Pearland ISD has three Trustee positions up for re-election on May 7. Rebecca Decker, who sits in Position 5, is running unopposed as is Lance Botkin, who holds Position 6. Pam Boegler is giving up her seat in Position 7, and hopefuls Jeffrey Barry and Kelvin Williams are both running to take her place.
We sent questionnaires to Barry and Williams. As of press time, Williams had not responded. Barry’s responses are outlined below.
Q1: Why did you decide to run for the Board of Trustees?
I want to continue to give all of PISD’s students the best opportunity to excel, either in academics or trades, so that they can start their lives being given every opportunity to be higher than average wage earners wherever they go.
Q2: What is your campaign platform’s most important issue?
We really have three issues that I like to include together: Academic excellence, teacher retention and fiscal responsibility. I believe that all three of these issues share the number one position in my campaign.
Q3: There have been issues that have historically come up during election time. What are your ideas about overcrowding and what are some realistic ideas to deal with it?
Overcrowding is an issue that all growing communities face over time. The District constantly checks zoning areas to make sure that the population of students aren’t concentrated in certain school areas and if there are then they are forced to rezone certain areas. Once those options are exhausted, we must consider expansion of schools and/or new construction.
Q3-1: Financials: A solution to overcrowding is to build new schools, but with the current budget, that can’t happen. What are your ideas for the future?
Without impacting the budget the best thing that we can do is to manage each school’s demographics (number of students within a certain area that attend a particular school) to make sure that our “school zones” are aligned with the student/school count. If these numbers are aligned then, in many cases, new schools are our only option.
Q3-2: Transparency: Do you think there needs to be an improvement here? If so, how would you go about making the Board of Trustees/PISD more transparent?
I think that with all of the Trustee meetings being streamed on TV, saved to the District website and having the agenda posted in advance, allowing anyone to review and choose to make open comments in advance of the meetings is sufficient, but I am open to suggestions in this area.
Q3-3: Technology: some students (and even teachers) can’t afford to buy tablets/laptops. The district doesn’t have the latest classroom technology in every classroom. Do you think this is a problem and if so, what are your ideas about moving toward a solution?
Being that we are in a “technology-driven” world these days, I believe that this needs to be addressed sooner than later. In some cases, the district is using old technology in the classroom. Technology changes faster than every 18 months these days, and if we want our students to be the cream of the crop, we need to figure out how we are going to get them the latest and greatest technology in the classroom. I do know, coming from a technology background, that technology isn’t cheap. I would approach as many technology companies for grants and, potentially, have someone on staff that is focused on technology full time. Since the budget is relatively fixed, I believe that partnering with outside companies is the solution. The PISD Foundation and the NBCEA may be a short-term viable solution, but for the long term and on a continuous basis, we need to partner with companies like Cisco, HP, Dell, etc. to alleviate a portion of this burden.
Q3-4: Staffing issues: what are your ideas about attracting and keeping quality teachers and staff?
I understand that we live in an area that is very competitive from a teaching perspective. With Alvin ISD growing at a fast rate along with other prominent districts in the area the pool of outstanding teachers is shrinking. Always trying to pay our teachers the most money isn’t the solution. I would think that if we create an atmosphere of being the “best place to work” as far as local area ISDs go, then we will be able to attract and retain the best of the best. Administrative support and oversight is the key to success.
Q4: What in your career history and experience makes you uniquely qualified to serve as a Trustee? What will you bring to the table and what gap will it fill (if any)?
My career spans from technology to insurance, but my most important qualification is being a business owner. I have owned my own business for 12 years and employ five people, so I understand the challenges of managing a budget and making payroll. As a small business owner, I understand the value of a dollar and will take this characteristic onto the Board if elected.
Q5: Do you have any children that attend PISD schools? If so, what are their ages/grades?
I do not; however, that fact gives me a unique advantage due to fact that I can take different approach to issues that come up in the district. I can be completely objective, and my aim is for every student to have the same advantages as all the rest. Because we don’t have children in the district, my wife, Charisse, and I have put a lot of energy into helping the kids that are here.
Q6: One of the major social problems in all school districts is bullying, both in person and cyber bullying. What ideas do you have to cut down the incidences of bullying and what punishments do you believe need to be handed down to children who break the bullying rules?
Bullying is a challenging situation for the district and parents. Our best defense against bullying is awareness for teachers, administrators and parents. Keeping the parents in the loop and “partnering” with parents will be the first step to a successful resolution. Training for the district counselors and parents will help to identify that bullying is going on and allow them to work together to come to a solution. As far as punishment, we already have rules for punishment within the district, such as detention, the PACE Center and the court system, and the level of punishment must be reflective of the severity of the incident or incidents.
Q7: Feel free to mention anything about your family, your job, your experience, hobbies or anything else you’d like to share with our readers.
I have lived in Pearland for 17 years, married to Charisse Barry, and live in Green Tee. I served, active duty, in the United States Navy and earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Louisiana-Lafayette. I am currently President of the PISD Education Foundation, and am on the Board of the Northern Brazoria County Education Alliance. I have also served on the Boards of the Chamber of Commerce, Adult Reading Center and the Economic Development Corporation for the City of Pearland.
For more information about Jeffrey Barry, visit https://www.facebook.com/Jeffforkids.
For information about Kelvin Williams, visit https://www.facebook.com/kelvinforpisdschoolboard.