Q&A: Meet the candidates for Cy-Fair ISD school board, Position 5

Image description
Spradley
Image description
Blasingame
Image description
Horner
Image description
Ogletree
Image description
LeCompte
Image description
Leal
Fourteen candidates are competing for one of three Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees positions up for election this fall.

Positions 5, 6 and 7 will be on the ballot. John Ogletree, Don Ryan and Bob R. Covey currently hold those respective seats and are all running for re-election. The election will be held Nov. 2 after an early-voting period from Oct. 18-29.


We asked each candidate why they were running and how they would address challenges in the district if elected. Some responses may have been edited for clarity.









Courtney Spradley



Occupation: business development


Experience: I have a master’s degree in educational administration from Sam Houston State University along with 15 years of teaching in public education at a Title 1 campus. As a department chair and campus leader, I sat on numerous campus committees to work toward solving issues that our campus faced. After the 2019 class year, I chose to leave the classroom for a new challenge that allowed me to focus more time with my family. I pride myself in being a goal-oriented and highly motivated individual. I constantly set and achieve goals for myself while also working within a team environment. I believe these are a few of the many traits that will assist in being a successful advocate for the children of Cy-Fair as well as a successful member of the school board.






Why are you running for the Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees?



CS: I feel passionate that parents of school aged children should be at the forefront in the decision-making process. The board is responsible for decisions that affects all children. Parents should have an opportunity to feel heard, and their values represented during these major decisions. As a former educator of 15 years, the wife of an educator in the district currently, and having a child in CFISD I feel I can offer a unique perspective that will allow me to assist in making decisions that are best for ALL students.



What does the district’s motto “Opportunity for All” mean to you, and how would you support that mission?



CS: Public schools cannot turn students away based on academic performance, income level or disability. We must ensure that every student in a neighborhood has the same opportunity for a quality education as their neighbor, regardless of their current personal or financial considerations. Education is the cornerstone of improvement for each child and determines their ability to become a productive member of society. The access to quality education establishes the best chance of achieving this, no matter what path is chosen for post high school. We need to allow for choice of this desired path while in the classroom to best prepare students.



What are the most significant challenges facing the school district, and how would you address those issues?



CS: CFISD is growing at a rapid pace and will continue to. As a district, we need to be good stewards of tax dollars through comprehensive strategic planning. We must also continue to work with the community and staff to ensure CFISD maintains high academic standards for all students. The focus needs to be on core curriculum to properly prepare our students for academic and professional success, while leaving political opinions out of the classroom. Strong positive trustee relations with all stakeholders in the community plays a critical role in achieving student success.











Natalie Blasingame



Occupation: retired educator/entrepreneur


Experience: mother of a current CFISD student; 29-year educator serving as a teacher, principal and district leader; Copperfield Swim Team Board; CFISD mentor and global volunteer, Hairgrove Elementary Adopt-A-School volunteer with Calvary Community Church and Copperfield Church; former District Educational Improvement Council (DEIC) parent representative for Langham Creek High School feeder pattern; Langham Creek High School Booster Club member; warrior for our kids and community






Why are you running for the Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees?



NB: I am running to serve you on the CFISD school board in order to increase voice, choice, and values. I will seek input from parents and the community to make sure your voices are heard! I know the value of choice in school programs for your child. One size does not fit all. I will fight for choice in educational options available within our school system. As a woman of faith and values, I will fight to protect religious freedom and be a watchdog against dangerous ideologies that divide us and erode our family values (such as CRT). We must focus on providing excellent academics and extracurriculars for each student that fill them with hope for their future.



What does the district’s motto “Opportunity for All” mean to you, and how would you support that mission?



NB: “Opportunity for All” means that each student receives an individually rigorous and personally meaningful education, aligned with their strengths and goals, that prepares them for college, career and life. Each student should be supported to develop 1) Strong core academics that can be applied to industry skills needed in the region. 2) Soft skills demanded by employers (such as work ethic, teamwork, communication, time management, decision making) 3) Self-discipline and a value system (from home supported by school) that contribute to productive and ethical citizenship. I will support the mission by setting appropriate district goals and holding the administration accountable for reaching these goals.



What are the most significant challenges facing the school district, and how would you address those issues?



NB: The most significant challenge facing the school district is making up for learning loss that occurred for many students during the pandemic. This is best addressed by empowering the amazing teachers of CFISD with the time, flexibility and freedom to meet the needs of each child they serve. Another significant issue is that parents and community members of CFISD have lost trust in their current school board members to properly monitor and protect the hearts and minds of our children from indoctrination and division. I will address this by replacing Dr. Ogletree in Position 5, requesting a curriculum audit, and opening up lines of two-way communication with teachers, staff, parents and community members about their concerns and ideas for solving issues together.











Grace Horner



Occupation: clinical pastoral therapist


Experience: [I have] 26 years of combined business management, health care and health care administration. ... My husband and I co-own a Biblically-based counseling practice in Cypress; my specialties are in marriage and family therapy, treatment of trauma and personality disorders. Combat Veteran, having honorably served eight years in the U.S. Navy, most notably having answered the call on 9/11. Former government-appointed Ombudsman/ Family Liaison at Ellington Field. Most importantly, I am a wife to my wonderful husband, Tim, who I met onboard the USS Carl Vinson and who served 16 faithful years in the U.S. Navy; I am the mother of six precious CFISD students, two of whom have Autism, with our two eldest having recently graduated. Our eldest daughter has just begun her basic training in the U.S. Navy. We are active members of our community through volunteer work, in various capacities, at local churches, provide advocacy through our practice, assist in disaster recovery efforts as needed through crisis intervention and ministry, and regularly attend meetings/involvement in local government and legislature. We are active members of the VFW, DAV, the American Legion, and I have served for years on the PTO at Pope Elementary School and Orchestra Booster Club at Bridgeland High School.


Campaign Website: http://graceforcfisd.com




Why are you running for the Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees?



GH: The current state of our schools in relation to the national political climate have seeped into the safety and education of our children. This adversely affects individuals and families, which, in turn, affects communities. As the mother of six CFISD students, two with special needs, I have a need to protect my family. As a family counselor, I have an obligation to advocate for children, teachers and families in my community. As a Navy combat veteran, I took an oath to protect and defend our constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic. These motivations will never expire.



What does the district’s motto “Opportunity for All” mean to you, and how would you support that mission?



GH: My interpretation of the district’s motto is one of equality, not equity, as the basis for the success of all children, regardless of culture, physical identity or origin. The tenets within ideological programming, such as those which include implicit bias, detract from positive and engaging learning experiences and focus largely on inequality and division. I will support the mission to nurture an atmosphere of equality for all children through refocused academic goals based on the individual needs of each student. Every child is precious and should always feel valued.



What are the most significant challenges facing the school district, and how would you address those issues?



GH: Our students have already missed out on so much due to the pandemic. Children who struggle most in academics, those with special needs, and those with family and financial hardships, often suffer the steepest decline in academic achievement. When morale is low, the domino effect can extend into the community-at-large. Let’s reignite each child’s motivation to succeed, and teachers’ love for education, by re-establishing the core tenets of education (reading, writing and traditional math, but not forgetting American history and civics), and rebuilding trust and respect between parents and educators through open dialogue and collaborative conflict resolution.











John Ogletree*



Occupation: pastor of First Metropolitan Church (35 years)


Experience: My leadership begins first in my home. I’ve been married for 48 years. My wife and I have raised four CFISD graduates who have college degrees. My leadership is proven in that I have served five terms in Position 5 of the CFISD school board. Twice I have served as president of the board. Each year I exceed the minimum hours for continuing education for school board members. I am also a proud graduate of Leadership TASB making me a Master Trustee. During my five terms, I have been instrumental in making the most critical decision a board member can make—selecting a superintendent to lead the district. I was on the board that chose Dr. David Anthony and Dr. Mark Henry to lead CFISD. I voted to reduce the tax rate of our citizens from $1.45 to $1.3356 and supported two bond elections—one for $1.2 billion in 2014 and the other for $1.7 billion in 2019. Recently, I voted for the purchase of Chromebooks for all students and a 5% raise for our teachers and a $1,000 stipend for our hourly workers.






Why are you running for the Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees?



JO: I am running for re-election for Position 5 because of my strong passion and commitment to public schools and how they shape the lives of children for success. I love this community, I love CFISD, and I love serving the students and employees of this great district. Serving CFISD is ministry on a broader scale to me beyond my family and church.



What does the district’s motto “Opportunity for All” mean to you, and how would you support that mission?



JO: This motto “Opportunity for All” truly resonates with me. I believe that every child can learn and be given an equal opportunity in CFISD. I am fully committed to providing classrooms where all children regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, disability, religion, language, sexual orientation, family background or socio-economic status can thrive to the best of their ability. I will support any policy or program that provides this opportunity and work with our superintendent and his team to make this opportunity possible. It goes without saying that our children are our future and each has a God-given ability that should be cultivated. This we must do!



What are the most significant challenges facing the school district, and how would you address those issues?



JO: The most significant challenge we face at present is COVID-19 and its variants. The pandemic has become a safety concern. At any moment we could have teachers or students infected with it and the possibility of the virus spreading with more sickness and regrettably death could occur. This would hinder our effort of providing a safe work and learning environment. Safety must be our priority! I believe we must continue the safety measures we have enacted and continue to seek information and advice from the medical community to make decisions based upon science. In addition, we need our schools adequately funded to be able to meet the challenging careers of math, science and technology as well as students with special needs. We need funding for more paraprofessionals, specialists, nurses, counselors and psychologists to meet the challenge of academic achievement for our over 113,000 students who each bring educational needs that must be met. I will continue to be an advocate for adequate funding.











Todd LeCompte



Occupation: business owner, investor


Experience: I’ve helped build successful companies multiple times starting from scratch. I know what it takes to develop teams of people and the sacrifices required to be successful. I’ve had as many as 250 people at one time working with me across 12 states.






Why are you running for the Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees?



TL: To be a voice for children and the parents of those children that attend CFISD grades K-12 currently and in the near future. I am willing to serve and have the desire to assist with challenges that I recognize exist today and the foreseeable future within CFISD.



What does the district’s motto “Opportunity for All” mean to you, and how would you support that mission?



TL: Opportunity for all, to me, is promoting an environment of inclusivity and respect for fellow students and staff. Students should understand that if they are willing to put in the work and willing to make sacrifices, success can be achieved no matter their background. Our kids should be influenced to view challenges as opportunities to achieve greatness. I would love to meet with students across the district to share my own life experiences that began from a very diverse educational environment as well.



What are the most significant challenges facing the school district, and how would you address those issues?



TL: The biggest challenges that I recognize are parents and staff not having an opportunity to properly give feedback. I would encourage the school board to give parents more than just two minutes of time to be heard. After all, their children are the reason for a school district. CFISD currently has members on staff that are afraid to give feedback out of fear of retribution. Inclusivity shouldn’t be just limited to the student body and feedback should be welcomed without fear.











Xavier Leal



Occupation: Candidate did not submit responses by press time


Experience: Candidate did not submit responses by press time






Why are you running for the Cy-Fair ISD board of trustees?



XL: Candidate did not submit responses by press time



What does the district’s motto “Opportunity for All” mean to you, and how would you support that mission?



XL: Candidate did not submit responses by press time



What are the most significant challenges facing the school district, and how would you address those issues?



XL: Candidate did not submit responses by press time



By Danica Lloyd

Editor, Cy-Fair

Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2016. As editor, she continues to cover local government, education, health care, real estate, development, business and transportation in Cy-Fair. Her experience prior to CI includes studying at the Washington Journalism Center and interning at a startup incubator in D.C., serving as editor-in-chief of Union University's student magazine and online newspaper, reporting for The Jackson Sun and freelancing for other publications in Arkansas and Tennessee.



MOST RECENT

Cy-Fair’s decennial redistricting maps draw criticism

New electoral maps are set for the next decade in Cy-Fair, which gained a new congressional district, a more convoluted map for state representation and significant changes to its county commissioner territories.

The school board will consider whether to call a special election to fill the vacancy or make an appointment. (Zara Flores/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Hays CISD to hold special meeting on resignation of board member; Montgomery approves plan for downtown and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Dec. 2.

Site work is ongoing at the northeast corner of Cypress Rosehill Road and the Grand Parkway on the border of Tomball and Cypress to add infrastructure and stormwater detention areas for a future retail development. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
Retail, multifamily development likely at northeast corner of Cypress Rosehill Road, Grand Parkway

Site work is ongoing at the northeast corner of Cypress Rosehill Road and the Grand Parkway on the border of Tomball and Cypress.

Zoo Lights is a light show within the Houston Zoo that happens every year. (Courtesy Houston Zoo Lights)
10 holiday light displays to see in the Greater Houston area

Check out these nine free and ticketed displays to see through December and January in the Houston area.

A new French pastry shop, Le Macaron, will open in December at the Vintage Park shopping center in Spring. (Courtesy Le Macaron)
Le Macaron coming soon to Vintage Park

A new French pastry shop, Le Macaron, will open in December at the Vintage Park shopping center in Spring.

Tomball City Council approved a development agreement with Lovett Industrial for 240 acres at Hwy. 249, Rocky Road Nov. 29. (Anna Lotz/Community Impact Newspaper)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: Tomball City Council approves development of 240 acres at Hwy. 249, Rocky Road; JLB Eatery coming soon to Katy and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Dec. 1.

Co-founders Nonso Ebede (left) and Kinu Mann (right) opened Haven Jiu-Jitsu Academy on Aug. 16. (Courtesy Haven Jiu-Jitsu Academy)
Haven Jiu-Jitsu Academy now open on Shaw Road

The jiujitsu training center opened Aug. 16.

HCSO Assistant Chief Mike Lee presents information on the county's new safety policing initiative Nov. 30. (Emily Lincke/Community Impact Newspaper)
Harris County approves $2.6M program to fight violent crime in unincorporated areas

“We are strategically pinpointing and then attacking crime, and the best part of it is we are doing it hand in hand with the community,” Judge Lina Hidalgo said.

Heart to Market will take place Dec. 4-5 at the Boardwalk at Towne Lake. (Courtesy Heart to Market)
13 events to attend this December in Cy-Fair

The holiday season is here, and there are several events planned in Cy-Fair.

Crust Pizza Co. is opening soon in Montgomery and Willis. (Courtesy Crust Pizza Co.)
CI TEXAS ROUNDUP: 5 businesses coming to McKinney; Crust Pizza Co. to open two locations in Montgomery, Willis and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas in Texas as of Nov. 30.