Weatherford Democrat

April 23, 2014

Aledo ISD School Board Place 7 candidates


Weatherford Democrat

— Early voting for the May 10 general election begins April 28. Following is information gathered from the candidates for the Place 7 Aledo ISD trustee race, Hoyt Harris, James Riley Morrison and Debra Rogers. Candidates have been invited to appear in a forum sponsored by the East Parker County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Affairs Committee at 7 p.m. Monday, April 28, in the cafeteria of Trinity Christian Academy.

Hoyt Harris, 42, works in construction for Buzz Custom Fence. He and his wife, Jennifer, have been married almost 17 years. The couple’s son, Rhett, is a freshman at AHS, daughter Michaela is a seventh grader at AMS, and their youngest, Kate, will be in kindergarten at Stuard Elementary next school year. Harris has a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas Wesleyan University. Along with serving on the Aledo ISD Board of Trustees, he is an Aledo Education Foundation Board member and a volunteer coach for Aledo youth baseball, football and basketball organizations. He has served as a board member for the youth football and baseball leagues. Harris is a member of Christ Chapel West, and he is professionally affiliated with the Aledo Business Development Group, East Parker County Chamber of Commerce and Leadership Fort Worth.



Q. What is the school district’s biggest problem and how can you help solve it?

A. For several years the AISD has been very fortunate to have a strong administration, school board, and community working together to prevent the challenges we have encountered from turning into big problems. A strong, cohesive team focused on the students first, while staying on track with the strategic plan that we as a community developed, will help us continue to handle challenges before they turn into big problems.



Q. What makes you the best candidate for school board?

A. The AISD is on the verge of experiencing growth and changes like we have never seen before. My experience as a board member, understanding of school finances, and understanding of our community make me an ideal candidate at this time. Next school year I will have a child in elementary, middle and high school, which will provide excellent opportunites for me to stay informed and communicate with a wide range of parents in our district.



Q. What steps should be taken to make Aledo ISD the best it can be?

 A. To add to the great things that we are already doing, we need to continue to expand our program and curriculum offerings for our students at all grade levels. The STEM program is a good start, but we need to continue to expand the choices our students have to learn. We need to continue to pursue alternative sources of funding to help increase and enhance what we can offer our students. Our success as a school district will be as great as our community wants it to be. The newly established Aledo Education Foundation is a great example of our community taking ownership of our district and making great things happen. I look forward to helping find more ways to involve our community to continue to make our school district the best it can be.

James Riley Morrison, 18, is a member of the Aledo High School Class of 2014 and the former state president of Texas Future Business Leaders of America. He is the son of Glenn and Tami Morrison. Morrison lists the Ride for Heroes as his involvement in the community and Future Business Leaders of America as a professional affiliation.

 

Q. What is the school district’s biggest problem and how can you help solve it?

A. There are a plethora of issues that our district must face in the coming years — population growth and House Bill 5 issues being the most important. Population growth is a serious issue that we face, and it goes hand-in-hand with House Bill 5. HB 5 gives school districts the freedom to create an individual curriculum, specialized for their needs and tailored for our students. However, as the district grows, we are faced with a hard question — what are the new students going to do to Aledo ISD. We cannot possibly know, but we should prepare by investing in courses and programs that will adequately prepare our students for the future.



Q. What makes you the best candidate for school board?

A. As a student, I have the best perspective. Oftentimes, the board may make crucial decisions that affect student and teachers directly. Not being directly involved in day-to-day student life, or having it been 10-20 years since being in a classroom, they may not fully understand the scope of the classroom today.



Q. What steps should be taken to make Aledo ISD the best it can be?

A. First, we need to ensure that Aledo ISD retains quality teachers and paraprofessionals. To keep good teachers and paraprofessionals we must reconsider where the district spends money. Save money by eliminating wasteful spending, and re-invest in our students and teachers.

Debra Rogers, 45, is married to John M. Rogers, and the couple has four children: Clay Rogers, 18, Matt Dupont 18, Kate Rogers, 16, and Tim Dupont, 12. As a blended family Rogers reports that they face many of the challenges that come along with living in different cities than their former spouses, the parents of their children, do. One of those is the challenge of different school districts. Clay and Kate attend Highland Park HS in Dallas. Matt is a junior at Nolan Catholic High School in East Fort Worth, and Tim is a sixth-grade student at McAnally Intermediate in Aledo. John and Debra are members of Aledo United Methodist Church and St. Stephens Catholic Church in Weatherford. Rogers is also a member of the Aledo Lions Club. Rogers attended Keller ISD beginning in the second grade and graduated salutatorian of the Class of 1987. She received her Bachelor’s in Economics from TCU in 1990 and then went on to earn her doctorate from the University of Texas School of Law in 1994. Last May, after an opportunity to return to graduate school on a Prothro Scholarship, she received her Master’s of Theological Studies from SMU. Through this experience, Rogers is pursuing a call to serve as a hospital chaplain in order to support those and their loved ones who are facing serious illness, death and dying on their Christian walk. Rogers is a former Assistant Criminal District Attorney for Tarrant County, serving under the late Tim Curry from 1994 to 2004. From 2004 to 2006, she was Judge of Parker County Court at Law No. 1. From 2007 to the present, she has been working at Rogers LLP in Weatherford, primarily in the areas of real estate and juvenile justice matters.



Q. What is the school district’s biggest problem and how can you help solve it?

A. After talking to administrators, coaches, teachers and community leaders, the biggest problem facing our district is the explosive growth that is predicted to continue over the next 20 years. I moved to Parker County in 2000 after hearing Pastor Ted Kitchens preach so many times about this place called Aledo. You just cannot keep a place like this a secret forever. We are now at a crossroads with the growth that faces us as a community. We can embrace it and use it to our district’s benefit or we can resist it and let it decay our academics through classroom size and the addition of portable classrooms. I am running for school board at this time because I want to be part of the group that is choosing to embrace the growth by implementing plans now so that our teachers and all of our students will benefit by: 1) negotiating the donation of land for future school sites; 2) making solid hiring decisions for future growth; and 3) facilitating more community partnerships like the innovative steps taken by Aledo and Bell Helicopter to properly prepare students to be tomorrow’s work force.



Q. What makes you the best candidate for school board?

A. I am excited about the position our school district is in right now. I’d like to see our National Merit Finalist list double and then triple; our student athletes scouted for and some signing with Division I and II colleges in football, basketball, track, baseball, softball, golf, swimming and every sport we have a kid who is deserving of a chance to be looked at; and our teachers earning 95-100 percent of the regional average. If we are going to be forced to be BIG, I want our kids to benefit from that by gaining excellence in all areas NOT suffering from it through larger class sizes and less individualized attention. I am passionate about our classroom teachers and ALL of our students. I want to see our top 10 succeed, as well as our middle 15 percent. I want our bottom 10 percent to feel like they, too, achieved something important when they march across that stage at graduation. I want our kids to consider the trades as well as the military as honorable choices for their future. And, you bet, I am rooting for our ag program, bands, Orange Crush, Mock Trial & Debate teams and Drama Club, too.



Q. What steps should be taken to make Aledo ISD the best it can be?

A. As a trustee, I will work with my peers to learn about the district’s “rights” with regard to state-sanctioned testing — and specifically STAAR testing. As the parent of a sixth-grade student, I have now endured three years of STAAR tests. Each year I tell my son that he will be fine, and each year he is fine — as I expect the kids and grandkids are of most of those who are reading this paragraph. My pain comes when I see how hard these tests are on my son’s classroom teachers, his principals and his entire campus community during the two or three weeks of state-sanctioned tests. I have taken my share of standardized tests, and I expect that my children will take theirs as well; however, I do not believe that the one-size-fits-all approach to testing at the elementary and secondary-level that we now have in Texas vis-à-vis STAAR is what President George W. Bush had in mind when he passed the “No Child Left Behind Act” in 2001. And I feel just as certain that it must pain the president greatly to think that STAAR may be mistakenly remembered as one of his legacies.