Job descriptionSchool boards are the governing bodies of their school districts. Term is three 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.
ISD contact informationContact Coordinator of Board Operations
juliemoye@misdmail.org
817-797-8933
Philip DeGroatEmail: phil.degroat@hotmail.com
Theresa OkoroEmail: icteokoro@yahoo.com
Yolanda E. McPhersonWebsite: https://www.yolandamcpherson20.com
Facebook: @YolandaMcPhersonForMISD
Twitter: @YolandaForMISD
Email: YolandaMcPhersonForMISD@gmail.com
Phone: 817-592-3076
Desiree “Dez” Thomas (incumbent)Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DesireeDezThomasForSchoolBoard
Email: desireethomasplace2@gmail.com
Phone: 817-692-5181

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Candidate Q&A

1. WHY ARE YOU THE BEST QUALIFIED CANDIDATE?
Philip DeGroat
Theresa Okoro
My advanced and vast educational background in Leadership, Community Healthcare, Computer Information Systems, and Accounting.
Leading by example as a mother of 6 children that have positive stories to tell about public school.
Yolanda E McPherson
I’m the best qualified candidate due to several qualifications I’ve acquired over my 32 year teaching tenor. These qualifications are inclusive of my experience being a TEAM leader at both schools I’ve taught at in AISD. In addition, I’m ESL certified and have held seats on several committees including; the Site Based Decision Making Committee, the Discipline Committee, and the Grade Placement Committee. I’m also a student/ teacher mentor as well as a long time former member of UEA, and currently a member of the Texas Retired Teachers Association. Outside of my teaching profession, I served as Recording Secretary and Executive Board Member for the Southern Baptist of Texas State Convention, which also gave me invaluable knowledge and experience via this large state organization on multiple levels. With my sincere passion for education, paired with my qualifications I’m the best qualified candidate. Due to my actual education/ teaching experience, I have obtained direct incite to what’s needed to maintain and continuously progress a healthy, stable and productive learning and working environment, for students, faculty and parents.
Desiree “Dez” Thomas
I have been a PTA volunteer for 20 years, and 14 of those have been with the MISD Council of PTAs. I have had the opportunity to help many of our local PTAs and Booster Clubs across our district with their budget planning and filing financial documents for the IRS and State Comptroller’s office. I know this is on a much smaller scale, but it has helped in my understanding of the large MISD budget and the importance of keeping it balanced. I was also a substitute teacher for Mansfield ISD for 3 years, which helped me to gain knowledge of classroom management and academic success. I have worked in the Maintenance Office, Payroll Office, Bond Office, and also helped with the iPad distribution from the very first distribution. In addition to these hands-on experiences, I also lean heavily on my internal abilities to view issues through a multi-perspective lens to make informed and insightful decisions. I am patient and persistent, and I strive to complete every task with the utmost integrity for success. I believe all of these experiences and qualities have given me a realistic view of what our teachers’ and students’ greatest needs are when making decisions for Mansfield ISD.
2. WHAT ARE THE CURRENT NEEDS OF YOUR DISTRICT AND WHAT ARE YOUR PRIORITIES FOR ADDRESSING THEM?
Philip DeGroat
Theresa Okoro
Effect of COVID on learning for our children. The “drop” in grades due to the pandemic. Hiring more highly qualified effective teachers.
Balancing the budget and finances, because it takes a lot of money to run and maintain a good school district.
Safety, bullying, and inclusiveness of all, no matter their race, religion, or sexual orientation.
Yolanda E McPherson
Current needs of MISD begin with the need to ensure that all schools provide a safe learning environment as we return to in person learning. Helping parents with the decision to allow their children to participate in person or virtually. As well as the psychological impact of COVID-19 on education, social life and the mental health of students and teachers. In the manner of addressing these needs, I’m advocating to continue working closely with Tarrant County Public Heath, the COVID-19 MISD Advisory Task Force, and the community at large. Also advocating for mental health resources to be made available to families, students and staff. Pushing for the resources that are already in place such as; Emotion Wellness Resources, School Supply Services, Food Service Resources, etc. to be shared via multiple sources of community communication, keeping families consistently informed about all resources available.
Desiree “Dez” Thomas
1. Learning Gaps: MISD will be facing major learning gaps in education brought on by the Covid pandemic. The challenge will be pinpointing exactly where the gaps are and then finding the most effective and creative way to address them.
2. Technology: I believe technology will be a constant challenge for our district in making sure we have the most current and updated equipment. As a school board we need to make sure we always have funds available to keep our equipment in good working order; so our teachers can continue to teach effectively. We also need to be aware of the broadband Internet challenges we are now facing with so many of our students learning virtually. We need to make sure funds are available to continue to support our students who do not have internet by providing the hot spots, keeping up with equipment maintenance, and to repairing or replacing Chrome books or iPads that are issued to our students.
3. Funding: I believe funding will be a concern moving forward. House Bill 3 had many mandates from the state but did not offer enough funding. We had a loss of about 1% in enrollment due to Covid, and this low enrollment will have a major impact on our funding going forward. We are hopeful to gain these students back in the fall as the risk of exposure decreases with continued implementation of safety protocols and increased vaccinations. We need to start looking at innovative ways for additional funding, possibly from our community partners or from added programs to entice students to return. We have been fortunate this year with the CARES act and other government funded programs but we will need to take a really good look at our budget for the 2021-2022 school year.
3. WHAT POLICIES SHOULD YOUR DISTRICT PURSUE WITH REGARD TO SCHOOL SAFETY?
Philip DeGroat
Theresa Okoro
Strict anti-discriminatory policies to ensure the safety of all individuals in our school district.
Stiff reprimand or consequences for bullying.
School safety education for students and staff.
Yolanda E McPherson
MISD currently has safety protocols in place, which resemble government safety policies and protocols. Such protocols should continue to align with government policies, as well as the advise of tenured health care professionals. Current protocols in place include COVID-19 campus staff training focused on social distancing practices, hygiene and mitigation practices. Safety screenings of staff and students before coming to work and school. Cleaning and Safety precautions, which include training of our custodial employees and limiting visitors on campus to ensure the utmost safety for our staff and students.
Desiree “Dez” Thomas
We have some great policies regarding school safety for the Mansfield ISD. We have MISD police officers on every one of our campuses and I will advocate for this to continue. We have keyless entry on all our campuses and facilities, which removed the temptation for leaving doors propped open. We conduct safety audits every year for all our campuses, which is much more frequent than the State’s requirement of every 3 years. I have had the opportunity to help conduct these audits for 8 years, because the safety of our District is very important to me. We have also implemented programs like Social Emotional Learning, Restorative Practices and Hope Squads at our campuses. These programs are designed to help in the prevention of suicide and reduce bullying in our schools. These are just a few of the things we are doing to help keep our students and staff safe.
4. HOW SHOULD TECHNOLOGY AND VIRTUAL LEARNING BE UTILIZED POST-PANDEMIC? WHAT LESSONS DID WE LEARN FROM THE 2020-2021 SCHOOL YEAR THAT CAN BE APPLIED TO IMPROVE THE EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM?
Philip DeGroat
Theresa Okoro
Our school district and other school districts did the best they could with the pandemic. In my opinion. Virtual learning was not an ideal method for the students or the teachers, but it was the next best option. The health and wellness of the students and teachers/workers are of utmost importance and I would want to put their lives in jeopardy.
Yolanda E McPherson
Technology is more than likely our new norm, as we reimagine school, I believe that technology can be used to enhance learning for all students. This can be especially beneficial for students with special needs and extenuating circumstances, as a way for them to stay connected with teachers, and learning tools outside of the classroom. During the 2020-2021 year, we learned that face to face learning is essential, to keep our students on track and motivated to accelerate. Working together is essential not only for our school district but as a community whole. Teachers have extended themselves to be more creative, flexible and adaptive to maintain effective learning for students.
Desiree “Dez” Thomas
We need to continue being innovative with our technology. We need to make sure we are using the most current learning management programs and applications in the classroom to engage and challenge our students. In order to have our student’s life, career or college ready, our students need to be able to navigate programs like Canvas, Google searches and Google Drive applications. Since we have realized this year virtual learning is not the best way a student learns, we want to get our students back in the classroom with their teacher. If the state makes virtual learning a continued option, I will be advocating for our school district to have strict attendance and participation criteria for this type of a remote educational program. Many of our students have fallen behind this past year, and it is our job to continue to work on closing the learning gaps in the most efficient way .
5. WHAT IMPACTS HAS THE PANDEMIC HAD ON STUDENTS, AND WHAT MEASURES SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED TO OFFSET THOSE IMPACTS?
Philip DeGroat
Theresa Okoro
The pandemic has had numerous negative effects on many areas of students' life. Health-wise, most students suffer social isolation, anxiety, and other health conditions.
With the pandemic and virtual learning, most teachers and parents have noticed a decline in the academic progress of their students.
As things get better and schools open up in full swing, I would like to see a period of recovery to get all students up to speed in order to catch up.
Students that are struggling should be given extra help and assistance as needed.
Yolanda E McPherson
The pandemic has impacted students in a multitude of ways beginning with intense feelings of isolation, the inability to make connections and socialize, educational gaps due to the lack of one on one teacher support, and technological issues which causes frustration leading to inactivity during classes and difficulty completing assignments. These impacts have led many of our students to experience depression and anxiety, which leads to non productivity and an even greater educational gap. As parents, teachers and staff work towards building long lasting relationships with students, establishing a safe and supportive learning environment, certain measures such as sincere in-depth individual student checks and g rade level cooperation providing extra support for students whose learning has been interrupted also need to be implemented.
Desiree “Dez” Thomas
I believe the biggest impact to our students has been mentally. When the pandemic hit it forced our students and teachers into social isolation. This type of learning environment is just not healthy for either the students or teachers. Public school was not designed to be implemented online. Students need the connection from peer interaction, and face to face teacher support for them to thrive in most successful learning environment. The pandemic took this away from them and the mental suffering was large. As a school district we need to make sure we have the resources and support systems in place to help our teachers and students recover from the impact of this past year. We have some great programs in MISD like Social Emotional Learning and the Hope Squad, and as a Board Trustee I need to make sure these programs continue. The learning gaps caused by Covid are already obvious, and we are already planning for ways to combat these gaps next year and to start closing them as soon as possible. We have discussed more options for summer school support along with additional tutoring through out the year.
6. THE 2020-2021 SCHOOL YEAR HAS BEEN UNIQUE FOR TEACHERS AS WELL AS STUDENTS. WHAT IMPACTS HAS THIS HAD ON TEACHERS AND WHAT MEASURES SHOULD BE IMPLEMENTED TO ADDRESS THEM?
Philip DeGroat
Theresa Okoro
The effect of COVID on learning for our children leads to educational struggles and the “drop” in grades. The frequent quarantine order for in-class students was and is still a distraction for the teachers and students.
Continuing appropriate social distancing and hand hygiene should be encouraged, to limit the spreading of diseases & viruses in the school.
It also affected the district's budget and finances, because the district had to provide iPads to accommodate all students doing virtual learning. Accommodating the needs of all students can be tasking, but very important with the pandemic.
Again, appropriating an adequate amount of resources to areas that need immediate or more help. Hiring more teachers, to address overcrowding and ease up some teachers' load.
Yolanda E McPherson
Educators have also greatly been impacted by the pandemic, experiencing similar emotions as their students. Concerns of their health and safety of their families, feelings of being overwhelmed by new trainings and new teaching methods, the stress of balancing in-person and virtual learning, the challenges of keeping students engaged and the overall struggle of adapting to the new norm. Understanding the value of teachers time, is the first measure we as a community and school district can take to address these issues. Secondly, shortening staff meetings allowing teachers time to rejuvenate, as some information can be sent via email. Third, conducting regular teacher wellness checks, inclusive of administrators assisting teachers, paired with empathetic leadership.
Desiree “Dez” Thomas
I feel this year has been very frustrating for our teachers. They were asked to change the entire way they have been doing their job and to adjust in a 2-week time frame. Mansfield ISD teachers did it because they care deeply about the well being of their students. Then we asked many to change the format of their instructional delivery, mainly in the elementary schools, and they did this too. Our teachers are tired! We need consistency going into next year with clear and timely communication of what will be expected. We have learning gaps to address and we need to make sure we are listening to our teachers and providing them the resources and support needed to tackle this challenge. The support and resources might look different from each campus; we need to be aware of this and make sure we are providing the right support and the most beneficial resources specific to that campus.
7. WHAT ARE YOUR SPECIFIC BUDGET PRIORITIES AND HOW WILL YOU BALANCE COMPETING BUDGETARY INTERESTS?
Philip DeGroat
Theresa Okoro
Balancing the budget is very important and moving the money where it is most needed, like hiring more teachers to avoid over-crowding and increasing teachers' salaries.
Looking for ways to get more money from the State, and even seeking donations from philanthropists.
Yolanda E McPherson
Specific budget priorities include; increasing teachers salaries/ bigger raises, increasing monthly contributions to the costs of healthcare for our MISD faculty, increasing the budget to continue to ensure the highest level of safety precautions necessary due to COVID-19, also providing the needed instructional resources and media to our students and staff, in order to close the educational gap and improve the effectiveness of the “new norm” of learning. The balance of competing budgetary interests will be adjusted based on the new prioritization of needs in MISD. The MISD School Board has previously approved the budget for 2020-2021 school year, so the new budget will need to be based off of the new priorities of the school district.
Desiree “Dez” Thomas
We do need to take a very close look at our budget. We lost students during the pandemic and we need to focus on getting them back. We do still have the Golden Penny option provided by Covid relief for the 2021-2022 school year, so we have time to re-evaluate some of the things we do. Our transparency in our accounting department has been outstanding, and Mansfield ISD has been recognized for these efforts the last several years. We need to continue to be diligent in how we handle the refinancing of our bonds. Our refinancing has saved our district millions of dollars, and we need to continue these creative approaches. Several bills have been presented this legislative session, and some of them will provide additional funding for just a short period. We are paying very close attention to what bills are on the floor and how they will impact our district, in order to be prepared moving into the next school year.
8. HOW SHOULD THE BOARD ADDRESS DISPARITIES IN ACCESS TO EDUCATION, TECHNOLOGY, AND RESOURCES FOR DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS AND PARTICULARLY STUDENTS OF COLOR?
Philip DeGroat
Theresa Okoro
Identification and proper assessment of at-risk student
Safety, bullying, and inclusiveness of all “people”.
Yolanda E McPherson
The district has recently hired a Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The MISD school district participated in an audit conducted by the Texas Association of School Administrators and Curriculum Management Solutions Inc. The findings of the audit concluded that MISD has inequities in academic achievement, equity and access, culture, climate and curriculum. Based on the audit, an advisory counsel comprised of students, staff, businesses and organization members was formed to provide guidance, feedback and support to the MISD Board of Trustees. Also having a diversity of perspectives will guide intentional conversation and actions.
Desiree “Dez” Thomas
We voted to do a Diversity, Equality, and Inclusion audit of our District. The process began about a year ago and the results of the survey were presented at our February board meeting. The purpose of the audit was to help pinpoint deficiencies within Mansfield ISD. We can then take the results and break them down from campus to campus. This will help Mansfield ISD find the right resources and funding to help support our students in the best possible way. For example, one campus we might find a mentoring program would best help student success, but on another campus it might be more helpful to extend tutoring. The audit will help us narrow down where the disparities are and guide us on how to correct them.
9. ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO ADD?
Philip DeGroat
Theresa Okoro
I understand that school board members have a lot of responsibilities and require them to be in the school, the communities, or in meetings often. I have plenty of time to dedicate to this work.
As a Registered Nurse, my schedule is very flexible and I can make my own schedule. I work part-time, only 2 days a week. I am grateful to God and my family that is able to only work 1-2 days a week. I already use my free time to volunteer at my church and the local food banks.
Yolanda E McPherson
Throughout my professional experience and personal life, I’ve served on multiple decision making committees that have had a direct impact on the lives of students, parents and the community. I’m certainly not a stranger to policies and procedures. I’m focused on quality, equitable education for all students of MISD. The conversations at the table must be inclusive of all voices that are represented in Mansfield. I’m asking for your vote during early voting April 19th- 27th or Election Day, May 1st. Yolanda McPherson for Place 2, I’m ready and willing to have those intentional, transparent conversations and take action!
Desiree “Dez” Thomas
I would like another opportunity to serve the Mansfield ISD as a Board Trustee for another 3 years. I just finished my first term, and I have just started working on the legislative side of things. You have to build relationships and this takes time. I would like another term to continue building these relationships and advocating on behalf of what is best for the teachers and students of MISD at the Legislative level. I have been endorsed by the Arlington Board of Realtors and have served on countless committees for MISD for the last 20 years that have opened my eyes to a multiple perspectives in our district. Committees like Student Health Advisory Committee, Strategic Planning Committee, Safety and Security Committee, Planning and Zoning Committee, Facilities and Growth Planning Committee, and the Bond Committee, have given me hands on experience and education to make better decisions for the good of the schools. My being a member of the Education Foundation for many years, Legislative Advisory Council for the North Texas Area Association of School Boards, and the Texas Association of School Boards Delegate the last 2 years has broadened my understanding of best practices to implement in our district. I have been dedicated to Mansfield ISD for the past 20 years, and I have made volunteering for this district my full-time job. I hope I can count on your vote on May 1, Place 2, Desiree "Dez" Thomas.