ASK ME ABOUT MY PRIORITIES
Q: Do you want to cut the budget?
A: Yes, we have to cut the budget. But you can’t talk about budget cuts without talking about our facilities. And when we’re talking about facilities, it would be good to have an architect at the table. The budget is the most pressing challenge facing our district. It affects long term educational policy, curriculum, facilities, teachers, and kids. But I don’t want to cut it by eliminating key programs, firing teachers, or increasing class sizes. I want to save money by making sound investments in buildings that cost less to maintain and operate. Every dollar that we don't spend on maintaining and operating our buildings is a dollar that we can invest in what we want to protect the most...the quality of our teachers and the academic excellence for our children.
the best way to learn about a candidate is to ask a lot of questions!
Q: What is your approach to managing the budget?
A: Teacher salaries are the largest expense in the annual budget. The second largest expense is maintenance and upkeep of our facilities. Investing wisely in our buildings so that they will be less costly to operate and maintain will free up money for recruiting and retaining our quality teaching staff. Because of the way our school finance is structured Eanes cannot thrive on general fund dollars alone as more than half of each tax dollar goes to other districts. Raising taxes is an inefficient way to raise revenues. Laying off teachers or eliminating extra-curricular programs to reduce expenses work against the goal of maintaining excellence in education. Bonds are a way to give us local control of local dollars, as we keep the money here in our district. That means bonds are critical to resolving our budget challenges. They allow us to improve our longest-lived assets, our buildings, such that they cost less to maintain, are more responsive to the needs of the teachers and students, are flexible to accommodate changes in technology and teaching methodologies, and provide opportunities for increasing revenue by leasing them out. We can use bonds to improve our facilities throughout the district, reducing costs, increasing revenues, and improving the educational experience for students and teachers within. The best news is that those investments will last long into the future, protecting our property values. That means bonds are a way to respect the taxpayers, as they will continue to gain from the investment even after our kids have graduated.
Q: Why is your architecture background relevant for a position that is mostly about the budget?
A: Our facilities are the second largest expense in the annual budget, are our longest-lived assets, affect many other priorities such as class size and teacher satisfaction, and represent some of the most contentious issues that voters confront. As a licensed architect, I can offer useful insights and inform the dialogue regarding how we can more wisely invest in our district's biggest assets...our buildings. At a time when most of our structures are over capacity and in need of renovation, expansion and/or replacement, my architectural perspective at the Trustee table can be useful in identifying strategies for making these capital improvements fiscally responsible, forward thinking, sustainable, and flexible while enriching the property values and businesses of district residents.
Q: Why focus on the buildings and campus plans?
A: Because principals, teachers, students and parents have identified the buildings as a logical first place to start for saving money, reducing class sizes, responding to new curricular demands, accommodating modern teaching methodologies, and integrating technologies. Creating better buildings will reduce expenses while freeing our teachers to teach and our students to learn. To ignore these requests or refuse their validity would be disrespectful to the very teachers and staff that we all want to support and protect.
Q: Why did you support the last two bond initiatives?
A: I supported the last two bond initiatives because in my personal and professional opinion they represented the best opportunity to meet multiple community-wide goals of saving money in the long term, protecting our educational excellence, maintaining high property values, and responding to the needs expressed by the teachers. It is important to recognize that by supporting the bonds we are recognizing and respecting the needs that have been identified by principals, teachers, Trustees, students, parents, and community members. Because of the recapture of our tax dollars that contribute to our General Fund, I support school bonds as a method for saving money and keeping local control of our invested dollars.
Q: What about academic excellence?
A: Protecting our legacy of academic excellence is a motivating priority for me. I will seek to maintain program stability and will be an advocate in turning "STEM" (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) into "STEAM" (Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics) while continuing my support of fine arts, athletics, extra-curricular groups, and all enriching curriculum.
Q: Why do you care so much about the non-academic aspects of EISD?
A: Because I’m a product of those activities. I was active in theater, choir and band all the way through college, and those non-classroom experiences were very educational and provided opportunities to learn other skills such as leadership, collaboration and communication. I see athletics, fine arts, and extra-curricular activities as key ingredients in a well-rounded educational experience. That viewpoint is consistent with the district’s mission statement.
Q: What about class sizes?
A: I first became actively engaged with district issues in response to my concern about class sizes. Reducing class sizes remains one of my biggest priorities. Doing so requires investments because our current facilities don’t have the square footage or configuration to accommodate additional classes because many of our buildings are already beyond capacity.
Q: What about your connection with the schools and your volunteer experience?
A: I became actively involved as a classroom volunteer in 2006 when I first moved into the district with my three children who are currently in 3rd grade, 7th grade and 10th grade. In 2011 I initiated a series of district-wide community dialogues to seek input from residents with and without children in our schools to define community priorities. I was extensively involved in the EISD Master Plan Initiative through its entire process, serving on the Outreach Committee and as a parent participant 2013-2014. From 2012 to 2015 I have served as President-Elect, President, and Past-President of Eanes Elementary PTO. I regularly attend booster meetings and band parent meetings at the three campuses where my children attend school and am currently involved as the chair of two events planned for the HCMS and WHS campuses. My extensive involvement puts me directly in contact with staff, teachers, parents and students throughout the district. As Trustee, I will continue to be involved on the campuses and in the classrooms.
Q: What are your roots in the district?
A: My husband grew up in Westlake Hills, and attended Eanes Elementary, Cedar Creek Elementary, Hill Country Middle School, and Westlake High School. We moved to the district in 2006 because of the great schools. We want to help continue that legacy of academic excellence.
Q: What kind of architecture do you practice?
A: I am a sole-practioner and specialize in residential renovations and new construction. I manage the project from the conceptual design through construction, providing my clients with creative problem solving that maximizes function and scope while minimizing short-term and long-term costs. The skill sets that I apply in my professional practice will lend themselves to making me an effective Trustee. At a time when we must search for every possible way to increase revenue and decrease spending, my listening and communication skills, my creative thinking and my experience with the language and process of design and construction will advance the district's efforts to find solutions to our budget challenges.
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