LISD Board Candidate Questionnaire: Shari Chambers

Shari Chambers (Photo by Leopold Knopp)

The Lewisville Texan Journal sent a list of questions to Lewisville ISD school board candidates to familiarize voters with each potential trustee. Each candidate had two weeks to return their answers. Answers from candidates who participated are published as received, unedited.

Early voting for the May election begins April 24 and continues until May 2. Election day is May 6. Voters will decide who will be the city council members, who will serve on the school board of trustees, and whether or not to accept a bond package proposal from LISD.

Here are the responses sent to us from Shari Chambers, who is running for Place 7.

LTJ: How much of your time on average per week are you committed to giving voters for this position?

SC: 40 – 50 hours

LTJ: How have you served the school district prior to filing?

SC: Volunteered at organizing, implementing fund raising events. Coordinating projects, Room Parent for elementary school events. PTA

LTJ: How do you plan to interface with the public if you are elected? To what extent would you let public input affect your decisions as a board member?

SC: I believe the trustees must be responsive and receptive to the public that elects them. I feel a new voice for our community is needed and I am that voice. Trustees are the communities advocates for public education and are responsible for the provision and maintenance of our schools. At this time our school board meetings will not allow 2-way communication. School board trustees need to be accessible to teachers, students, and the community for open dialog. I would definitely listen to the our community input before making any decisions, I do not believe that is happening at this point.

LTJ: What do you want to do as a board member that you could not do as a dedicated resident?

SC: I believe the biggest step was answered with the previous question, right now the every day, general community has no say in what is happening with our schools, with our district. The Board votes every MAy to elect how they want to run their meetings so when they start siting rules and regulations we need to make sure it is not their own rules.

LTJ: Do you think the district is doing enough to provide transparency in decision-making and accountability to the public? What would you change, if anything?

SC: I believe they have a domain website with so much information that even the trustees can not find the information that is in question. The transparency we need is getting our tax supported debt per student, what are we paying off not just refinancing, what are we budgeting for, instead of just waiting to put into the next bond. Transparency is a wonderful word but why are we not part of the “Transparency Stars – Texas Comptroller” like surrounding schools.

LTJ: What is the most pressing issue facing the district? What steps would you take to amend said issue?

SC: Current schools needing repairs, renovations, programs needing refreshed, support, and buildings needing replaced and no current or future plans except for an incredibly far-reaching dramatically expensive bond proposal that the projects listed will undoubtedly end up collapsed. There are two outcomes, if the Bonds is approved I would advocate that the monies are used for academics first and foremost as assigned in the Bond proposal, and reassess the decision of not rebuilding community schools such as Hedrick Elementary before moving forward with any projects such as ballistic entry doors. The second, the Bond is turned down, then we start reassessing from Top to bottom each Campuses, Facility, Program making sure we are investing properly in what works, if it truly isn’t working then we make cuts, I believe in talking to parents and teachers some things are not as successful as the Trustees want us to think. Not everything is a success, I think it’s time that we hear the true, and stop supporting things that do not work. We need to turn this around cut our debt, and stop adding programs before we can pay for what we have.

LTJ: If you could point to any particular policy, project or direction in the district’s past history that you could go back in time and undo, what would it be?

SC: 1:X, I believe Technology is a fantastic thing. I come from a Hardware, Software professional background and feel it is a the future for our children. We have a large district and unless you can plan for the future and know how to budget for the refresh of both the hardware and software refresh every four to five years you are taking on a huge debt that you will never be able to manage. A trustee with a Technology background should be able to guide you and help foresee this before you make a move into this type of commitment.

LTJ: The current board has accepted a decision to not rebuild Hedrick Elementary and approved sending that decision to the voters in the bond election.  Yet LISD has said it will not tell voters where those students will go until later.  Do you think this provides an adequate level of transparency, and do you think, as a board member, you would be willing to reexamine those plans?

SC: I do not believe on any level this is a TRANSPARENCY decision, nor was it one that just happened. This was a decision well thought out and had been planned, and for the school board and administration to handle the situation as it has only shows how really NON-TRANSPARENT they really are. If you think about the number of teachers, staff, students, and support personnel that it takes to run that one elementary school for a day you would not make a decision to tear down that location without having a solid plan so why would you not share that with your community. The family that you say that you are TRANSPARENT with, that you live with, work with, share with. I may have only live in this community for a short time but when I talked with these kids, and the families I see how important Hedrick home is to them. How could anyone not feel that..

LTJ: The voters are poised to grant this district three quarters of a billion in bond money for construction projects and tech purchases in the district.  How do you as a board member ensure accountability for staying true to the district’s needs and maintaining good stewardship of that money?

SC: I plan to make sure that all monies are expensed to the projects they are allocated to during the Bond proposal unless it is clearly brought to a community board meeting and a vote is taken. I believe the community that elects the board of trustees and approves the Bond should have a say if the monies are used for something other than what was presented to them.

LTJ: A recent court case has shone a light on LISD’s duties to protect students against sexual assault, harassment, bullying and retaliation.  Though LISD was not found liable for retaliation, that case has shaken the faith of many in LISD’s ability to take allegations seriously and protect student victims of crime from their assailants.  As a board member, what would you do to ensure that staff react appropriately?  How would you assure parents that their children are safe in Lewisville ISD?

SC: This is clearly an Human Resource issue by Law, and since I am not currently on the school board this may already be the process; However what I would require Principal, Vice-Principal, Nurse, Office staff, on a yearly basis take a short course on “what constitutes sexual assault, harassment, bullying and retaliation” and what to do if someone comes to you with a complaint/allegation.  Make sure that everyone knows the chain of command that the complaint/allegation is reported to so that there is no way that it is not missed or the process is not started immediately, and within the process the Parent(s) contact would always be noted on the report within 24 hours of the first notice of report.