Two incumbents, Phillip Boutwell and Byron McDaniel, will be joined on the ballot by Edgar Padilla, provost of Texas State Technical College.
The seats for HISD are open places, meaning the top two vote-getters will be appointed to the two open seats.
Election Day is May 5. Early voting begins April 23 and runs through May 1.
Hutto ISD board of trustees - two open places
This race is at-large elections with two open positions. Each ballot can cast votes for two separate candidates.
Bio: Byron has been a part of the Hutto community since moving here in the early 1980's. Byron, his wife and three children, are all graduates of Hutto. He has been involved with his children as well as numerous other youths in both Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, having served as Den leader and Assistant Scout Master. Byron has been employed in the computer industry for over 25 years. Starting out as a manufacturing engineer then moving into new product test engineering and data analytics.
Experience: Has served on Hutto ISD Board of Trustees since 2006
Bio: Phillip Boutwell is a facilities engineer for NXP Semiconductor. He is a father of two daughters.
Experience: Has served on Hutto ISD Board of Trustees past 10 years
Bio: Edgar Padilla serves as Provost and Senior Campus Executive for Texas State Technical College at EWCHEC in Hutto. His experience in education spans over 10 years, leading cross-functional teams in career services, student affairs, and leadership. He has served Hutto in various roles including leadership with The Hutto Chamber and Hutto Has Heart, and member of the City of Hutto Bond Election Commission. He and his wife Eliska have two children currently attending college.
Experience: Current Provost and Senior Campus Executive for Texas State Technical College at Eastern Williamson County Higher Education Center; served with Hutto Chamber of Commerce; served with Hutto Has Heart; member of city of Hutto Bond Election Commission
How should Hutto ISD manage its growth?
McDaniel: I believe Hutto ISD will need to continue monitoring growth. The district currently gets regular demographic updates that gives some insight into what to expect. Based on those projections, the district will have to ensure there will be enough classrooms at the various campuses to accommodate the new students. The district will need to look at expanding current locations as well as bringing new locations online.
Boutwell: Hutto is very close to the 50cent cap on our I&S bond capacity so our growth will need to be managed very carefully. We need to help the City of Hutto and the EDC in attracting businesses to offset the tax bill to our local homeowners. We also need to be very creative in our choice of buildings. The last elementary school design was used multiple times to reduce cost. We need to continue this type of cost saving initiatives.
Padilla: The next several years present a window of opportunity for Hutto ISD. There is significant economic development occurring that will produce a more diverse tax base, coupled with increasing property values and low unemployment. Population is booming, and the challenges are abundant as the ISD works to manage its budget, facilities projections, and cherished Hippo brand. Hutto district leadership has worked diligently with its constituents to elicit feedback that is integrated into their strategic planning process, and with almost 10,000 students projected by 2022, we need to continue to do so.
How can the school district further prepare its students for careers?
McDaniel: I believe the district can continue to drive interest in the great CTE programs already in place and provide necessary funding as the interest grows. Further collaborations with our great education partners at the EWCHEC campus. Expand the participation in the various organization that get students engaged with future careers. For example, we have a great JROTC program, started an Explorer Scouts program, an amazing robotic program, a talented mock trial team, just to name a few.
Boutwell: I think we need to make sure every kid is post-secondary ready when they graduate. That can mean a four-year university, trade school, or the military. We need to continue our partnership with EWCHEC to offer our students opportunities.
Padilla: I am pleased that Hutto ISD administration and staff have shown a clear understanding of the value of counseling students for all available post-secondary pathways. The mix of available high-paying careers in the Austin area often times require less than a four-year college education, and given the 1.5 trillion-dollar student loan debt in America, it is our obligation to ensure our students are apprised of all available post-secondary options. Great work has been done, but much more remains.
How can the district balance taxing rates with rising property values in Hutto?
McDaniel: I believe by making sound financial decision we are good stewards of the funds we receive. As property values increase the district can continue to look at reducing the burden on our local tax payers. With the increases in values we have been seeing, we have been able to reduce the tax rate a little over the past couple years while still being able to meet the district obligations.
Boutwell: We need to attract businesses to our great community. I think we are somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of our local school tax dollars from homeowners. We also need to be a voice in Austin during legislative sessions and school finance meetings. We need to tell them how funding models will affect Hutto.
Padilla: The perception exists that rising property values and additional tax base means more money for school districts. While this assumption is not entirely inaccurate, it can be more fairly characterized as incomplete. Chapter 41 of the Texas Education Code clearly outlines the procedures by which ISD’s can fall into “recapture”, the reallocation of property taxes aimed at equalizing funding between districts that have significant tax bases and those that don’t. The facilities strategic plan in place at Hutto ISD accounts for this challenge, and I believe the district leadership has shown foresight in planning for this.
What kind of expansion is necessary for the school district in the near future?
McDaniel: We currently have several approved projects in the works. We have Benjamin "Doc" Kerly Elementary, our 7th, that is scheduled to open for 19-20 school year. Demographic projections indicate an additional elementary will be needed in the near future as well. We have approved moving forward on the Riverhorse Academy relocation. Our JROTC program is growing like crazy, so we are having to bring in additional classrooms for that program. With our FFA program growing, we are looking at expanding/replacing the current Ag Barn for our students that raise animals. We are also getting close to capacity at the High School. This is probably one of the biggest items coming at us.
Boutwell: We just broke ground on a new elementary school. It is a new design that hopefully we will be able to use again for the next few schools. We will need to build some type of facility soon for the high school as it reaches capacity. We are currently meeting and discussing just what that means. If that means a new high school, a high-tech center, a separate 9th grade center. I think we have to look at all scenarios and see what best fits our student’s needs.
Padilla: The district is balancing expectations and discussions relating to the building of a second high school. Included in those discussions is not only the consideration of finances and construction, but the affinity that the community has for the Hippo mascot and brand. Significant work will be done in the coming months and years to determine our next capital project. Some of those projects are not highly visible but necessary to maintain our promise of excellence in education.
What is your philosophy on bond use for the school district?
McDaniel: Hutto is again experiencing high student growth, I see bonds as necessary to be able to provide our students with adequate facilities to provide for their educational needs. I believe that with proper planning and transparent communications with our community members, holding open workshop to gather their input and feedback, they will provide the direction that the school needs for any new bond proposal.
Boutwell: Bonds are the funding mechanism for building schools. Unfortunately, they are a necessity with the growth we are experiencing we need schools to house the students. The key is to build only as you need.
Padilla: I believe in responsible and rare bond issuance and use, and I believe that when bonds are considered, districts should use every available communication tool to ensure that public comment and perspective is considered. The truth is, school bonds are often times the sole mechanism by which necessary growth can happen. However, I also believe and have worked with teams that have raised significant private capital to subsidize major projects, and I know that Hutto ISD can take advantage of this model.