Q & A with the candidates: Ashley Vann

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Name: Ashley Vann

AshleyVann

Time in Katy: 24 years, 4 months

Occupation: Volunteer

Contact info: 281-392-2012, advann03@gmail.com

If elected, what would your top three priorities be? How would you implement them?

1) Champion the students of KISD

The number one priority of a trustee — for me as a trustee — is and should be the students. If any decision that is put before me or the board does not champion the students, then it should not be considered or supported.  Some can look at KISD as being a billion-dollar corporation, but I see it as home to 76,000-plus kiddos and I am one of seven people making very important decisions for all of them.  As a trustee, I want our students to graduate life ready, curious, supported, and proud to be part of the legacy of Katy ISD.  Effective learning is best achieved through engagement and collaborative partnerships with parents, families, [and]positive adult and student role models throughout all sectors of the Katy ISD community. We must, as a district, listen to and respond to the needs of our students, as it is ever changing and quickly growing.
There are opportunities in this district that many students do not know exist. For example, all of the programs at Miller Career and Technical Center. We need to start educating our students sooner on the many exciting programs and amazing courses available to KISD high school juniors and seniors. It is a priority of mine to expand exposure of the career and technical training opportunities at MCTC to our students, even as early as eighth grade. Many need to know about the prerequisites that need to be started as early as freshman year to be able to apply to the MCTC. Some students find they are not able to apply because they have not taken the needed classes and the opportunity has been missed. The Junior Reserve Officer Training Corp is a successful and remarkable program at Mayde Creek High School. The JROTC program helps instill the values of citizenship to secondary students while encouraging personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment. Plus, it inspires service to the United States by exposing young men and women to opportunities available in the military. We as a school district need to expand it to other campuses and if I am re-elected, it is a priority of mine to see that is a reality.

2) Champion the teachers of KISD

Today’s classroom, community and global environments demand new learning standards for students so that they will have the ability to successfully live in, learn in, lead and contribute in a world that is truly global, connected and increasingly competitive in opportunities and character. Our teachers are the best ones to bring that connection to our students. I feel it is very important to allow our teachers the freedom to bring creative teaching styles to their classrooms, to encourage them to think outside of the box. Accountability is necessary and the systems should reflect the performance of teachers and students in achieving successful student learning. When they are not and only allowing time to “teach to the test,” it stifling to our teachers. Our learning community must create the conditions and capacities most conducive for students and teachers to perform at high levels and meet the expectations of learning standards, but still make it possible for the curiosity, energized learning and exploration beyond the test. Plus, it is important to utilize technology’s potential to enrich the understanding of our students so that the work designed for them is more engaging and complements their interactions with the fast-changing world of digital devices and makes connections to important information and, most importantly, to each other. Our teachers can do this. We need to allow them the room, and provide them the financial means to do so as well.
As a trustee, I will make it a priority of the board to have the superintendent annually look at teacher turnover rates at each of our campuses, to watch for any patterns of concern and present that to us. Exit interviews need to be made a more common practice in KISD when teachers and administrators resign from the district — exit interviews that are confidential and trusted, that employees feel safe to take part in and that are reviewed by human resources. If there is an issue on a campus, I feel that executive administration and HR should be persistent in knowing that and consistent in reading the temperature of all of our campuses. Our teachers are our greatest asset and they deserve our respect and safeguarding.

3) Protect taxpayer’s dollars

The right to an education is guaranteed by the Texas Constitution, however, under our current state system, it is increasingly difficult for school districts to provide the resources for all students to be successful, no matter where they live or their background. This is true even though state support for public education is the second largest use of our state’s revenue. Continuous improvement should be expected in all areas of a fast-growing district, but with respect to our taxpayers. Let’s face it, families are moving to Katy for our schools.That is undeniable and we need to be good stewards of not only their children that enter our schools every day, but the tax dollars that they pay to the district. The home values in our area are increasing as the demand for homes are on the rise, however, with the ever lessening of state funding of public education, there is a challenge even for our district that is rich in property taxes. I believe as a trustee, it is important to expect and require the superintendent to annually review programs and administrative positions for areas of unneeded spending. We also must maintain that our superintendent works closely with our CFO in finding resourceful ways to pay down our debt in a timely and effective manner. In the end, spending comes back around to where I started: the kids. When taxpayers’ dollars are spent, the reason for the expense must impact, benefit, and/or create an improvement for our students, or the expense should not be approved. Determining this is the role of a member of the board of trustees.

What are the most important financial and budgetary issues KISD should address?

Transparency, safeguarding our taxpayers’ dollars and managing the needs of a fast- growing district.

How does your experience qualify you to be a member of the Katy ISD board of trustees?

I have served for three years as a KISD trustee and have worked hard and trained diligently to become an effective, trusted and energetic leader in this district. I have come to know, respect and understand the board operating policies and procedures that govern our board. Plus, I understand that the role of a trustee is one of oversight, not one of management.

It is as always been my focus to be responsive to my constituents, consistently available and continually approachable. I am on many of our campuses volunteering and I take part in district committees and projects. Plus, you will often find me taking part in and attending events and programs at campuses, reading to classes and helping out wherever I can. I am a hands-on board member, out and about in the community and a visible volunteer in and for this district. It is not just about showing up for the board meetings, the hand shaking and picture taking. It is about getting to know your community, your administration, your teachers, your students and frankly yourself that qualifies you to do the job of a trustee of Katy ISD.

Being a parent of students in KISD since 2003 and having one graduated and two currently enrolled, I know what the life of today’s students is all about, day in and day out. I live the reality. I know that not all KISD students are bound for college, not are all are meant to be college ready. However, it is our job in KISD to ensure that all KISD students are life ready, that they are all given the skill sets to succeed and the desire to do so.

I trust in the new leadership of KISD with Dr. Lance Hindt, and as a member of the board that hired him, I look forward to serving alongside him for another three years. KISD is 181 square miles. Yes, that is big. However, being a product of this district, I love that it still has a small town feel. I know over the last decade or two there is a growing “quadrant” mentality of KISD and I truly hope through Dr. Hindt’s coming leadership, and ultimate unity of our board of trustees, that divide will disappear. We are one district, one legacy. A legacy that I am so very proud to be a part of!

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