Curtis Rath: A Q&A with the McKinney ISD at-large school board candidate

Curtis Rath Curtis Rath[/caption]

Longtime McKinney resident Curtis Rath is running for the McKinney ISD board of trustees at-large position. Rath is running against incumbent Curtis Rippee. Early voting for the board election runs April 24-May 2. Election day is May 6.

Occupation:


Director of Business Development – Food for J. Rettenmaier USA for North America.

1. Why are you running for school board?


McKinney ISD is one of a handful of school districts, in the nation, that uses Forced Busing to achieve a balance of students, based upon their SES (socioeconomic status). There is a good reason that most districts have abandoned this policy. It does not work.

Although McKinney ISD spends over $8 million per year to transport student across the district, test scores show that ECD (economically disadvantaged students) in McKinney ISD have a lower pass rates than ECD students in comparable districts in Collin County and Texas.

Not only has this forced busing policy hurt the ECD students, it has negatively affected the test scores of all McKinney ISD students.

This policy must be ended and replaced with parental choice of schools within McKinney ISD and using the transportation savings, to create programs that work for McKinney’s ECD students.

2. What issues do you think the district will face in the near future?


I see three major issues, that must be addressed immediately.

  • Parental choice: While McKinney ISD restricts parental school choice, parents are choosing not to send their students to McKinney ISD. Since 2010, the populations of both McKinney and Frisco have grown by over 30,000 and the enrollment of Frisco ISD has increased by over 25,000 students, yet McKinney ISD, added less than 1,400 students. Parents in McKinney are not buying what McKinney ISD is selling.

  • Teachers: In 2011, while complaining about the “deepest state funding cuts to education in decades,” MISD slashed “68 teachers and aides and 65 administrative and support” staff positions. Despite their promises to “minimize the impact on core curriculum classroom,” ISD immediately began replacing teaching positions with administrative positions. In 2013, the district threatened to cut up to 290 teaching positions, unless voters approved a tax increase giving McKinney homeowners the highest property tax rate in the state of Texas.While increasing overall staffing, McKinney ISD still has 42 fewer teachers than they did in 2010.  The results are predictable, in the 2014-15 school year the district achieved a passing rate (89 percent), that was lower than the Collin County rate (91.2 percent).

  • Open, honest and transparent government


3. If elected, how would you help address those issues?



  • Parental choice: Parental involvement is a vital cog in our children's education and must be aggressively promoted by McKinney ISD. McKinney ISD’s SES forced busing policy must end and be replaced by the following steps:

    • Allow parents to choose neighborhood schools or allow students to transfer to other schools within the district

    • Reinvest the savings from the $8 million busing costs to programs, schools and initiatives that help McKinney’s neediest neighborhoods

    • Investigate year-round schools

    • Create intern, mentoring cooperative efforts with McKinney’s business community



  • Teachers: Restore the number of teaching positions to levels in 2010. Make it a priority to make sure that all teachers have adequate books, supplies, support and computers.  It is inexcusable for a district building the “nation's most expensive high school football stadium” to have classes without books or computers.

  • Open, honest and transparent government: All meetings must be televised with all documentation made available to the public. Establish citizen committees to advise the district.


4. What qualifications do you feel you have that make you a prime candidate?


First, I have no business or personal conflict of interest with McKinney ISD or any other ISD in the state of Texas, that could negatively impact my ability to make a fair and impartial decision about financial issues facing the district.

Second, my business background with sales and marketing, is a missing part of the board.

Third, I have a good relationship with McKinney City Council, Collin County Commissioners and Texas legislators, as demonstrated by the number of their endorsements I have received. Sending lawyers and demanding letters does little to create a conducive, working relationship.


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