Levelland Chamber of Commerce held their candidate forum for Levelland ISD School board candidates Tuesday night on the campus of South Plains College in Levelland.
Each candidate was asked four questions, two of which they were provided with prior to the forum and one from the Chamber of Commerce board and one from the audience at the forum. They were then asked to provide a closing statement.
Introduce yourself and tell why you would be the best candidate for the Levelland ISD School Board?
DeEtte Edens said she was a graduate of Levelland High School and South Plains College and went on to Nursing School. She taught in LISD for 2 years and now serves as health coordinator for SPC. She also serves on the LISD LIFE Foundation Board, Chamber Young Professionals, member of Rotary and active member of the First Baptist Church. She said “I believe in Levelland schools and feel I am qualified to continue serving as LISD Board Trustee.
Stephen Sanders grew up in Levelland, and is currently an English instructor at SPC. He taught in Levelland ISD at high school for 17 years. He is a graduate of Levelland High, SPC and has a Bachelors from West Texas A&M with a Masters from Texas Tech. He said “I know what it is like to teach a “tested” subject. I have also taught extra curricular courses such as creative writing and have served as the yearbook advisor.”
Scott Dobson has lived in Levelland most of his life and is a graduate of South Plains College. His wife currently teaches in the district and has for 16 years. He has a daughter that has graduated from Levelland High School and currently has a son in the system. He is running for school board to help ensure the continued success of students in Levelland ISD.
Glen Smith is a long time Levelland resident, and a graduate of Levelland High School. He was Employed by Amoco for many years, and attended South Plains College. All 4 of his kids graduated from Levelland High. He has been on LISD School board for a total of 15 years on 2 separate occasions. We have a great school system and current board members work to solve any problems that arise in the district.
Carrie Ellis is a mother of 2 and is passionate about their education. She believes in giving back and is ready to serve on Levelland ISD School Board. She said I believe in Levelland. She is a licensed CPA which she feels will help her in serving on the board and helping manage the limited funds used for operating the district. She said “It is my goal to work with what we have.”
What is the significance of a good school system in the community.
Stephen Sanders said the health of the community depends on a good education and a good school system. A good district draws industry to the community. A business looking to expand in the community looks at the school system and how good it is. “Levelland has a good school system but as in anything it can be better. “We need to emphasize academics and the arts together.” “Those are inherent in a good district which is inherent in a good commumity.”
Scott Dobson said a good school district goes hand in hand with a good community. He went on to say that a community has to be invested in the schools. “Schools must prepare our students to be a part of their community, it goes beyond preparing them for a test.” He added, “At Levelland ISD we prepare students for the next step.”
Glen Smith said if you want the community to grow you must have a healthy educational system. He also noted that Levelland ISD employees over 400 people and is one of the top employers in the City of Levelland. Community members must vote for the people they want on the school board, emphasizing how important it is to vote.
Carrie Ellis described what a good district would look like. She wants Levelland ISD to be great district. She said the school board must provide opportunities to teachers as well as a voice for teachers. More importantly we must provide opportunities for students. She noted there are opportunities for students in Levelland ISD that smaller districts cannot provide. When people outside the district say they want to be a part of that and recognize success of LISD that is a sign of a great district.
DeEtte Edens said a strong system will make businesses want to locate here. She says Levelland ISD is striving to excel and make improvements where needed. She said “We have a strong school system supporting our community and as a school board member you are a voice for the district to help it grow in the community.”
Question 3: (From the Audience)
If you receive a call from a parent with a complaint what will you do?
All members agree that you listen to the complaint and direct them to follow the chain of command and let them know that it is protocol to go to the source of the problem first which many times is the teacher, and if you do not receive satisfaction go to the campus administrator and then to the superintendent and finally to the school board. It was noted by the candidates, that had attended a recent training, that the Texas Association of School Boards actually advises trustees to follow this protocol.
Question 4: (From Chamber of Commerce Member Survey)
Do you think it is too burdensome to require all employees including teachers to live inside the district within a set time frame?
Glen Smith said we have to get certified teachers in the classroom and as long as they are certified and highly qualified, he doesn’t have a problem with it.
Carrie Ellis pointed out that their are likely laws pertaining to this and the district must follow the law. However, she did say she would like to encourage it noting that a someone that lives in the community is vested in the community.
DeEtte Edens said their have been discussions about this topic among board members previously. She said “I would like for everyone to live here and be vested in the community, however, she noted that I feel we have to hire the best candidate for the job regardless of where they live but she always wants Levelland first.”
Stephen Sanders said you have to have a system where teachers are happy to be and where they feel they have a voice, then you can require them to live in the district. He noted that teachers that are not happy with a district will leave.
Scott Dobson said he sees it both ways, noting that his wife taught in the Brownfield School system for four years while living in Levelland, simply because their were no openings in the Levelland school system. He said we must hire the best teachers we can, regardless where they reside.
During the closing statements candidates all emphasized the importance of getting out to vote and making your voice heard.
The forum was hosted by the Levelland Chamber of Commerce and lasted approximately an hour. Bill Powell was the moderator for the forum.