Frequently Asked Questions
The most important function is likely the ability to manage the natural tension that exists between all of the formal functions and demands of a School Trustee. In a world of limited resources and time, the ability to set a clear vision, create policies that align with that vision, hire and support a superintendent, set a budget that supports all of the above, and all the while manage to hear from and represent a community of over 300,000 people requires creative compromise.
If this question were posed to me as a school board member, then I would endeavor to have a conversation with all of the involved parties to better define the words "issue" and "resolved." Some issues, such as access to programs or support systems can be handled through better policies. However, it is my experience that many issues are personal, and resolutions are varied and specific. Policies tend to be rather impersonal and generic, making them insufficient tools when it comes to actually resolving issues. The method of resolution and restoration I prefer is much more time-intensive, but I am willing to spend the time necessary to fully understand the people expressing these concerns and work towards an actual resolution based on the specific situation.
It is almost impossible to have a "most important" issue when you have so much interdependence that must happen for a school district to achieve success. I believe one of the most pressing needs in front of us is supporting teachers in this era of virtual/in-person school, especially our secondary teachers. Some of that support could be financial, which brings attention to our $40m+ budget deficit. Solving the budget does not necessarily support our teachers, but it is easy to see how the two are related. And the entire reason we exist as an organization is the education of children, which is at stake due to both of the above. So students, teachers, and a sustainable budget are the most important issues in this race.
I have spent the last 10 years working with leaders across multiple Central Texas communities, bringing focus to the values and issues that they share rather than the opinions where they differ. This work of creative compromise, where we all move a little closer to the results that we truly want, is experience that will transfer to the role of a School Trustee. I believe that when it comes to the future of our children, we all share much more in common than in opposition. I will work to bring our community together, so that we spend our energy engaging the issues before us, not the people beside us.
I encourage you to visit my website at www.jeff4lisd.com, read my priorities and my decision-making style, and if it aligns with your own, then vote for me and join me in investing in our community through our school district.
My general philosophy regarding curriculum is that small changes should be made year over year, preferably changes that do not require entirely new source textbooks and material. I prefer this for the following reasons:<
- Expense. Purchasing new textbooks is an incredibly expensive proposition for a school district. Although it is recommended every 5-10 years (depending on the subject), if you can find a way to use supplemental information with existing texts, that is a better use of funds in an increasingly tight budget.
- Time/Training. In addition to the financial cost, there is a time cost for teachers to learn a new curriculum, especially if there are significant changes. Such training is required In order to ensure equitable delivery of content across hundreds of individual teachers and classrooms.
Most questions regarding curriculum are not in regards to minor shifts, but generally come in the way of sweeping reforms for either history or health sciences. Math has seen its share of reform texts over the last few years as well. In all cases I would use the above filter in making a decision. If asked “How do I feel about this certain curriculum?” my answer would be, “Until I have read the source material (e.g. textbook) and seen the accompanying training, I cannot give a qualified answer to that question.”
For parents who are truly concerned about or interested in supporting a certain curriculum, the most helpful thing you can do is to provide direct access to the source material in question for the decision-makers.
Many people assume every position that is decided by votes is a part of our two-party political system. The fact is many civic entities have chosen to pursue nonpartisan positions. This is true both in Leander ISD, as well as local elections in Cedar Park and Leander. The races for city council, mayor, and school board are all supposed to be nonpartisan. This means those running do not have to “declare” for one party or another in some sort of primary race. It also means that multiple people with a similar party affiliation can run for the same place/seat.
This is a good practice because, unlike national politics, where you get voted in and then go live in another city or state, we will still be neighbors after election day. The hope is that those voted in to representative positions would authentically represent everyone in the community, not simply people from a certain party affiliation. I can confidently say that people who will vote differently from each other on the top of November’s ballot will both vote for me. That is because educating children, supporting teachers, and building a sustainable budget are not ideas that only benefit part of our community, they benefit us all.