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College Station school board candidates

College Station school board candidates

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College Station school board, Place 1

AMY ALGE

What is your campaign platform? (150 words)

I’m the daughter of a special education teacher and the mother of two daughters (one who has learning differences herself). I am trained in special education, having earned dual-degrees in Special Education and Studio Art, and I have worked in the public school system as both a tutor and a paraprofessional.

I am running for the school board because I passionately believe that every child is unique and possesses an amazing amount of potential, and that all are entitled to a safe, fun and amazing education. Education is the backbone of society and when our public school system flourishes, our community thrives.

As a CSISD board trustee, my priorities will be 1) to increase teachers’ pay and benefits, 2) to place a greater emphasis on our elementary and intermediate student population, and 3) to ensure that we are supporting the mental health of our students, teachers and staff.

How do we keep our students, faculty and staff safe in school? (150 words)

It is easier to prevent problems than to correct them later. This is true for all safety concerns in our schools. Masks and the implementation of mitigation measures used last year would have slowed the spread of COVID-19. The mask mandate ban has put our school districts in a really difficult situation. However, I believe we need to listen to our local health experts and follow their guidance.

Other safety issues in school are primarily linked to mental health. To create a safe environment that supports the mental health of our students, we need to make conscious efforts towards creating a district-wide culture that is welcoming and inclusive for all members of our community. We also need to proactively address bullying by incorporating social emotional learning (particularly in the early grades) as well as teaching digital citizenship skills.

As the district grows, how big do we let our high schools get before planning for a third high school? Should it be the equivalent of the two current high schools or should it, say, be a STEM magnet school? (150 words)

As the number of families in College Station continues to grow, the question is not “if” we will need a new high school, but “when” we need to build it. For this reason, I am inclined to support the building of a new high school over an expansion should the board be presented with an either/or option.

In regard to whether it should be a traditional public school or magnet school, I am not in favor of a magnet school. Low-income, non-native English speakers, and students with special needs are often underrepresented in magnet schools and I worry that a magnet school would widen the achievement gap. Also, the cost to set up and run magnet schools is higher than traditional public schools and I think that money would be better spent on raising teacher pay and providing more classroom resources.

DARIN PAINE

What is your campaign platform? (150 words)

My full platform of Teacher Retention + College, Career, and Military Readiness + School Security and Safety is on Facebook @ DarinPaineCSISD. As a parent and longtime volunteer in the district, my goal is to serve our hard-working students, teachers, and staff.

We have excellent, dedicated teachers who should be retained and rewarded. Teachers directly impact our students, I want to ensure they have all necessary resources for success. I also want to keep the teachers we have, not losing them to other districts or professions.

As a lifelong learner with a terminal degree, I encourage students to go to college. I acknowledge that not every high school graduate may choose college. Many participate in programs that prepare them to immediately enter the workforce, trade schools, or vocational training. As someone who serves in the Air Force, I have seen the benefits for young people who enter the military out of high school.

How do we keep our students, faculty and staff safe in school? (150 words)

The learning environment for students, teachers, and staff should be secure and safe. I have volunteered for the school district in various roles since 2016 including on the School Safety and Security Committee. Our district takes security and safety very seriously. I want to ensure the relationship between the district and local law enforcement remains strong. Additionally, mental health awareness and education benefits our students and teachers. Therefore, we need to equip teachers and staff with mental health training and tools. This is a great community to raise and educate our children. I want to be sure we work together to make the learning environment secure and productive. Covid cases are below .5% in the district. We have learned so much about the disease and CSISD has done a great job keeping students, teachers, and staff safe. Leadership should stay the course and continue their excellent work.

As the district grows, how big do we let our high schools get before planning for a third high school? Should it be the equivalent of the two current high schools or should it, say, be a STEM magnet school? (150 words)

First, we need to pass the upcoming Bond that will help EVERY campus in the district and will NOT raise your tax rate. Having sat in many CSISD meetings regarding population growth I know we are years away from a third high school. How many years, of course, is the question.

The demographers the district works with have been extremely accurate hence so many new campuses opening in recent years. One option could be a considered addition to CSHS, however, it may make more sense to seek a bond for a third high school instead. The district does a great job of engaging the community to gather feedback. As a school board member, I want to ensure the community has its say as to what is next. Students should be allowed to progress through their education with their peers, making a choice that is best for them and their families.

College Station school board, Place 2BLAINE DECKER

What is your campaign platform? (150 words)

Here are my priorities:

Developing and retaining high-quality teachers

Cultivating goal-oriented technical training programs

Ensuring efficient spending that meets desired learning outcomes

Our children’s education directly results from their community’s effort in setting them up for success. There is a common saying that it takes a village to raise a child. A majority of children’s waking hours are within the walls of our schools. Our school district’s Trustees are the officers of the district’s budget. The school district’s funding comes from one of our largest shared tax burdens, school taxes. College Station School Board Trustees are the arbiters of your money being deployed in our schools.

When considering your vote in our school board election, we need to know how candidates would deploy our dollars. One of the questions that every citizen should be asking is: locally, how do we best nurture the learning environment of our next generation?

How do we keep our students, faculty and staff safe in school? (150 words)

There are many different, daily safety concerns: from playground pitfalls to assault to mental health. We cannot build a bubble around each student. But I believe identification and intervention, properly resourced, are the best means to prevent and mitigate safety concerns. As noted in the September 7th edition of this publication, Brazos County has received “just over $22 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds”. I would work with County and City officials to ensure that a portion of these funds focus on mental health, specifically out-patient solutions and faculty education.

The editors have asked us to speak specifically to weapons and the pandemic. For our district and children 0—17 years, according to CDC data, both issues are not nearly as prevalent as mental health and suicide. They are a valid concern, but my response would be same – properly resourced risk identification and intervention.

As the district grows, how big do we let our high schools get before planning for a third high school? Should it be the equivalent of the two current high schools or should it, say, be a STEM magnet school? (150 words)

I agree with the District’s current plan. Based on insights provided by demographer Bob Templeton at the December 15th, 2020 board meeting and the subsequent workshops, there is an evident need for a third high school. As a new member of the board, I will be open-minded to alternative solutions as conditions evolve, so long as we maintain our status as a District of Innovation and adequately address our students’ needs.

KIM EGE

What is your campaign platform? (150 words)

I’m a former teacher with a long history of volunteering with youth and serving in our schools on district-wide boards and committees and as a volunteer. I’m also a mom with 9th, 7th and 5th graders in CSISD. I have the valuable perspective that comes with parenting kids at all the levels of campuses in our district as well as experience working and volunteering in schools. As a school board trustee, I would focus on serving all of our students to give them a wide range of educational experiences that prepare them for life after graduation. I would work to support our staff, who play the key role in all we do as a district. And I would be committed to planning for future growth in a wise and financially responsible way so that we remain ready to serve the next generation of CSISD students.

How do we keep our students, faculty and staff safe in school? (150 words)

To keep everyone in our schools safe, our district must have effective plans and systems in place to address a variety of school safety situations, but it also must be prepared to adapt. Who would have predicted two years ago that our schools would face a global pandemic while still doing the important job of educating our students? We continue to face that challenge while not knowing what the next one will be, and we must work together as a community and school district to stay focused on our students. People are the key to school safety, and it’s a collaboration between district staff, law enforcement, and our community. Additionally, teaching our students to speak up when they see or hear things that make them feel unsafe is also important, as this allows school administrators to step in before the situation escalates.

As the district grows, how big do we let our high schools get before planning for a third high school? Should it be the equivalent of the two current high schools or should it, say, be a STEM magnet school? (150 words)

Our high schools meet our current needs, but our district continues to grow. While serving on the bond committee, I learned that AMCHS has a capacity of 2,350 and CSHS has a capacity of 1,950 (with potential plans to expand). Students can also attend College View High School. We should consider the additions to CSHS, but beyond that I would support adding a third comprehensive high school over expanding our current schools. This provides more opportunities for students. I would like the new high school to offer similar classes and experiences as AMCHS and CSHS. That said, there are currently programs offered that are unique to their high school campus, like culinary arts and health sciences, and students can choose to attend that school to complete those programs. When planning a new high school, we should consider which new programs we would like to offer to expand student opportunities.

MENGMENG GU

What is your campaign platform? (150 words)

Fiscally responsible — There are two important aspects of promoting fiscal responsibility, increasing income and prioritizing spending. My fundraising expertise and budgeting experience will contribute to CSISD’s fiscal responsibility.

Physical and mental health—COVID-19 brought our attention to physical and mental health of our community. I will contribute to improve physical and mental health of CSISD with my gardening expertise.

A closer tie with Texas A&M — Texas A&M is right in the heart of our community and home to many wonderful youth programs. I would bring our CSISD community closer with Texas A&M.

Planning for the future — There is no ‘one-size-fit-all’ for the future of our students. We need to prepare them for all possibilities, from filling jobs in local market and competing in the international arena. We have to begin to focus on learning through experiences and opportunities.

Leadership — With my unique background, I work towards common ground.

How do we keep our students, faculty and staff safe in school? (150 words)

I’d like to refer to the experts, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the safety issues. Firearm violence has tremendous impact on the overall safety and wellbeing of Americans. Using a public health approach is essential to addressing firearm violence and keeping people safe and healthy. CDC’s approach to preventing firearm injuries focuses on three elements: providing data to inform action; conducting research and applying science to identify effective solutions; and promoting collaboration across multiple sectors to address the problem. For COVID-19, I would also follow CDC recommendations available https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.

As the district grows, how big do we let our high schools get before planning for a third high school? Should it be the equivalent of the two current high schools or should it, say, be a STEM magnet school? (150 words)

All CSISD citizens will be affected by a 3rd high school. All should be engaged in understanding the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” and “how” associated with it and the decision making process. It is important for CSISD board members to interact with constituents in our district on their needs. We should look at both the short-term and long-term aspects of the process, taking the time to study all aspects of the potential of the 3rd high school and how we can benefit all students in this process.

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