Q&A: Get to know the sole candidate for Klein ISD board of trustees Position 6, Cathy M. Arellano

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Incumbent Cathy M. Arellano is running unopposed for Position 6 on the Klein ISD board of trustees. Early voting runs from Oct. 21-Nov. 1, and Election Day is Nov. 5.

Cathy M. Arellano*
Website: I can be reached through the Klein ISD website (board of trustees)

Occupation: retired educator—dance/drill team instructor for 26 years and administrator for 14 years, Jazzercise class owner and instructor for three years, owner of MDDTTexas for more than 20 years, co-owner of Dance Surge and Battle Ground Dance

Experience: 11 years as a drill team instructor and social studies teacher, 15 years as a dance/drill team instructor at Klein Oak High School, 14 years as an administrator at Klein Oak High School (assistant /associate principal and head of ninth grade wing), almost three years as a Klein ISD board of trustee

Top Priorities: To oversee and govern the components of the district in regard to:
A) Curriculum and innovative programs to promote the best for our students
B) Safety and security for students and faculty
C) Financial stability now and in the future

As a longtime resident of the Klein community, former educator as a dance/drill team instructor, administrator and special needs parent, I understand the importance of all of the above. I believe that every student can learn and be successful; therefore, my priority as a board member is to strive to make that a reality in our district.

Why are you running for this position?
I am a former educator in KISD for 29 years. I am a parent of a special needs son who went to Roth Elementary, Hildebrandt Intermediate School and graduated from Klein Oak High School and still flourishes in the Klein community—I want to give back. I hope that my areas of expertise as a teacher, administrator, parent and member of the board of trustees will continue to promote success for every student that walks the halls of any KISD school.

What are the biggest challenges the district faces, and how do you plan to address them?

The biggest challenges the district faces each year is expanding pathways and various learning opportunities for every student to be successful and follow their dreams and passions. This also entails providing safe schools where students are encouraged and provided with resources to learn and become an active part of their community. The financial issues, we, as a district have faced in the past two years, are a challenge. We  have learned many lessons, and we now know, as a community, working together with legislators, we can make a difference. Continued advocacy is a necessity for our voices and opinions to count.

We must continue to promote successful programs such as the KISD Police Department Leadership Academy, the KISD Parent University, and community mentorships. Supporting programs and extracurricular activities provide students the opportunity to be a part of their school and assists them in developing leadership skills. The importance of academics, along with the dynamics of fine arts; athletics; career and technical education; science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs; and community service clubs are significant in the development of the whole child.

I do believe that our community and KISD understand the importance of having the most qualified teachers and faculty. District leadership and the Board carefully monitor finances to stay competitive

How can the district ensure its school funding is adequate and sustainable in the long run?
We have very capable district leaders who understand the importance of financial stability and consistently evaluate and analyze the status of local and state funding. That information, along with the communication with our Legislature and community involvement, are all necessary to provide sustainable financial security.

How can the district better serve economically disadvantaged students, which constitute about 46% of the district?
We are a fast-growing district, and we embrace all students. We must continue to provide every student the resources to learn and avenues to do so. It is imperative to know every student and their family by name, strength and need. We must provide students with various academic pathways and programs that support the whole child. Personalized learning offers every student an opportunity to work at their own pace and follow their passion. Extra support is essential for any student who may need it.

We must continue to promote successful programs such as KISD Police Department Leadership Academy and KISD Parent University and community mentorships. Supporting programs and extracurricular activities provide students the opportunity to be a part of their school and assist them in developing leadership skills. The importance of academics, along with the dynamics of fine arts; athletics; career and technical education; science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs; and community service clubs are significant in the development of the whole child.

Another huge asset is the incorporation of community professionals, who provide our students an abundance of expertise. Innovation challenges, such as ‘Klein In Space’ and ‘Water Warriors’ spark all grade-level students and give them the opportunity to work in collaboration with professionals, educators and fellow students to explore solutions to current and perplex problems beyond the textbook.

Do you believe the recent employee salary increase is a) sustainable and b) enough to keep the district competitive?
I do believe that our community and KISD understand the importance of having the most qualified teachers and faculty. District leadership and The board carefully monitor finances to stay competitive. Our goal is to continue to retain and attract the highest-quality teachers and staff.

*Incumbent

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Hannah Zedaker
Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. In January 2019, she was promoted to serve as the editor of the Spring/Klein edition where she covers Spring ISD and Harris County Commissioners Court, in addition to business, development and transportation news.
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