Carroll district board candidates seek greater transparency and balanced budgets

Posted Friday, Apr. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Early voting for the May 11 election begins April 29

Sam Torolopoulos: www.samt4cisd.com

Matt Kormann: www.mattkormann.com

James Palazzo: www.jimforcarrollisd7.com

Chris Archer: www.archer4cisd.com

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SOUTHLAKE -- Balanced budgets, school finance and campus safety are top issues among the four candidates seeking two open seats on the Carroll school district board.

The 7,688-student district has been working to maintain academic excellence amid budget shortfalls, an endeavor that helped draw candidates to the May 11 election. The 2012-13 budget has an estimated shortfall of $1.6 million, a figure reduced from an estimated $3.9 million deficit last fall.

Two at-large seats are on the ballot: Place 6, held by John Thane; and Place 7, held by Sherri Williams. Neither is seeking re-election.

Candidates for Place 6 are Sam Torolopoulos, president and CEO of ATI Capital Group; and Matt Kormann, a vice president of sales for the Freeman Co.

Candidates for Place 7 are James Palazzo, a managing director for the Navigant healthcare consulting company; and Chris Archer, vice president of Associated Time & Parking Controls.

Candidates in both races are offering their views on how to manage dollars better. Phrases such as pro-tax, financial integrity and financial transparency are this election's buzzwords. These phrases dot campaign positions on Internet sites and Facebook pages.

Place 6

Torolopoulos describes himself as a fiscal conservative and said he wants to "continue the tradition of providing a great education to our children while balancing our budget without raising taxes."

Kormann said he does not want to be typecast as a "pro-tax" or "taxes-first" candidate simply because he wants to look at all options.

Torolopoulos, 50, said that no tax increases or fees are needed to balance the budget since revenues have increased faster than student enrollment. He also supports controlling growth in spending and starting term limits.

"I will see to it that we spend appropriately on a per student basis, making sure that essential programs are fully funded based on need vs. want," he said.

Kormann, 41, calls himself "decidedly pro-options" in helping budget and finance the Carroll budget. He said he supports finding new revenue sources, including a campus coffee shop at the high schools.

"I would like to see us do some unique things," said Kormann, who has served on the district's budget and finance committee.

Kormann said school safety is a top issue that not only includes protection against tragedies such as the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary, but also drug/alcohol abuse prevention and social media responsibility.

"Most folks are aware of some of the tragedies that have hit our high schools this year," Kormann said.

The Carroll community mourned the deaths this year of Seniors Chase Nunez, 18, and Kyle McNutt, 17, of Grapevine.They died Jan. 5 from drug overdoses, according to authorities.

Place 7

Candidates for Place 7 also emphasized putting students first and balancing the budget without tax increases.

"I think the school system is important because it brings great value to our community," said Palazzo, 50, who wants to see greater transparency in the budget process.

"I do not support a tax increase," Palazzo said.

Palazzo said he reflects the community mood since voters rejected a proposed 2-cent property tax increase last fall.

Palazzo, who moved to Southlake because of the school district's reputation, lists several campaign commitments on his political website: protecting academic and extracurricular programs, operating the district within the annual budget and term limits for school trustees.

Archer, 49, said he is running to give back to the community. He said school finance is top issue for Carroll schools.

"The lack of state funding for schools is a major challenge," he said.

Archer said another challenge is community involvement in district issues and decision-making.

"It is about the futures of our kids and shouldn't be reduced to a few short catch phrases that define a political affiliation," Archer said.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Diane Smith, (817) 390-7675

Twitter: @dianeasmith1

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