Azle ISD School Board

Job descriptionSchool boards are the governing bodies of their school districts. Remaining term is two years.
DutiesSets district goals and priorities
Adopts and reviews district policies
Publish annual educational performance report
Hires and evaluates district superintendent
Adopts district budget and monitors district finances
Approves tax rate
Annual salaryUnpaid; reimbursed for official expenses.
MeetingsMonthly board meetings; special meetings called as needed.

PLACE 5

Who’s Running?

Sam MerckFB: https://www.facebook.com/sammerckaisdplace5/
Email: smerck@airmail.net

PLACE 6

Who’s Running?

Bill LaneEmail: attorney.billlane@gmail.com

PLACE 7

Who’s Running?

Jeff EdwardsFB: https://www.facebook.com/JeffEdwardsAzleISDPlace7/
Email: jeffaisdplace7@aol.com
Tom Kisnerhttp://kisner4azle.com
FB: https://www.facebook.com/kisner4azle/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kisner/
Email: kisner@live.com

Candidate Q&A

1. WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FEW PRIORITIES IF ELECTED?
Jeff Edwards
My number one priority if re-elected is School Safety. As a 25 year veteran of the Fort Worth Fire Department, I see firsthand the importance of school safety.
Tom Kisner
First, growth continues to be a pressing issue. Particularly, Liberty and Eagle Heights Elementary Schools face overcrowding and aging facilities.
If elected I will propose modifications to board policy to:
1. Post the entire board meeting packet, not just the agenda to the district website
2. Stream and post audio/video recordings of the School Board Meetings
Azle ISD is not yet large enough to be required under Texas Law to post recordings of board meetings, however, I believe it would be great boost to transparency and give access to teachers and citizens to what is going on with the board.
2. WHY ARE YOU THE BEST QUALIFIED CANDIDATE?
Jeff Edwards
I have served on the board for 12 years, and in the safety field for 25 years. I feel like I have a real understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a trustee and how I can address our needs. We have taken the district a long way in my 12 years, but I feel there is much more to be done and always room for improvement in an ever changing world.
Tom Kisner
I graduated with an Associate’s degree from Tarrant County Junior College in 1996 and later went on to earn a Bachelor’s in Business from the University of North Texas and a Master of Business Administration from Texas A&M University-Commerce. I currently work at BNSF Railway in the Information Technology Department.
My formal education in business enables me to understand finance and accounting related to the complex school finance and budgeting - two of the main responsibilities of the school board is to approve the budget and set the tax rate. Additionally, my career in Information Technology gives me unique perspective and insight into current school system technology initiatives.
3. PROPERTY TAXES ARE THE LARGEST SOURCE OF FUNDING FOR LOCAL SERVICES. THE STATE LEGISLATURE MAY LIMIT PROPERTY TAX REVENUE GROWTH AT 2.5 PERCENT PER YEAR. IF THIS BECOMES LAW, HOW SHOULD THE BOARD ADDRESS THIS?
Jeff Edwards
I’m really pleased that the legislature is finally giving us some much needed property tax relief. I was recently in Austin discussing this issue with my representative and I feel it won’t have a negative impact on schools. School funding is extremely complex, and while property taxes are part of the model, I don’t anticipate the lower property cap will impact school funding.
Tom Kisner
While we collect local property tax for a large percentage of our funding, School Finance works very differently from cities - you are only allowed to keep so much per student, and the state bridges the gap to the funding "target". So, this likely impacts schools very little. Additionally, Azle ISD is a Chapter 41 "rich" district, and would probably not get to keep much additional revenue from property tax revenue growth anyway- we would just contribute less to Robin Hood.
4. HOW EFFECTIVE ARE STATE OF TEXAS ASSESSMENTS OF ACADEMIC READINESS (STARR) TEST RESULTS IN ASSESSING STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT AND THE QUALITY OF SCHOOLS IN YOUR DISTRICT?
Jeff Edwards
In Azle, the STAAR test is only one of the ways we measure student achievement. Yes we use the STAAR results to judge ourselves against the state average, but we have many other ways to determine whether our students are succeeding or not. The STAAR test isn’t perfect, but it’s only one of the tools we use.
Tom Kisner
The effectiveness of the STAAR test in general is a matter of debate Statewide, with evidence pointing to the reading assessment being two grades harder than it should be. People love school ratings, but they hate the standardized tests that largely produce those ratings. When I was in high school, I had to take the TAAS test to graduate - and at the time a major issue was social promotion and the high number of high school graduates that were *illiterate*.
I applaud the efforts to that have reduced the number of tests they have to take, it was too many. However, we need some type of useful assessment tool that is of value to parents and teachers alike. That may not the STAAR, but it needs to be something.
5. EDUCATION RESEARCHERS REPORT THAT CHILDREN OF COLOR ARE DISCIPLINED MORE OFTEN THAN THEIR WHITE COUNTERPARTS. HOW SHOULD YOUR DISTRICT ADDRESS THIS CONCERN WHEN SETTING CLASSROOM DISCIPLINE POLICIES?
Jeff Edwards
I feel our administration does a great job at communicating our discipline policies, and punishments seem to be fair across the board. On an annual basis we as a board review our results looking for anomalies that need to be corrected. Going forward I plan to continue to work to make sure all of our kids are treated fairly.
Tom Kisner
Discipline policies should be uniform regardless of race or ethnicity. I would need to see evidence that this is a valid concern in Azle ISD before I would recommend changing anything to address it.
6. IN RESPONSE TO MASS SHOOTING EVENTS ON SCHOOL CAMPUSES, WHAT POLICIES SHOULD YOUR DISTRICT PURSUE WITH REGARD TO SCHOOL SAFETY, AND WHAT ADDITIONAL RESOURCES, IF ANY, ARE NEEDED?
Jeff Edwards
We have created a committee in Azle that includes the Police Dept., Fire Dept., Administration, teachers, and a board member (Myself). This committee reviews incidents, plans training, and considers new security measures. This is my #1 priority going forward as the safety and security of our staff and kids is my biggest concern.
Tom Kisner
I believe security remains a top concern for many. There have been improvements in the last few years, but I still believe we need to take a continuous look at how we can make sure everyone feels safe and secure.
7. WHERE DO YOU STAND ON THE ISSUE OF PRIVATIZING NUTRITION SERVICES IN THE DISTRICT?
Jeff Edwards
We privatized nutrition services in Azle several years ago and it has been a great decision. In the future I would like to expand our services even more, but I am pleased with our current summer meal program, breakfast, and lunch program.
Tom Kisner
I don't support it, and I don't believe there would be compelling business case for it in Azle ISD.
8. HOW SHOULD THE CHARTER SCHOOL MOVEMENT BE MANAGED WITHIN THE DISTRICT?
Jeff Edwards
I think in a lot of cases public schools are concerned about charter schools because of competition. In Azle, we are leaders in education; we push our staff and students to be frontrunners in everything they do. I expect the board and myself to do the same, and if we are doing our job, we don’t need to worry about competition.
Tom Kisner
This has yet to be an issue in Azle ISD.
9. ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO ADD?
Jeff Edwards
I have really enjoyed my time on the board and have loved contributing to the great strides we have made here over the past 12 years. We have an I-pad in every students hand K-12. We have a world class cte center that offers classes such as Industrial refrigeration and drone pilot training. We have young men and women entering the workforce right out of high school with real world skills they can use. We are succeeding in the classroom, in extracurricular, and in life after high school.
I am looking forward to continuing the path we are headed down. We pride ourselves in Azle for the level of education we are providing, and I am excited about the opportunity to take our District to the next level in all aspects.
Tom Kisner
Thank you for taking the time to read this.