Election Q&A: Get to know Meredith Keller and Mark Summers, candidates for Hays CISD board of trustees District 4

With the May 4 elections just weeks away, two candidates are campaigning for the single-member Hays CISD District 4 board of trustees seat: incumbent Meredith Keller and challenger Mark Summers.

Early voting beings April 22. For a map of District 4, polling locations and more information, visit the Hays CISD election page.

Candidates are listed in the order in which their names will appear on the ballot.

Mark Summers

Why are you running?
To provide a much-needed voice to the board of trustees to improve student STEM-related outcomes for Hays CISD students.

What is your experience with public education?
My son (Jeff) and daughter (April) attended Hays [CISD] (Buda Elementary, Dahlstrom Middle, Barton Junior and Hays High) schools. The entire family was involved, including participation in band and athletics. My grandson currently attends Buda Elementary. My wife and I are both involved with his school activities. In addition to my 30-year career as a mechanical/analysis engineer/manager, I have also been an educator at private (ITT-Technical Institute) and public (Austin Community College and Texas State University) schools in Central Texas. I have taught various topics, including student development, engineering technology, manufacturing, construction, industrial safety, mechanical-electrical-plumbing (MEP), computer aided-design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM), structural analysis, fluid/thermal analysis and other general engineering topics.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the district?
Student population growth, improvements in student outcomes and increasing STEM program funding in K-12 schools.

What has the district done well over the last five years? What could it have done better?
Managed student population growth with the addition of many new schools. Provided more STEM-related programs on the K-12 level with more community/industry involvement

If elected, what would be your top priorities?
STEM education, improving overall student outcomes and more community/industry involvement.

Website: www.marksummers.net

Meredith Keller

Why are you running?
I am seeking re-election because there is a need for experienced leadership on the board. Our district must improve academic achievement for all learners, and we have to keep our focus on student outcomes and a healthy work environment for our employees. My 17-year proven track record of advocacy and commitment to our students, staff and community is unmatched and is needed to reach our goals. We will get there, together!

What is your experience with public education?
I began supporting public education for Hays CISD in 2003. I served on rezoning committees, district and campus leadership teams, bond committees, hiring teams, Texas Comptroller’s Task Force and many more. I attended nearly every board meeting as a citizen from 2003 until my election in 2010. I studied agendas and advocated for students and parents in public forum. My nine years of board service have been a full-time job of supporting public education.

What do you think is the greatest challenge facing the district?
We must improve student achievement at all levels. We have a new administration team in place, and they are working to implement good educational systems. As with any big change, we must be purposeful in blending our new plans with the many great strategies our staff already uses to educate our students. Now, more than ever, we need to be inclusive with our students, staff, parents and community in our decision-making processes.

What has the district done well over the last five years? What could it have done better?
We have incredible teachers and staff in Hays CISD. They have my gratitude for powering through and educating our students in spite of increasing legislative mandates, school finance funding problems and our explosive growth. It has been a challenge to keep up with student achievement during these difficult times. We hired a new superintendent and have renewed our commitment to focusing on student success. We are 100% Hays CISD!

If elected, what would be your top priorities?
My top priority is improving student outcomes. Everything we do must tie back to this one priority. We have to ensure that our staff members have a healthy, positive work environment, which results in a positive educational atmosphere. We must cultivate our relationships and engage with our parents and community members in order to build the strong support systems that promote student academic growth. We will not be deterred on our road to academic excellence!

Website: www.facebook.com/meridethkellerhayscisdboard

By Katharine Jose
Katharine Jose has written about politics, infrastructure, environment, development, natural disasters and other subjects for The New York Observer, Capital New York, and The New York Times, among other publications. She was an editor for several publicat


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