Spring semesters, balancing the distribution of educational time, thereby increasing its efficacy. Additionally, we need to ensure the designation plan includes uniform accountability and assessment measures across the entire spectrum of classroom management.
Torres: I have served on the DOI committee and even though it is my belief the District administration has done a good job in allowing community input, I am still not convinced there are many advantages for the district. The district without DOI designation can already apply for exemptions from certain regulations in the Texas Education Code.
Robertson: The leadership of the district has too long been led by individuals without vision or aspirations to create something more than what we currently are. I am asking for your vote for PFISD School Board Place 1 to bring new ideas and a drive and passion to create a better learning atmosphere for all of our students. To prepare our students to be their best selves, we have to give them the tools to be prepared.
What is your philosophy on bond use for the school district?
Kimmins: First and foremost, bonds will be needed to build schools and keep up with the growth of the community. Existing schools and buildings will always need upkeep and updating to keep up with ever changing needs. It is important that a committee of community members along with school staff from multiple levels be involved in reviewing needs of
the district that will allow our students to have experiences needed to be productive post-graduation (for example, technology needs).
Allen: Bonds primarily reflect projected growth in population, with a focus on expanding classroom space, be it with our older facilities, adding a new wing, or building new schools in areas where housing is growing. Before we take on a bond debt, we need to consider all options, including community partners with similar interests. For instance, an indoor pool shared with ISD athletics, Pflugerville Parks & Rec, community based organizations, and maybe a local swim club.
Torres: Bond dollars should be used primarily to build or improve facilities that provide a safe and comfortable learning environment for all students. In addition, bond money should be used to provide the necessary tools and equipment needed by our students and staff to help deliver a superior education second to none.
Robertson: Once elected I promise to lead the efforts to advocate for new programs and policies that ensure the safety of our children, work to lower the current tax rate that stresses our wallets, and give the support to our teachers to bring our district out of the past and into a new and much more current age of learning.
Officials with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles announced April 5 there will be no grace period following the end of the temporary waiver of certain vehicle title and registration requirements this month.
The new tool will give Texans one place to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine through multiple health departments, including the eight DSHS public health regions—which provides public health services to nearly 200 Texas counties—as well as more than a dozen local health entities statewide.
Three weeks after the the state's power grid failed leaving millions of Texans without power amid freezing temperatures, the Public Utility Commission of Texas named Adrianne Brandt as the agency's new director of ERCOT accountability in a news release March 11.