Public school trustees often make some of the most momentous decisions in the life of a community, but often, through no fault of their own, they do so outside the spotlight of public scrutiny.
This doesn’t make the work they do any less important than the work of, say, city council members.
Voters in the Bryan school district face two contested races on the Nov. 3 ballot and, fortunately for them, any of the choices they make would serve the district and its children and families well.
In Bryan, five of the seven trustees are elected from single-member districts and only voters in the district may vote in that race.
Unlike the Bryan City Council, the school district does not have term limits for trustees.
The other two trustees run at-large from anywhere in the district and every district voter may vote for those positions.
The Eagle invited the candidates in the contested Bryan school board races to meet with the Editorial Board via Zoom.
Each meeting lasted approximately 30 minutes.
Today, The Eagle makes its recommendations in the two contested races.
Our recommendations are but one source of information voters should consider when going to the polls. Other sources of information could include news stories, campaign ads and mailings, and discussions with family, friends and coworkers.
Early voting starts today and continues through Oct. 30. Election Day is Nov. 3.
Here are The Eagle’s recommendations, in ballot order:
Trustee Julie Harlin vs. Ebony Peterson — Harlin has served on the board for four years and currently serves as vice president. She says her biggest accomplishment as a trustee is the hiring of Superintendent Christie Whitbeck after months of turmoil with the previous superintendent. “She brings such passion to the position,” Harlin said of Whitbeck.
Harlin also is proud of the district’s career tech center, which serves students from Bryan, as well as students from College Station, Snook and Caldwell.
A lifelong resident of Bryan, Peterson said she is running for the board because members of the community asked her to.
Peterson said Whitbeck is a “wonderful lady.” She also praises Harlin, who, she said, “has done a wonderful job.”
Harlin notes she has completed almost 90 hours of board training, as well as experience as a faculty member at Texas A&M University.
When even the challenger is enthusiastic about the incumbent, there seems to be no reason for voters to make a change on the board.
The Eagle recommends a vote to keep Julie Harlin in Place 2 on the Bryan school board.
Deidra Davis vs. Trustee David Stasny — Stasny has been a Bryan school board member for more than 30 years and, by all accounts, has done a good job. He said, “I haven’t run out of ideas.”
In addition to his three decades on the Bryan board, Stasny served eight years on the advisory committee for the State Association of School Boards. Stasny also serves on the city-school coalition board, which meets monthly. He said he is pleased with the job Whitbeck is doing, saying, “We need to keep her on board.”
Stasny said he is pleased with the Bryan district’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, although he would require masks in school, starting at the kindergarten level. On Sept. 28, the Bryan school district began requiring masks for students in all grades, including pre-kindergarten through second grade, which had been exempt from the requirement prior to that date.
Davis moved to Bryan in 2017, along with numerous members of her church. She likes the “great diversity” of the community. She said the schools, the city, the workforce and the churches should have a plan in place on how to deal with another pandemic, should one come.
Davis praises Stasny and his service on the board, saying she would keep his number in her cellphone if she is elected. “I am so willing to learn from him,” Davis said.
As in the race for Place 2, when the challenger praises the incumbent, there is little need not to reelect him, in this case. Many people believe three decades of service on the school board should be enough, but Stasny shows he still is up for the job and willing and able to serve another three-year term.
If voters think 30 years is enough, Davis offers a fine alternative.
The Eagle makes no recommendation in the race for Place 6 on the Bryan school board.
Whomever the voters pick in the Place 6 race, they will be well-served.
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