Ban The At-Large
Part of ensuring adequate representation and diversity on our school board means changing the way we elect school board trustees from at-large to single-member districts.
I believe Bastrop ISD should change to a single-member district system of voting in order to allow for better representation of communities around the district. Under single member district systems, the school district is divided into a number of geographically defined voting districts, each represented by a single elected official. Voters can only vote for their district’s representative, with the highest vote-getter winning election, even if he or she has received less than half of the vote. With this system there are challenges such as gerrymandering but it gives disadvantaged communities and candidates of color a chance at equal and fair representation.
As a trustee I will propose a 5-2 single-member election system. Under my plan, the district will be broken up into 5 single-member districts in which we will elect 5 school board trustees representing each of those districts, and we will elect 2 at large trustees who represent the entire district. This plan will allow for a more diverse school board and provide equal representation for every student within our district.
I also do not agree with the appointment of school board trustees when a current member resigns or doesn't run for re-election. I believe the people should always have a say in who their representatives will be and they have that say through voting.
Currently our TEA rating is a C (75) in 2022, down from an (B)81 in 2019. Our literacy rate is 28% with a math proficiency rating of 25%.
The number one priority of an educational institution should be academic achievement.
Since 2013 the academic performance of Bastrop ISD has continued to decline due to various factors such as a high economically disadvantaged population and a high number of non-english speaking students. Data shows that from 2010 to 2019 our reading proficiency rate went from 82% in 2010 down to 28%. Our math proficiency has equally plummeted from 83% in 2010 down to 25%.
Many people will say that the current TEA rating system is flawed and unfair. However, I say if that's the standard that we have been given then we must at least strive to meet and exceed that standard until someone comes up with a better rating system and better way of tracking academic performance. It's not just TEA ratings that rate Bastrop ISD as low performing. Almost every rating and review report rates Bastrop ISD as below average. Many reviews from community members also speak poorly about the district and its leadership.
I believe the success of the city and community of Bastrop County starts with Bastrop ISD. As our community grows, when perspective homebuyers look to relocate to Bastrop one of the first factors they look at are the schools especially if they have children. Although we may not agree with the ratings or the factors behind the ratings, those ratings have a huge impact on the growth and success of our community.
As a trustee, I will strive to improve our academic performance, our infrastructure, and our staff to ensure Bastrop ISD returns to a world class educational institution. I will work to restore the integrity and reputation of Bastrop ISD to where it belongs as a world class educational institution.
Support the Teachers
According to data, Bastrop ISD teachers are paid an average of $4,000 less than the state average teacher salary. Our teachers with over 20 plus years of experience are paid an average of $4,000 less than the state average salary of a teacher with 20 plus years of service. Meanwhile our administration staff is paid an average of $5,000 more than the state average administration staff.
Teachers also perform "other duties as assigned" per their contract which leaves some teachers working more hours a day than most with little time for rest, family, or relaxation. We have to get rid of the "other duties as assigned" clause in teacher contracts so teachers can focus solely on teaching while having time for rest, relaxation, and their families.
Nobody knows what's best for the classroom or the students better than the teachers who are on the front lines in the classrooms every day. Our students education is only as good as the teachers who educate them and in order to attract and hire the best teachers we have to pay them and equip them with the best facilities and resources. We have to get our teacher salaries up to par with state averages and create incentives to attract and retain bilingual teachers as well as incentives for all of our teachers. We also have to get our teachers the best classroom resources, equipment, facilities, and training to give our students the best education in the world.
Pay the Workers
Currently Bastrop ISD's prevailing wages are not on standard with the federal Davis Bacon Act. Workers who perform work on Bastrop ISD bond projects or other projects are not being paid what they are worth and required to be paid in line with Davis Bacon Act. We have to raise our prevailing wages up to the standard of the Davis Bacon Act immediately so that we not only are paying workers what they deserve to be paid, but so we attract the best workers and get quality work for our schools and district.
We also have to reevaluate our contracts with Gold Star Transit and Aramark. For years we have not received a level of service from these outsourced contracts that our students, staff, or community deserves. We need to end our outsourced labor and bring these jobs in-house so we hire local workers who care about their schools and their community and so we are able to pay our workers livable wages with benefits.
Protect the Future
The safety and security of all students, staff, and visitors should be a major priority within the district. I believe we should utilize our police department primarily to ensure their safety instead of dealing with mostly student issues.
I believe every campus should have at least two full-time police officers with one officer doing a roving patrol around the outside perimeter and exterior school grounds while the other officer does a roving patrol of the interior ensuring all doors are secure and no unauthorized personnel are inside.
I also believe we need to modernize security protocols and utilize updated technology to help ensure the safety and security of everyone on our campuses, at our athletic events, and other school functions.
Too many things, both good and bad, happen within the district that the community isn't made aware of. Communication builds good relationships and trust within the community. Our parents, staff, and community members need to always be made aware of all things happening within Bastrop ISD especially when it involves or effects our students.
As your school board trustee, I will work to increase communication channels and build trust between the district leadership and our community.