Election Q&As: Pearland ISD board of trustees Position 2

Here is a look at the candidates running for Pearland ISD board of trustees Position 2. (Community Impact staff)
Here is a look at the candidates running for Pearland ISD board of trustees Position 2. (Community Impact staff)

Here is a look at the candidates running for Pearland ISD board of trustees Position 2. (Community Impact staff)



HOUSTON



Pearland ISD board of trustees Position 2










Carmine Petrillo III






Candidate did not respond to multiple requests for comment.









Edgar Pacheco Jr.



Occupation: college student


Experience: Pearland High School graduate, class of 2019


Contact: 956-667-8789 www.edgarpachecojr.com




Why did you choose to run for the position?



EP: As a recent 2019 Pearland High School graduate, it was my concern for the needs of students that led me to run. Throughout high school, I was able to identify the struggles students faced when it came to mental health needs and how neglected these needs were by counselors and administrators at the time. Additionally, I was a student who required special education services and, at various times, [was] denied these services while being bullied and almost physically assaulted by campus administrators. If elected, I am determined to ensure that no student or parents experiences what my parents and I went through and that the district focuses on serving the needs of students primarily.



What is the biggest challenge PISD students will face in the classroom during the 2020-21 school year due to COVID-19, and how would you address it as a board member?



EP: The biggest challenge for Pearland ISD students this year will be the lack of face-to-face instruction and socialization among peers. As a former high school student myself, I understand the importance of interacting with teachers in the classroom on a daily basis and how critical it is for a student’s education should they require additional assistance in learning the material of the day. Subsequently, school is one of the ways many students learn socialization skills and are prepared on working together as groups with one goal in mind. As a trustee, it is our responsibility to ensure that the superintendent is working with students, teachers, parents and our community on developing creative solutions that will best serve their needs while using our monetary resources efficiently and effectively.



How has COVID-19 changed the goals and priorities of the district?



EP: In my opinion, the current COVID-19 pandemic has not changed the primary goal of the district, which is to serve the needs of students. However, in order to meet this goal, we must ask ourselves two questions: Do we know the needs of students, and if so, what are they? Once we have answers to both questions, we can then craft a district improvement plan which mirrors the specific needs of our students in Pearland ISD and act to enact those plans. Our needs are different from other districts around the area and we cannot take a one-size-fits-all approach to fulfill those needs.



What can board members do to ensure that PISD students and families from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds have equitable access to the resources they need for success, particularly this year?



EP: In order to ensure that students and families from all backgrounds have equitable access to our resources, the board of trustees must first fulfill its job responsibility. According to the Texas Education Code (§ 11.051), the board of trustees must “oversee the management of the district; and ensure that the superintendent implements and monitors plans, procedures, programs, and systems to achieve appropriate, clearly defined, and desired results in the major areas of district operations.” Subsequently, the board sees and understands the needs of students through the process and documentation provided by the superintendent, allowing them to know of and receive access to resources dedicated to helping them succeed.



How can board members assist in holding district leaders accountable for reforming necessary programs and services?



EP: As trustees, one of our responsibilities is to serve and care for the needs of our students. In order to do this, we must see that we use district polices to ensure strategies are developed targeting the needs of all students including suicide prevention, special education and other needs identified by the comprehensive needs’ assessment. This assessment is managed by the administration and completed by community members—students, parents, teachers [and] educational staff.



If elected, what are your priorities for your term?



EP: My priority would be to ensure all student needs are met while teachers are respected, equipped and empowered in their everyday passion. This includes fulfilling mental health and special education needs while ensuring there is increased transparency with the budget and the effective use of our resources. We must be a bridge between the community we serve and the leaders tasked with managing our district. If elected, this will be my responsibility under oath as provided in Texas law and district policy.









Kris Schoeffler




Occupation: Veterinarian


Experience: Pearland ISD parent and graduate; small-business owner; service on various boards in Pearland


Contact: 281-317-0435; www.electkris.com




Why did you choose to run for the position?



KS: The success of Pearland ISD is paramount to our community. I have six children who will graduate from Pearland ISD. I am a taxpayer in Pearland. I employ local Pearland graduates. I want to see all Pearland ISD students succeed the way I did. I have the education, experience and passion to keep our students safe while also improving the financial viability of Pearland ISD. I am an expert at identifying problems and working to resolve them. Pearland ISD needs leadership with experience, intelligence and skin in the game. I provide all three.



What is the biggest challenge PISD students will face in the classroom during the 2020-21 school year due to COVID-19, and how would you address it as a board member?



KS: Social distancing has been hard on everyone, but our children are the hardest-hit of all. Not only have important life events, like games, prom and graduation, been canceled, but children are even being asked to avoid each other socially. We have replaced teachers and team activities with computer screens and virtual classrooms. Face-to-face interaction is vital to child development. Researchers fear the impact that these changes will have upon children, many of whom already struggle with the everyday problems of growing up. As a trustee, it would be my priority to return students to as much normalcy as can be safely achieved as early as possible. We must protect our children from COVID-19, but we must also be wary of increasing the challenges they face internally. I will help to find that balance.



How has COVID-19 changed the goals and priorities of the district?



KS: The goal of every parent is to get their child back at the end of the day, safe and sound. The 2016 bond initiative focused on increasing physical security at district campuses. But COVID-19 is not hindered by such measures. The district is now trying to protect students, teachers and their families from an unseen menace. This has resulted in a total transformation of the way education is delivered in Pearland. The teachers and administrators of PISD have worked tirelessly to adapt to the new virtual learning environment. They have completely overhauled lessons, reimagined workspaces and invested in technology to make sure that our kids are not only kept safe, but also kept on track to succeed. Despite the change in strategy, the goals remain the same: safety and achievement for our students.



What can board members do to ensure that PISD students and families from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds have equitable access to the resources they need for success, particularly this year?



KS: The 31.4% of children considered to be economically disadvantaged in our district stand to lose the most during this COVID-19 pandemic. These students may not have access to personal computers or the internet. They may not have parents that can stay home during the day. Many depend upon the district for basic needs, like nutrition, affirmation and affection. The more schools are closed, the more these kids will suffer. Without on-campus education, they will likely remain disadvantaged indefinitely. Pearland ISD has taken the first steps by opening campuses while also providing technology to all children. Now PISD must continue to act in the best interest of the most vulnerable among us by increasing available services and striving to return to normalcy as early and safely [as] possible.



How can board members assist in holding district leaders accountable for reforming necessary programs and services?



KS: There are two major mechanisms by which district leadership can be held accountable. First, the school board provides both direction and critique to the school superintendent. It is always in his best interest to make sure that the administration accomplishes the goals outlined by the trustees. Second, the board gets to allocate funding to programs as it sees fit. Blindly throwing money at a problem seldom yields the results people seek, but trying to fix problems with insufficient resources is equally frustrating. It takes both clear direction and sufficient resources to solve problems. The board must communicate its goals to the administration clearly and supply sufficient resources to meet those goals. Prudence and experience are key to fostering buy-in and making sound financial decisions without micromanaging the district.



If elected, what are your priorities for your term?



KS: My plan can be summarized with the acronym SAFE: Security, Achievement, Fiscal Responsibility and Engagement. Every parent’s priority is the security of their children. In addition to their physical security, we have to protect the mental health of our students in the real world while guarding against the virtual threats they face from cyber-bullies and predators. Regarding achievement, PISD is the fourth-highest-achieving district in the Houston area. We should be fist. Fiscal responsibility means being a good steward of the resources we receive from taxpayers. Engagement must come from all levels: trustees, administrators, principals, teachers, students, parents and the community. Without full buy-in from all these groups, our district will never be as strong as it could. Vote for me to keep our district SAFE.









Jessica Garcia Shafer




Occupation: epidemiologist


Experience: mom; Hispanic Employee Resource Group, communications lead






Why did you choose to run for the position?



JGS: I admire the energy that former trustee Floyd brought to the position and felt strongly that I would like to continue his efforts to make PISD a modern and inclusive district. I also felt my perspective as a scientist and a Hispanic was something needed on the board before COVID was even an issue. Now, I would like to lend my experience with infectious disease control to the district to ensure the safety of students and staff. Lastly, I have experience with budgets, contracts, and project management through my day job, so I am confident I can handle the business aspects of the position.



What is the biggest challenge PISD students will face in the classroom during the 2020-21 school year due to COVID-19, and how would you address it as a board member?



JGS: Stress and mental health might be the most widespread issue due to COVID. The stress of being exposed to the virus is obvious, but additionally, the lack of peer interaction, new learning mechanisms, technology overload, family dynamics, lack of resources and special needs can push both kids and adults into emotional overload. The board can help by adding resources to mental health and general support staff that can help with these issues as well as providing teachers with the resources they need to do their jobs, like microphones.



How has COVID-19 changed the goals and priorities of the district?



JGS: The goals haven’t changed but the priorities certainly have; the health of students and staff is an unspoken priority around which our actions and perspectives have changed. For example, the work required by the janitorial and technology staff has at least doubled, with a potential to cause major delays to everyone’s progress. Ensuring access to devices and Wi-Fi has certainly been a major monetary investment that we should optimize in the coming years to better prepare our students for a world based primarily on computers and online.



What can board members do to ensure that PISD students and families from all racial and socioeconomic backgrounds have equitable access to the resources they need for success, particularly this year?



JGS: I am glad PISD committed to a one-to-one initiative, but there are still plenty of difficulties that anyone might encounter while trying to work with new technology. The board can ensure that teachers are using the approved programs (i.e. Seesaw, Canvas), and only adding additional programs only when necessary, not due to personal preference. Checking back in with all families after the first month would also be wise, to ensure that parents and students have the resources they need to be successful.



How can board members assist in holding district leaders accountable for reforming necessary programs and services?



JGS: The board should have a schedule within which each program/service area lead should be required to publicly report their successes, needs, wants and plans at least once a year. Holding the report during a public board meeting promotes accountability from the board as well as from the program leaders, allowing parents and students to understand what the programs’ goals are and who is responsible for them.



If elected, what are your priorities for your term?



JGS: I would like to prioritize expanding mental health programs; adding programs to address and improve racial tensions, intolerance and hate speech; and increasing our offerings for special education services.


By Haley Morrison
Haley Morrison came to Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after graduating from Baylor University. She was promoted to editor in February 2019. Haley primarily covers city government.


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