Name: Dr. David Velasquez
Time in Katy: 9 years, 7 months
Occupation: Federal – DHS
Contact info: 956-286-3483, firstname.lastname@example.org
If elected, what would your top three priorities be? How would you implement them?
If given the privilege to serve on the Katy ISD School Board, my top three priorities would be to:
- Build a responsive and collaborative school district
As a parent, my interactions with Katy ISD have been less than encouraging to say the least because these have left me with the absolute conviction that its leadership believes that they do not have to account for actions that significantly impact the lives of our children. As taxpayers, and especially as parents, we deserve a more responsive and collaborative school district. We deserve a school district that values and recognizes as a guiding tenet the undeniable truth that parents have a significant and sacred vested interest in the success of the school district because the lives and futures of their children hang in the balance. Given this simple but significant truth, it is very arrogant and condescending when the district’s leadership takes it upon itself to singlehandedly alter the lives and futures of our children without first taking into account our parental perspective. Although I can list countless examples of such arrogance, both on a more personal level and on a larger scale, one that clearly comes to mind is the district’s recent unilateral decision to alter the lives of our children by defining the district’s high school boundaries without seriously taking into consideration what the parents’ perspectives were. Sure, the district’s leadership will have us believe that they afforded parents the opportunity to contribute to the decision-making process by having us complete surveys and affording us the opportunity to voice our concerns at a board meeting, but the honest truth is that this was all for show and nothing else. Their minds were already made up long before then. In light of such derelict of duty by our district’s leadership, I decided to try to make a change by running for the school board. If given the privilege to serve, I will work toward changing this culture of arrogance.
- Demand Fiscally Responsible Leadership
As taxpayers, we need to demand and advocate for a more responsible stewardship of our school district’s resources by ensuring that our limited resources are appropriately targeted and prioritized within an academics-first perspective. Although I for one am an absolute sports enthusiast, I absolutely do not believe that we should sacrifice academics for sports. Schools are in the business of educating children and not in the business of serving as farm clubs for professional sports as would seem to be the embedded belief behind the KISD school board’s decision to blatantly raid our personal bank accounts in order to build their very own Taj Mahal to the tune of $80 million-plus. Notwithstanding our community’s loud and unequivocal rejection of the KISD school board’s original bond proposal to irresponsibly spend our tax dollars on such an irresponsible undertaking, the school board came right back and tied in the building of such a stadium to the building of much needed classrooms, essentially blackmailing the community into voting for the KISD school board’s irresponsible venture. If this is not a quintessential example of arrogance and fiscal irresponsibility at its worst, then I honestly do not know what is. The tragedy behind this irresponsible venture was that it was undertaken while sacrificing much needed classroom space. Some of our children’s individual and collective educations were compromised so that the school board could enjoy their personal Taj Mahal. If given the privilege to serve, I will work hard toward changing this culture of fiscal irresponsibility and arrogance once and for all.
- Demand Transparency
As parents and taxpayers, we need to demand more accountability from our individual school board members. We need school board members who will respect the collective community and the individual constituents whom they serve by demanding that they transact school business in the light of day and for all to see, and not in the shade of dark, smoke-filled rooms where they hatch out their own personal agendas. We need to remind our school board members that they were not elected to serve the district’s school superintendent or the school board’s president. They were elected to serve and represent their constituents’ perspectives. In light of this basic truth, the so-called KISD’s school board’s one voice policy has no business within the operation of our school district, especially to the extent that it operates to silence the individual school board members from answering to the people that they were elected to serve.
If given the privilege to serve on the KISD school board, I would implement my top three priorities by:
- i) Inviting and encouraging more community input and personally taking into account my constituents’ wishes and concerns in order to make the district’s decision-making process fair and respectful of the stakeholder community. By doing this, my hopes are to correctly align the district’s vision with its corresponding community’s value system.
- ii) As a prospective school board member, my advocacy would be fueled by the desires and wishes of my constituents. I will be their voice at every school board meeting and my votes would be accordingly aligned.
On a substantive level, some of the many measures that I would seek to undertake to make our school district more transparent and responsible to its stakeholders would be to hold our school leadership accountable for its failure to create positive learning environments by advocating and working towards having our school district adopt and implement periodical (annual) anonymous campus surveys as performance metrics for school administrators in order to gauge administrators’ ability to establish, maintain and perpetuate positive school climates that promotes growth for students, teachers, staff and its local community stakeholders. On a financial level, I will fight to maximize the school district’s resources by identifying, proposing, and advocating for measures that identify waste and redirect our valuable resources towards targeted instructional needs, needs that directly address and maximize the learning experience for all of our students.
What are the most important financial and budgetary issues KISD should address?
The most important financial and budgetary issues facing KISD are rooted in the individual and collective value systems of the currently elected school board leadership, values that have been made painfully evident by the school board’s consistent misappropriation of our district’s limited resources time and again. For example, it was not at all fiscally responsible for the KISD school board to have paid in excess of $80 million for a high school football stadium when much needed classrooms were in need of being built at the time that this misguided decision was undertaken. Classrooms were, in fact, needlessly sacrificed for this unreasonably expensive high school football stadium by our elected school board. Unfortunately, such actions were not only fiscally irresponsible, but these actions were most importantly more indicative of a much deeper problem, that of a school board’s ill-fated attitude and mistaken sense of entitlement to spend the District’s valuable resources with reckless abandon in spite of the community’s wishes to the contrary. In light of examples such as these — and many more can be cited — the financial and budgetary problems facing KISD lie not within what is indicated on public school financial reports such as the FIRST reports often cited by the district, but within the district’s currently elected school board’s collective value system, one which is seriously misaligned with the community’s very own value system, one that seeks a first-class education for all its students.
How does your experience qualify you to be a member of the Katy ISD board of trustees?
First and foremost, my 17 years of past experience as an educator provide me with a firm, relevant and nuanced understanding of public education, which I believe will serve me well as I tackle the issues that come across my desk as a voting member of the KISD school board. Secondly, my absolute and faithful respect for our democratic system of government is perhaps the single most important qualification that I bring to the table, a qualification that I am firmly convinced is seriously lacking among the members of the current school board. Finally, as a parent and as a taxpayer who has been betrayed by the current school board on both levels, I know that I will fight hard to move mountains in order to cut through all the clutter that currently holds our community hostage to the personal whims of the currently elected school board.