Q&A: Meet the candidates running for Magnolia ISD board of trustees Position 1

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Incumbent Kelly McDonald and candidate Angie Smith are running for Position 1 on the Magnolia ISD board of trustees in the May 4 election.

*Incumbent

Kelly McDonald*

Hometown: Quitman

KellyMcDonald@MagnoliaISD.org

Top priorities: providing our students the education that prepares them for their future in the military, workforce, trade school, business ownership or college; paying our teachers the most competitive compensation possible; keeping our students and teachers in a safe environment

Briefly describe your experience for the position for which you filed.
Over the last 17 years, I have been a volunteer in my children’s schools, a PTO member, a booster club member and was a part of the 2014 Magnolia ISD Parent Leadership Committee.

In 2015, I joined the Magnolia Facility Planning Committee and was a parent volunteer for the 2015 MISD School Bond committee. I organized meetings, led community discussions and worked hard to educate our community about why we needed the 2015 school bond. I’m very proud that our committee led the charge to get our 2015 school bond passed. It allowed us to build our intermediate schools on each side of the district, and the children of our community will benefit from our efforts for years to come.

I’ve served on the Magnolia school board for the last three years. I volunteer my time because I want to make a positive difference in our schools. This year, I was one of 33 school board members from across Texas selected as a member of the 2019 Cohort of Leadership Texas Association of School Boards. I am representing Magnolia ISD across the state of Texas in a yearlong education leadership study program. At the end of this year, I will graduate by earning master trustee status. This is the highest designation recognized by the Texas Association of School Boards. I am committed to constantly improving my knowledge and service as a school board member for Magnolia.

Why are you running for re-election to the Magnolia ISD board of trustees?
It is an honor to run for re-election to Magnolia ISD board of trustees because I believe in our students, our teachers and have a passion for this community. I believe children need adults to advocate for them. I will continue to make decisions that ensure every child will reach their full potential. I’m so proud of Magnolia and the people that live here. It is an honor to serve on the Magnolia ISD school board, and I ask the people of Magnolia to allow me to continue.

What do you believe are the biggest challenges for Magnolia ISD in the coming years?
Our projected growth and declining state funding are our largest obstacles to overcome in the near future. We will overcome these challenges by our continued conservative approach to our budget. The Magnolia ISD school board has lowered your tax rate by 23 percent since 2005. We have had a balanced budget for the last 10 years. We have paid off bond debt early. Because of that, our bond rating has been upgraded by the bond agencies, and we are recognized by the Texas Education Agency as one of the leading schools in the state for financial responsibility.

What do you believe is Magnolia ISD’s greatest strength?
Our greatest strength is our teachers. I admire our teachers’ hard work and dedication to making sure our kids are ready for the world. I am grateful for all they have done for our children.

What do you believe is one area in which Magnolia ISD can improve, and how do you plan to help the district work toward improving in that area?
Magnolia ISD should have a continued focus on security. Progress on safety initiatives has been steady and meaningful. Our administration and counselors are now better aligned to address student social and emotional issues. We now have a much more robust anti-drug program in place consisting of both preventive and punitive measures. We have made wise use of funds in expanding security camera coverage and have placed officers at every campus. Overall, our program to provide a safe and secure environment is working. I would like to see this focus continue and improve. Keeping our students and teachers in a safe environment is one of my top priorities.

Magnolia ISD has seen a declining percentage of revenue from the state over the last several years. In light of this, how would you approach maintaining a balanced budget, and what would be your budget priorities for the district?
I will support and maintain a balanced budget that is focused on funds allocated toward the classroom, provides competitive teacher compensation, and ensures a safe environment for our students and teachers.

Angie Smith

Hometown: Cypress

https://adsmith1231.wixsite.com/website
adsmith1231@yahoo.com

Top priorities: security, graduate preparedness, balanced budget

 

Briefly describe your experience for the position for which you filed.
I am a mom to three teens, all who are active in multiple activities in Magnolia. I have been a board member of a municipal utility district in charge of security and parks, a secretary on a homeowner association board, worked with former state Rep. Callegari to push to end [State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness] testing, [and was] president of the band booster club and of the Project Prom Committee

Why are you running for election to the Magnolia ISD board of trustees?
I am running because I see improvement needed in several areas. Being active in various activities gives you insight into what is working and what isn’t. 

What do you believe are the biggest challenges for Magnolia ISD in the coming years?
Growth is coming, and before we know it we will be there with other districts such as Tomball and moving to a 6A platform. As we all know, with growth comes security issues.

What do you believe is Magnolia ISD’s greatest strength?
I firmly believe the greatest strength in Magnolia ISD is the recognition of our kids and what they are doing successfully.

What do you believe is one area in which Magnolia ISD can improve, and how do you plan to help the district work toward improving in that area?
One area I believe we can see significant growth is to grow our [career and technical education] programs—programs that help gear our children towards trades, which more and more high schoolers are looking to work immediately after high school and not go to a two- or four-year college, [and] bringing in more CTE programs, such as HVAC and plumbing, can help some of our kids prepare for life outside of school.

Magnolia ISD has seen a declining percentage of revenue from the state over the last several years. In light of this, how would you approach maintaining a balanced budget, and what would be your budget priorities for the district?
One of my priorities for the district would be a focus on security for our students and teachers. The way to maintaining a balanced budget is to not acquire any new debt but to pay down old debt, and by doing that, we should not be raising taxes. We need to push the state for more funding and involve community partners for grants.

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Anna Lotz
Anna joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. In July 2017, she transitioned to editor. Anna covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in the Tomball and Magnolia communities. Prior to CI, Anna served as editor-in-chief of Cedars, interned with the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., and spent time writing for the Springfield News-Sun and Xenia Daily Gazette.
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