►VIDEO: JISD School Board Candidate Responses | May 4 Election

jisd-profile-picAn opportunity to hear and see the JISD School Board candidates in the May 4 elections has been scheduled for tonight at the Jeffersonian Institute.  The event is sponsored by the Jeffersonian Institute, Marion County Chamber of Commerce and the Jefferson Jimplecute and begins at 5:45 P.M.

All three incumbent JISD trustees have announced for re-election. Two incumbents have drawn opponents.

In Place 1 Jason Bonner will face Bruce Boyd. Place 2’s Kent Thigpen, DDS is unopposed. The race for Place 3 will be between incumbent Bobby Langbartels and Lorrin Minton.

Responses to the Candidate Questionnaire are below:

*Jason Bonner | Candidate for Place 1 JISD Board

1. Give a brief biography of yourself.
I am Jason Bonner up for re-election for Trustee Place 1 of the JISD School Board. I have been a resident of Marion County for 39 years. I am married to my wife Teresa and have four great kids. My oldest son, Dory, graduated JISD, while Logan is currently in the tenth grade; Cooper is in the third and my daughter Bentlie is in the first. I have walked every hall of JISD as a student, uncle, father or friend. So, my pride and dedication is for what’s best for JISD. I am self-employed and have operated my own business since 1988 here in Jefferson. I am in my second term as a JISD trustee and have been honored to represent the people of Marion County. Of the six years in office, the last three I have served as board president.

2. What are your professional credentials and education?
I am a 1989 graduate of Jefferson High School. I attended SFA for a while, until I had the opportunity to turn my studies into my own business. As a self-employed business owner, making my living off the land, I have been able to use my experiences to become a better trustee. In my business, as in the school’s, you are never dealing with a set revenue each year. You have to cut back when needed and really weigh your wants and needs.

3. Are property taxes for JISD too high/too low/ about right?
Since my six years in office, the tax rate has not increased. Sine my living is made off the land, I do not want my taxes to go up, as most of you don’t. The board has done a good job of working within our means to give the best we can offer to our kids while not coming and asking the taxpayers for more money. Due to increased enrollment, we are adding new classrooms at the Elementary Campus with money we were able to save over the years in fund balance to keep from coming to you with a bond or raising our taxes. In 2017, we as a board voted to give an additional $10,000 homestead exemption that many districts were doing away with. With our newest school being 31 years old, we are being very conservative with our tax dollars to maintain our facilities and spending so we can give our kids the best education they deserve.

4. What is the most pressing issue or need for JISD?
The most important issue to me is our kids’ safety. If our kids aren’t safe, learning isn’t important. As a board we have taken great strides to ensure the safety of our kids, faculty and staff by instituting the Guardian Program. We supply teachers’ tools and training to teach, so we need to do the same with safety. We want to make our kids ready for the world. We are offering our kids numerous CTE classes to prepare them for the workforce or at least give them common knowledge of different jobs. We want our kids going to college to have the opportunity. We are offering dual credit classes at a much reduced rate so that some of our upcoming freshmen can graduate high school with an Associate’s Degree and without high college debt. Our test scores are an issue, but you can’t define the great students and teachers we have by just a letter grade. Nowhere does it show the great improvements our kids have made. It being new, there are a lot of adjustments being made to the system. Our staff is really working as a team from Primary to High School to get our kids ahead and on course so that we can learn ahead, instead of playing catch up.

5. What is your vision for JISD?
My vision has a lot to do with my previous answers over pressing issues. JISD staff is doing what they need to do. We are keeping our kids safe to the best of our abilities. We are always looking for the best teachers and administrators to make sure our kids are moving forward. We are preparing our kids for the world through teaching them a trade or furthering their college degree. I’m a firm supporter of all extracurricular activities. It doesn’t matter if you are interested in sports, band theater arts, or so forth this might be the highlight to one of our kids’ days. So, I’m all for offering anything we can to further our students success and enjoyment. All in all I want to offer a well-rounded education for our kids to succeed in whatever they do. I want to give them the best chance possible to become constructive adults. I want to offer a balanced mixture of education, extracurricular activities and real life teachings so that after graduation they are ready to enter the world and prosper.

 

*Bruce Boyd | Candidate for Place 1 JISD Board

I’m 51 years old, a married father of four. My youngest son attends Jefferson Junior High School. I am an Army veteran. Awarded the Army Commendation Medal and numerous awards during my enlistment. I spent six years as a criminal investigator for the Government specializing in narcotics. I am an Elder at the Jefferson Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Jefferson is my forever home.

I have been in a leadership position since the age of 19 which continues today. During my enlistment I progressed up the ranks quickly, became NCOIC for MPI (military police investigations) and eventually NCOIC of the drug suppression team. In the past I have served as VP of field operations for multi-million-dollar construction companies. I have held the title of senior project superintendent at every company I have been employed with. My daily responsibilities include managing up to 150 employees and managing budgets in excess of 30+ million dollars. Just because someone is placed or elected into a leadership position, doesn’t mean they are a leader. Being a leader is tough and tough decisions need to be made.

Attended Central Texas College, Berlin GE campus
Attended Purdue University

Property taxes are unique in Marion County as we have more affluent people in our county that are of retirement age. Therefore, with the State cap it makes managing what tax revenues we do receive more challenging, but not impossible. As a true constitutional conservative, I am always reluctant to raise taxes. We need to be creative in how we use our tax dollars to ensure our students are receiving the best education we can give them.
Our children’s success is the most pressing issue today. Education is the key to every child’s success. That doesn’t mean every child has to go to college. We need to show our children there are other options. We must guide them on how to be successful no matter their career choice and educate them on how to achieve that success. It’s not easy, but it has to be done.

My vision for JISD: The future success of Jefferson depends on the children of today. The mission is within the next 2 years, I would like to see a 20% increase in our STAR scores and a 40% increase over the next five years. To achieve this goal, the conversation must start with the faculty, staff, and parents. Collectively we can find a solution to JISD issues. We need to reward innovative teachers who “think outside the box” and have positive results. The teachers are on the front line. We need to support them in their efforts to do the hard work it takes to be successful. Without a thriving school district our community suffers as well. Bottom line: investors will NOT look to a community with substandard schools and that affects everyone.

*Bobby Langbartels | Candidate for Place 3 JISD Board

1. Give a brief biography of yourself.
I graduated from Jefferson High School in 1986. I went to Northeast Louisiana University on a football scholarship and achieved Division 1-AA national Championship in 1987. I have been married to my wife Shelia for 25 years, she is an Optometrist in Jefferson. We have one daughter, Elaina, who is a senior this year and will be attending Texas A&M in the fall.

2. What are your professional credentials and education?
Knowing the importance of education, I went back to school and received by Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M Texarkana in 2001. I am currently plant manager of A&A Coating in Lone Star, Tex.

3. Are property taxes for JISD too high/too low/ about right?
Of course none of us enjoy paying taxes, but it is a necessary evil for any school district to survive and thrive. For the past three years, we have managed to maintain the same tax rate. Being fiscally responsible, we are currently able to build a $1.5 million improvement project at the elementary school which will add eight much needed classrooms without having to increase taxes. The tax office has also done an outstanding job of collecting delinquent taxes which can be a long process. So, I think the tax rate is about right.

4. What is the most pressing issue or need for JISD?
I believe the most pressing issue is teacher and staff pay.We have so many excellent teachers that go above and beyond for our students. They certainly deserve higher pay to make their jobs and lives easier.

5. What is your vision for JISD?
My vision for JISD is to see a 100 percent graduation rate for Jefferson students. I would like to see ALL students recognize the importance of an education and be able to attend the university, tech school or trade school of their choice. We have a stellar group of staff members that work tirelessly to help these students achieve their goals.

*Lorrin M. Minton | Candidate for Palace 3 JISD Board

1. Give a brief biography of yourself.
My name is Lorrin M. Minton. My husband, son and I moved to Texas after I graduated college and quickly decided we would never leave. My son started kindergarten in Jefferson ISD last fall and is already reading like a champ! Since moving to Jefferson, we have enjoyed almost every restaurant in Jefferson and probably gained a combined 20 pounds.

2. What are your professional credentials and education?
I previously worked as the Certification Administrator at Pulaski Technical College. I am currently the Support Operations lead for an international security software company.

3. Are property taxes for JISD too high/too low/ about right?
In 2017, Jefferson ISD’s property tax rate was $1.128360 which was lower than Avinger ISD ($1.17000) and Ore City ($1.335000). As they relate to our school, I would need to review the budget and expenditures to determine how they are spent on students, teachers and staff. I do not believe anybody likes to pay taxes, but they are a necessity for community growth.

4. What is the most pressing issue or need for JISD?
Tracking our students after high school. I believe tracking our graduates will provide great insight into how Jefferson ISD prepared them for the world. This enables us to continue doing what works and improve what doesn’t.

5. What is your vision for JISD?
A safe and nurturing school district that prepares students equally to compete in the growing academic and/or job markets. I look forward to seeing our community get together to improve our children’s lives, both now and in the future.

*Kent Thigpen, DDS | Candidate for Place 2 JISD Board (unopposed)

1. Give a brief biography of yourself.
I have been a practicing dentist here in Jefferson for 32 years. My wife Mary and I have lived here and raised our two children here. Both of our children graduated from Jefferson High. Our daughter graduated from Texas A&M and U.T. Houston medical school. Our son Allen graduated from Texas A&M and now finishing up a Master’s Degree in chemical engineering at Rice.

2. What are your professional credentials and education?
I am a graduate of Texas A&M University and the University of Texas Dental School at San Antonio.

3. Are property taxes for JISD too high/too low/ about right?
I feel fortunate that JISD has not had to raise M&O taxes in the last few years while still being able to budget improvements for our district.

4. What is the most pressing issue or need for JISD?
The safety of our students and staff and the constant improvement in academic achievement should be our top priorities.

5. What is your vision for JISD?
My vision for JISD is to provide our students and teachers with the best resources possible so that our school will continue to grow and improve in all areas.

 

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