Q&A: Candidates for Magnolia ISD Position 6 discuss district challenges, COVID-19

Meet the two candidates running for Magnolia ISD board of trustees Position 6. (Community Impact staff)
Meet the two candidates running for Magnolia ISD board of trustees Position 6. (Community Impact staff)

Meet the two candidates running for Magnolia ISD board of trustees Position 6. (Community Impact staff)

Editor's note: In the print edition, Sharon C. Craig’s responses to the questions relating to Magnolia ISD’s biggest challenges and population growth were swapped. The corrected responses are listed below.


HOUSTON



Magnolia ISD Position 6










Travis Moffatt*



Occupation: optometrist and owner of Moffatt Eye Care


Experience: Dr. Moffatt has been a Magnolia School board trustee since 2015. He is the owner of Moffatt Eye Care in downtown Magnolia.






Why are you running for election to the Magnolia ISD board of trustees?



TM: First, I would just like to say that it has been such an honor and a privilege to get to serve this wonderful school district and our community the last six years. I have a deep conviction to preserve and protect public education. Our kids and our community deserve a school district that offers a quality education that isn’t watered down or agenda driven. As a Christian conservative, I want to do my part in always trying to improve the readiness of Magnolia ISD graduating seniors as they move on to their respective career trades, college or serving in a branch of the military.



What do you believe is the most important role of a school board member for the district?



TM: There are so many different aspects to having a successful school district in 2021. School board trustees are ultimately overseers or stewards of the district. The technically defined roles of a school board are setting the tax rate, approving the budget and hiring the superintendent. The role of the board should not be to micromanage the superintendent and the administration in day-to-day activities. Trustees should have a balanced role of encouraging and coming alongside the administration to work together for the good of the students and teachers by representing all taxpayers in Magnolia in a fiscally responsible way.



How do you believe the district can best prepare for population growth in Magnolia as a result of incoming development coming soon to the area?



TM: The newly opened [Hwy.] 249 expressway expansion and several new neighborhood and business developments are going to bring thousands of people to Magnolia. We have done a good job of preparing for the possible building of new campuses with very responsible land acquisition over the years. When the time comes to build new campuses, I believe we will be ready. We also have been preparing financially since I have been a board trustee with restructuring a lot of our debt which will save Magnolia taxpayers millions of dollars over the next several years. It’s worth pointing out that Magnolia ISD has one of the lowest debt-per-student ratios in Houston. This gives us a very strong financial position to expand and build new campuses when needed and to make the necessary hires of teachers and staff that come along with opening new schools.



What do you believe are MISD’s biggest challenges at this time, and how do you plan to help the district overcome those challenges?



TM: COVID, masks and vaccinations are the big elephant in the room right now and how to respond to that. Gov. [Greg] Abbott has recently lifted the state mandate for masks, and the Texas Education Agency has left it up to individual school boards to make the decision for their respective districts. While I am only one of seven school board members and cannot unilaterally make a decision, it is my opinion that masks should be optional from this point forward for teachers and students. I know everyone won’t agree with me, and that is okay. Unfortunately, it has become such a political football that people have become very passionate about one side or the other and shaming each other instead of respecting each individual’s personal choice, which [is what] I think it should definitely be from this point forward.



What changes, if any, do you think should be made to the district’s current approach to COVID-19 as students and staff prepare for the incoming school year?



Candidate did not provide a response.








Sharon C. Craig



Occupation: retired teacher


Experience: I'm a Texas-certified teacher grades 6-12 in Spanish, bilingual and ESL since 2005. I have 10 total years teaching, two of them at Magnolia high school. I have seven additional years at Extraordinary Education, which is a private home school co-op. I'm also a freelance tutor, interpreter and editor.






Why are you running for election to the Magnolia ISD board of trustees?



SC: Due to schools implementing a progressive teaching philosophy of Social Emotional Learning—that is, “SEL”—instead of fact-based learning, we need to give students an education which will give them an equal opportunity to succeed in the world, not one which is merely looking for equal outcomes. Our Montgomery County Republican Party passed a resolution denouncing SEL. I also want an opportunity to make a contribution to the children and parents of Magnolia. I believe that my life experiences, excellent classical education, teaching experience and the fact that I'm a native Texan will help me bring a conservative and traditional approach to the trustee position.



What do you believe is the most important role of a school board member for the district?



SC: A school board trustee should endeavor to be an advocate for and representative of the students and parents of the district and never a proponent of any curriculum, policy or action that would adversely affect that commitment to my integrity as a trustee.



How do you believe the district can best prepare for population growth in Magnolia as a result of incoming development coming soon to the area?



SC: As someone who's lived here 35 years, I have seen incredible changes in this area. This is old Magnolia, right here, where we’ve lived for 35 years. Now, there’s new Magnolia, and we’re spread out all over. I believe the greatest challenge is our burgeoning population with an influx of people from different states all over; they're coming here for good reason. The ongoing [Texas Department of Transportation] construction and the concomitant traffic issues which it produces right here in this town, which holds up school buses and traffic and [increases] the possibility of more wrecks. There's also a need for more qualified teachers as we expand and get better—we’ve seen that happen. There's a need for new campuses as well. I will be keeping myself informed on all aspects of these and other challenges which may arise. I will always put the interests of our students and parents first—no other interests, I don’t care what they are—as that is my already stated position.



What do you believe are MISD’s biggest challenges at this time, and how do you plan to help the district overcome those challenges?



SC: In the current situation, which is a special and unusual one, I believe that the disruption to in-person schooling numbers due to the virus issue is on top of, and might overshadow, the usual growth trends. Between April 1 and the end of the school year, we'll get a better idea of the updated demand, but this fall will still be difficult to predict. Some students that have left MISD and gone to other schools or home schooling will probably stay out, while some may return. Maybe a parent survey of current and former students—going back to at least February 2020—would help the district make forecasts. I think we should be cautious and not overanticipate future growth until we see how things play out over the next few months.



What changes, if any, do you think should be made to the district’s current approach to COVID-19 as students and staff prepare for the incoming school year?



SC: I believe that the majority of parents and students are ready, more than ready, to get back to school and some semblance of normalcy. So moving forward, I am for no masks; in-person learning with teaching of the basics; return to our athletic, music and academic programs; and respect for parental rights and concerns, remembering that children belong to parents and not to the state. In addition, the current contact tracing protocol is a direct invasion of privacy [and] can lead to children being removed from their family homes, not to mention the possible exposure of and release of personal information, which is a violation of our rights as Americans as well as being against the law. This needs to be changed, and parents need to become aware of the dangers of contact tracing and the ramifications of its use. Looking at www.magnoliaisd.org, I don’t see what the district’s protocol is for testing and vaccination of those possibly identified as “positive” or “exposed.” As in other states, I am certain that parents will be opposed to mandatory testing and vaccinations of their students.


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