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Salado ISD Board of Trustee Candidates

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Kristi Jarvis

 KristiJarvis

I have a degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University and a BS in Nursing from UMHB. I worked as a paramedic and nurse for almost 10 years. I have two children, Sydney, a sophomore in Salado High School and Jeremy who is in 7th grade SJHS. Jeff, my husband of 24 years, works as an Emergency Physician and EMS Medical Director.  I have been involved in Salado schools since we moved here 7 years ago. I have been a member, officer and volunteered countless hours in the PTO at Thomas Arnold Elementary, Salado Intermediate and Salado Junior High. I have served on several committees at the campus and district level including the SIS Site Based Decision Making Committee, and the Student Health Advisory Council. I am also a member of the Athletic Booster Club.  I am just finishing up 6 years on the Salado Education Foundation Board where I served the last two years as President.  I am also on the Chamber of Commerce Board and serve as President of the Leadership Salado Board. I believe in showing my children how important it is to volunteer our time, treasure and hard work to give back to our church, schools and Village. 

I’ve always been passionate about my children’s education. I believe Salado is on the right track and I want to make sure we continue to put the students first by giving them the resources and opportunities to excel.  I want our graduates to be the students and employees that universities and businesses seek out and compete for, not just because of their grades or the number of championships they have, but because of their character and determination to succeed.

Question #1. In the past two school years, Salado has had two teachers charged with improper relationships with students. In your opinion, did the administration handle these situations correctly? If not, what should it have done? Going forward, is the administration addressing issues of relationships between teachers and students correctly, particularly in this day of social media and personal technology? (200 words)

Kristi Jarvis Answer: As a parent, it breaks my heart to think the trust in their teachers, that we all encourage in our children, has been abused.  While I am not appropriately privy to the details of either incident, my opinion is that the administration acted swiftly and correctly in each case, both in their initial reaction and  follow up with the parents and students, staff and community. Going forward, I believe we need to make sure strategies to recognize and stop improper relationships should be included in the usual Health and Safety programs for students and staff, right along with internet safety, bullying and fire drills. I also believe parents should be offered the same training because, ultimately, it is our responsibility as parents to make sure our children recognize each of these threats and have strategies in place to be able to deal with them appropriately.

Question #2. In the latest realignment, Salado will move up to division 4A by 13 students,  of which 10 are additional transfer students. This will require more travel to compete against larger, more distant schools.  Last year, SISD waived its transfer fees to encourage more student transfers in order to receive about $6,400 per student in state funds. Was this the correct policy change? Why/why not? (reader question) (150 words)

Kristi Jarvis Answer: The latest UIL alignment numbers show that Salado ISD is growing and will continue to grow regardless of our transfer policy.  Dropping the transfer fee allows Salado ISD to keep more of our local tax dollars in regard to our Chapter 41 status. With our budget stretched thin because of the huge state cuts a few years ago, the policy change makes sense financially .  Besides dropping the fee, the policy was modified to ensure ongoing monitoring of transfer students’ grades, behavior and attendance in addition to district resources.  It allows the district to limit the number and calibre of transfer students we accept. Under these circumstances, I would continue to support the current Transfer Policy.

Question #3: Education is changing rapidly, utilizing technology and distance learning far more than ever before. Is SISD keeping pace, leading the charge or falling behind? What does the district need to do to improve its use of technology? (150 words)

Kristi Jarvis Answer: I believe Salado, like many other school districts, is struggling to keep on the forefront of technology while still being fiscally responsible. We need to remain current in order to expose our students to the latest technology that they will use in college and in the workplace. It is not enough to simply put the technology in their hands.  We need to provide training to our faculty on new and exciting ways to use that technology in the classroom.  I also believe we have to keep our technology infrastructure such as high speed wireless networks up to date and ready to handle our growing use.  A further challenge is finding alternative funding for STEM education.  We need to seek out grants and other available monies to help our already strained budget take on this much needed expense. 

Question #4: What is your assessment of the physical condition of each of our campuses? In your opinion, which ones need improvement and/or expansion?(300 words)

 Kristi Jarvis Answer: There are certainly some aging school buildings in Salado ISD.  Our Elementary School was built in 1967 and our Junior High was built in 1979.  Most maintenance and renovations in these buildings has been piecemeal and it says a lot about the quality of our maintenance workers that all our buildings are still safe and comfortable for our students. It would be logical to assume these buildings will have the most need for improvements or even replacement.  To continue those band aid fixes will get more and more expensive. In my capacity as a parent, I am not privy to the detailed physical condition of things such as air conditioners, plumbing and electrical issues but again I am confident that our buildings are safe for our children at this time.  From my observations, there are, however, cosmetic issues that, if repaired, would certainly give all of our campuses a facelift that would allow our students and staff to take pride in their schools’ appearance, in addition to their academic success . While our Intermediate School and High School are both less than 20 years old, their age does not overshadow the fact that they, as well as the Elementary and Junior High, are out or quickly running out of useable classroom space.  I believe this issue is as important, if not more than the physical condition of our campuses. 

Question #5: Will you support calling a bond election for new athletic facilities? Why or why not? (150 words)

Kristia Jarvis Answer: I would not be in favor of calling a bond election exclusively for athletic facilities. While I believe athletics, like other extracurricular activities, can be an integral part of a student’s success, the school district has many needs that should be considered for inclusion in any bond to come in the future.  I think some athletic facilities should be included in a comprehensive District Plan to update and improve all our facilities.

Question #6: Will you support calling a bond election for expanded/renovated/new academic facilities? Why or why not? (150 words)

Kristi Jarvis Answer: I would support the district starting the necessary groundwork that could result in a bond election.  I would want to see the recently completed facilities study be taken into account.  Physical condition, amount of open classroom space and student safety, as well as technological infrastructure requirements need to be evaluated.   Along with professional advise about the financial and construction aspects of a bond, I would certainly look for input from students, parents, staff and the community.  The district would also need to develop a comprehensive long term plan that takes into account our rapid growth projections as any bond would need to carry Salado many years into the future. 

Question #7. Will you support a pay increase for the teaching staff? If so, what level of increase would you support? If not, why not?(200 words)

Kristi Jarvis Answer: Yes, I would support a pay increase for our teachers.  One of the biggest challenges for any school district is attracting and retaining high quality teachers.  Salary is certainly a big part of that. Unfortunately, Salado is competing for staff with much bigger school districts such as Killeen, Belton and Georgetown. On average, we pay about $10,000 a year less than our competing districts for first year teachers. We should absolutely have a plan in place to shrink this salary gap.  However, any pay increase would need to be worked into our overall budget. We are still dealing with the huge state budget cuts from 3 years ago. Additionally, we have  aging facilities and a growing population that will also require additional funding.  It is critical that while addressing our salary gap, we do so without neglecting these other needs. Finally, it is important that we continue to work on those other issues that attract and keep good teachers. These factors include a good work environment, involved and supportive parents, supportive administrators and a progressive benefits package. 

Question #8. Will you support calling for an Tax Ratification Election to increase the maintenance and operation tax above 1.04? Why or why not? (200 words)

Kristi Jarvis Answer: I would not support calling for a Tax Ratification Election at this time.  While the state allows school districts to use the revenue from a TRE on a broader range of budget needs than a bond (a TRE can fund teacher salaries and educational material in addition to facilities and infrastructure), I would like to see a well thought-out justification for raising taxes at anytime by any method.  I think the district needs to evaluate the recently completed Facilities Study and restructure our Strategic Plan to address the recommendations it made. Any needs assessment from our administrators should reflect our future needs and not just the survival mode we have been in following the recent heavy cuts in state funding.  With an inclusive strategic plan in place that addresses issues including population growth, fund balance, our salary gap and facility needs we can make an informed decision about calling for a TRE or a bond. 

Question #9. How would you rate the performance of the district superintendent on a five-point scale? Do you support extending the contract of the superintendent? Why or why not? (200 words)

Kristi Jarvis Answer: I would rate our superintendent with very high scores. Dr Novotny came to Salado ISD at a time when we needed his high energy personality.  He immersed himself and his family in our district and our community.  He opened up lines of communication within the district between teachers, parents, students, administrators and the community. He has navigated us through the massive state budgets cuts without layoffs or compromising student instruction or safety.  I would support extending Dr Novotny’s contract to enhance the continuity needed to look to the future and further develop our short and long term strategic plans. I look forward to hearing his thoughts on leading Salado into Class 4A, guiding us through new graduation requirements as well as his recommendations for how to address our aging facilities, limited available classroom space and our growing population. 

Question #10: What do you consider to be the greatest weakness or flaw in the Salado Independent School District and what can you do to change it? (200 words)

Kristi Jarvis: I believe our greatest weakness is inadequate staffing brought about by the last 3 years of deep state education budget cuts.  Fortunately, Salado ISD was able to decrease our budget, not by firing teachers, but by eliminating positions through attrition and retirement. This meant more and more of our faculty and administrators were taking on several roles and more responsibilities. While our district tries to lesson these burdens on staff while playing catch up with needed positions, we are also facing record growth in our district, dwindling classroom space and aging facilities. As a School Board Trustee I would urge the district to evaluate all our needs carefully and not rush to throw money in any one direction until a revised Comprehensive Strategic Plan can be put in place.

Question #11:  Why should anyone vote for you? (200 words)

Kristi Jarvis Answer: I ask the voters in the School District to vote for me because I will always think about our children first. The voters deserve a School Board Trustee who will bring fresh new ideas to our District; who has been involved not only in identifying problems but in working out realistic solutions; who will advocate for a balanced education for our students consisting of a strong academic base supported by essential activities such as art, drama, UIL, athletics, agriculture and many others. They deserve a Trustee who understands a student’s success is measured not only by acceptance at a competitive college or finding a rewarding career but also by being a caring and contributing member of society.  They deserve a Trustee who will be a good steward of their tax dollars while pushing for innovation in every aspect of our district and whose passion for our children’s eduction shines through in every decision and in every vote. I believe I am that School Board candidate.