Q&A: Get to know the candidates for Klein ISD board of trustees Position 7

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Klein ISD board of trustees Position 7

Mary J. Crosby
Phone number:
832-374-1985

Experience: licensed vocational nurse for 23 years, PrayOn Inc. educator and trustee for 13 years, educator and advisory board member, Barnham Graduate and Seminary School for three years, KISD volunteer for 10 years, Greenspoint Mission and Pregnancy Center Volunteer

Top Priorities:
A) Ensure equity in providing academic services for students who need differentiated learning and needing special accommodations
B) Increase post-secondary readiness and academic performance
C) Close achievement gap between ethnic groups
D) Increase parental involvement
E) Teacher support and empowerment to use teaching skills expertise and knowledge in the classroom
F) Student, family and community inclusion and communication

Why are you running for this position?
I want to serve students and our community through education, great leadership skills and connectivity. I want each student to receive a top-notch education with the best teachers and resources available. Living in a technological world, strategies to increasing the ability of students to read, write and do arithmetic is a priority. Returning to the basics of receiving a fundamental education and building a strong positive moral culture will be in the best interest of every student. Individual educational plans for each student with compassionate care; support for each teacher; and building unity with school, parents and community. Address the disparities and disproportionate disciplinary actions against minorities.

What are the biggest challenges the district faces, and how do you plan to address them?
The biggest problems facing the district is equity, equality and empowerment for every student. To resolve the issue, every student must be valued and treated equally. The resolution is to provide a clear strategy to improve every student education experience thereby narrowing the inequality gap. Revisit district policy making necessary changes to reflect more counseling and mediation on campus level. Focus on teachers being the catalyst to force change in the classroom for academic success and positive climate for learning. Providing equal resources among all schools, providing additional support for at-risk and low-performing schools. Financial accountability and allocation management. The resolution is to redirect monies to students and classroom needs as a priority and community involvement with a community financial advisory board.

How can the district ensure its school funding is adequate and sustainable in the long run?
School funding accuracy and sustainability are best projected by the numbers students the district will be serving each calendar year with a clear projection of student growth. Having local campus connection and engagement with budget stakeholders teams to includes administration, parents, teachers, community members and other staff members who understand each schools individual needs. Calculating federal funding, state funding local funding. Title One dollars and special needs services funding and community business support and holding community public budget and collaboration information meeting.

How can the district better serve economically-disadvantaged students, which constitute about 46% of the district?
KISD can better serve economically disadvantage students through education reform. When student miss developing crucial foundation skills, they have difficulty in subsequent learning tasks which causes a gap between them and their counter parts. Policy changes of fairness across the district to include every student receiving a fair appropriate and accessible education will better serve those who are facing educational disparities. Understanding the different learning styles, difference in knowledge and the rate students learn will help close the gap. Students who fall behind usually stay behind. The goal is still “no child left behind.” Each student should be given the same educational opportunity no the financial status or family dynamics.

Do you believe the recent employee salary increase is a) sustainable and b) enough to keep the district competitive?
KISD teachers deserve the best competitive salary compared to their counter parts with a bonus. While students are the heart to the district, teachers are the adhesive that holds the district together. Yes, KISD is competitive and with the support of our law makers, educational support agencies, and community stake holders, it is sustainable.

Rob Ellis
Phone number: 713-775-7360

Experience: Educated in KISD Schools (Ehrhardt, Mittelstadt, Kleb, Klein), graduated Harvard Law School and University of Cambridge, clerked for United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jennifer Elrod, worked as a partner at Yetter Coleman LLP, currently work as head of litigation at Noble Energy

Top Priorities:
A) Teachers—our teachers are critical to everything we do at KISD and need to be compensated and supported to make sure we retain the very best.

B) Student excellence—maintaining Klein ISD’s tradition of preparing students academically for life, whether in college or trade certifications.

C) Financial support—working with state legislators to continue recent progress in state educational finance reform made in House Bill 3.

Why are you running for this position?
The Klein community has given me so much, having grown up in KISD. I watched my dad serve on the Klein school board in the 1990s and saw the positive impact of his service. Now with my own children in Klein schools, I am intensely committed to our district. And while the world has too many attorneys, the school board has room for one more–and I feel that my legal training can bring a helpful perspective to the board discussions.

What are the biggest challenges the district faces, and how do you plan to address them?
Our hardworking teachers are the front line in preparing our students for success. One of our biggest ongoing challenges is competing to hire and retain the very best teachers. We need to help our teachers feel supported by the district and enabled to do their best work with our children.

How can the district ensure its school funding is adequate and sustainable in the long run?
Earlier this year the state legislature took an encouraging step in fixing our state school funding system. This allowed the district to lower the tax rate while also increasing teacher salaries. While the district needs to remain fiscally responsible, we must also continue working with our state representatives to fix the state’s educational finance framework.

How can the district better serve economically disadvantaged students, which constitute about 46% of the district?
We need to provide every student with an excellent education, particularly for our economically disadvantaged students. Again, this centers on empowering all of our teachers to do their best work. For students who do not want to attend college, the district should continue to develop classes that teach a valuable trade, certification, and life skills to allow every student to leave KISD prepared for success in life.

Do you believe the recent employee salary increase is a) sustainable and b) enough to keep the district competitive?
The recent teacher pay increase is encouraging and we need to continue to engage with state representatives to continue prioritizing school funding. The district should continually assess teacher salaries to make sure that KISD is a competitive destination for the best teachers.

Maria Hartmann
Phone Number:
832-289-5031
Website: www.hartmann4kisd.com

Experience:                           ­­­

  • I have lived in KISD for 35 years. I attended Strack Intermediate and Klein Oak High School where I graduated in 1990.
  • Graduated from the University of Houston with a degree in elementary education with a specialization in early childhood.
  • I taught for eight years at a Title 1 school in Spring ISD prior to staying home with our four children.
  • Reading specialist and literacy coach
  • Member of the KISD Strategic Planning Committee
  • Member of the KISD Leadership Coalition
  • Tax Ratification Election Advisory Committee member
  • Director on the Klein Education Foundation
  • Member of the Klein Education Foundation Grant Review Committee
  • Benignus Parent Teacher Organization president, vice president, Watch DOGS coordinator
  • Krimmel PTO Vice President, Klein Oak Choir Booster Club vice president and volunteer coordinator
  • Recipient of the Alumni of the Month Award given at the KISD Board Meeting
  • Mentor at McDougal Elementary
  • Literacy Squad Coordinator at Greenwood Forest Elementary

Top Priorities:

  • Klein ISD Finances
  • School Safety
  • Academic Excellence

Why are you running for this position?
I am running for the KISD school board because I am an advocate for public schools and passionate about this school district that I attended and graduated from. KISD provided me with a quality education and I want to use this opportunity to give back to the district. I believe I can bring a unique perspective to the board both as a teacher, volunteer and parent. I want to continue to ensure that KISD provides a top tier education for every student.

What are the biggest challenges the district faces, and how do you plan to address them?
As a fast growth school district school finances continue to be a challenge. We need to advocate at the state level for more funding. We need to communicate and educate our tax payers on how school finance works and encourage them to reach out to their elected government officials for better school funding. At a district level we need to continue to carefully evaluate where we are spending our money to ensure academic success.

School safety continues to be a concern for every school district. Our KISD police department is outstanding. We need to expand upon the successful programs that have been implemented and develop new programs based on the needs of our students. We have to continue to provide our students with an excellent education in both a physically and emotionally safe learning environment. Providing support to our school counselors is critical as we continue to see increasing challenges regarding the mental health of our students.

Ensuring the academic success of every student is what our districts shared vision is all about. By offering a variety of courses and pathways we will ensure that our students graduate with a purpose. Developing curriculum that offers academic rigor, differentiation for students that are behind, and academic interventions that help close the gaps in students learning is critical to the success of every student.

How can the district ensure its school funding is adequate and sustainable in the long run?
We need to continually evaluate our spending to ensure we are being fiscally responsible and conservative. In addition, we need work with our state legislators in regards to making school finance a priority.

How can the district better serve economically disadvantaged students, which constitute about 46% of the district?
Economically disadvantaged students are a growing need across the state. The additional funding from the federal government needs to continue to be used for academic interventions, tutoring, and additional staff. We need to assess the students then develop a personalized learning plan based on their strengths and needs. Partnering with various groups in our communities provides these students with mentors, tutors, and after school clubs. The support of our family engagement department is crucial as they offer numerous opportunities to help educate and equip our students and families.

Do you believe the recent employee salary increase is a) sustainable and b) enough to keep the district competitive?
Based on the current state funding formula the pay structure is sustainable. KISD will continue to be competitive with our surrounding districts in order to retain the highest quality educators.

Rebekah Schlichting
Phone number:
832-663-8834
Email: rsforklein@yahoo.com
Website: https://rs4klein.wordpress.com

Experience: Rebekah is a parent with children in multiple Klein campuses, who, after a decade of educational management, has been called to serve the community which has produced rich educational opportunities. Receiving her ALM from Harvard this November, she is eager to apply the frameworks and tools learned through her years in graduate school to benefit the aggregate of the Klein region. Residents, students, faculty and commerce hold an intricate and dynamic relationship in the district. With shifting economic and consumer behavior factors, coupled with regularity and budgetary constraints, Klein requires a constant comprehensive strategic evaluation.
-National exposure to public and private education systems
-Decade of educational management
-Identified multiple gaps in current district policies
-Independent advocate for procedural injustices
-Harvard, HESA secretary
-President of student nonprofit
-Ambassador of higher education

Why are you running for this position?
As a current parent of district students, I have witnessed multiple procedural injustices, inefficiencies and gaps between policy and execution. I pushed myself through graduate school and am determined to apply the skills and tools adopted in my studies to enhance the community. Born on the east coast, I hold a unique perspective, being exposed to many educational models across the United States.

I have no hidden agenda, no ulterior motive: I am nonpolitical, fueled by intrinsic satisfaction and desire to improve the saliency and integrity of our community. It’s simple: I have the skills and Klein has the need.

What are the biggest challenges the district faces, and how do you plan to address them?
The gap between intention and execution is a main source of dissonance in the district, from poor policy communication to campus variances, communication failures have neglected to serve the actual purpose.

Revamping communication through both vertical and horizontal systems create transparent information and create trust between the social contract of public education. This goes beyond campus to home, but campus to campus. What best practices can one campus learn and adopt into their own model.

How can the district ensure its school funding is adequate and sustainable in the long run?
Economic drivers are shifting the demand for education, and as the population in Harris County is projected to steadily increase for a duration of intervals, education is a sacred resource and should not feel the perils of scarcity. From a public policy perspective, this means greater stress on our educational infrastructure, limiting resources and increasing liabilities. How do we respond to the growing demand? Take note from the share-economy trend and imitate commerce sector: it’s time to disrupt or be disrupted. Our current educational system balances the strong tradition of our Klein community, and the need to innovate creative solutions. This is the biggest challenge if the district, and by keeping open innovation model, being open to asking questions and examining alternative proposals, we can create operational changes which positively increase the value proposition to internal and external publics.

How can the district better serve economically-disadvantaged students, which constitute about 46% of the district?
This ties into horizontal communication, where learning tactics used in one campus are adapted to the variables of a unique student body. By welcoming business and community institutions into the education model, we not only alleviate the stress on our own capital but have provided services not previously offered before.

First identifying where the expenditures meet the need, any gaps in this analysis lead to an opportunity to increase community participation in local campuses.

Corporate Social Responsibility is more than good for the community but is good for business. Allowing a local business to offer pro-bono services and turning education centers into entire community centers creates opportunity and builds relationships with the greater community. For example, a martial arts studio to conduct child safety or self-defense initiatives, or bringing the theater and art galleries into schools, offering after-school programs at local community centers and hubs, create a cycle of nurturing and, frankly, becomes an excercise in living the Klein vision.

Second, opening niche programs to a broader attendance pool elicits intrinsic motivation, and increases a students likelihood  of performance. A promise denotes unspoken understandings; health, safety, for the mind and body.

Do you believe the recent employee salary increase is a) sustainable and b) enough to keep the district competitive?
Proportionally increasing salaries to meet the increased cost of living and adjusting for inflation is sustainable on a long run projection. Salaries need to be competitive, and I dare argue, not only competitive in our area but on a national level. Attracting top talent should be a national priority, and by pivoting from Klein’s competitive advantage, opportunity, our district sits apart from comparative regions. Klein is a district where there are more activities than there is time to do them, there is rich local history, outdoor space and the proximity to downtown or northern attractions. There is literally something for everyone in this once German farming town, and no matter where you travel, you’ll run into someone who’s heard of Klein. The stellar reputation, the nationally-recognized programs, and accolades are what makes Klein attractive. Klein’s main attraction isn’t a paycheck, rather it’s heart is what calls talented and dedicated employees. It’s the neighbors who surround the local campuses and the small businesses who support school PTOs.

James Wang
Phone number: 281-656-5887

Experience:
• 10 yrs as chairperson for HEMC discounts and service program. Coordinate benefits amount multiple locations.
• Volunteer on Scouts BSA, VorTX 3735

Top Priorities:
• House Bill 3 Compliance
• Secure, stable, adequate funding sources
• Attract, retain, develop and motivate teachers
• Increase community involvement

Why are you running for this position?
My kids are in district and part of Klein Robotic Team. I see firsthand on some of challenges that they are facing. Hence, I’m seeking an opportunity to have an elected voice to work on and addressing those challenges

What are the biggest challenges the district faces, and how do you plan to address them?
Navigate uncharted HB3 financial water -> Ensure compliance and maximized district’s allotment.
Retain teachers who will teach the whole child ->Review the professional development opportunities for KISD educators. Losing students to charter school -> Governing with a focus on literacy, teacher retention, safetyearly childhood learning and college readiness

How can the district ensure its school funding is adequate and sustainable in the long run?
It will require some real flexibility and fiscal ingenuity. District will need to seek alternative/creative funding source. In addition performs each program cost and benefits analysis and eliminate sub-part programs.

How can the district better serve economically disadvantaged students, which constitute about 46% of the district?
Economically disadvantaged students have three area of concern: resource, transportation and guidance. The district is lacking on latter two. Provide activities transportation will allow them to participate. In addition, create a virtual “after school” where guidance and mentoring can be given.

Do you believe the recent employee salary increase is a) sustainable and b) enough to keep the district competitive?
No, because it is based on unstable funding source and unplanned increase. Neighbor districts have comparable salary. We will need to compete on both hard benefit and soft benefit.

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Eva Vigh
Eva Vigh joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2018 as a reporter for Spring and Klein. Prior to this position, she covered upstream oil and gas news for a drilling contractors' association.
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