Candidates in the Keller School District race say they will have to deal with a tight budget if they are elected on May 11. Five people filed for three places on the KISD board.Place 1 incumbent Jim Stitt is unopposed.In Place 2, Karina Davis is challenging incumbent Kevin Stevenson. Davis, 43, is a director of employee benefits and has lived in the district for three years. Stevenson, 51, a healthcare administrator, is completing his second term. He has lived in the district since 2003.Jack Davidson is running against Trustee Cindy Lotton for Place 3. Davidson, 56, is a systems engineer and has lived in the Keller school district for ten years. Lotton, 58, an elementary school counselor in the Hurst-Euless-Bedford district, has been a district resident for 34 years. She was first elected to the board in 2004.Candidates responded to questions from The Keller Citizen. 1. Why do you want to be a trustee and what qualities would you bring? Place 2- Karina Davis: I believe that everyone who has children in the school district has a responsibility to be active in their district. I have over 20 years of experience in corporate Human Resources which provides me with a background that I feel is uniquely related to this position. I am also active in local charities, the Society of Human Resources Management (including Professional Emphasis Group), a member of the Regional Oversight Committee for United Healthcare and the Advisory Council on Business Management for Capella University. Therefore I have a combined background of resource and talent management, business and education which will help me in providing a broad perspective to the board. Place 2-Kevin Stevenson: I want to continue the work that we have done over the last six years for the Keller ISD community. I bring leadership, experience and the ability to make difficult decisions with a focus on the students and fiscal responsibility. Place 3-Jack Davidson: Two of my children are current students in Keller ISD, so I have a keen interest in the quality of the education they are receiving. I bring a fresh perspective and my business background provides the ability to understand and make valuable input to performance and process improvement initiatives. Place 3-Cindy Lotton: As the most experienced trustee, I believe that I bring a sense of history to the board. With a new superintendent, I believe that my knowledge of the recent past is especially important. I have seen Keller ISD change much in the past 9 years and I would like to be a part of the future for our students and our staff.2. What do you see as the role of a school board member? Davis: To act as a liaison between the district and the community, while making the best possible decisions for our children and teachers. Stevenson: Board members provide governance and fiduciary oversight for the District. We have one employee—the Superintendent—and we must ensure that he is leading the District in the direction that is best for our students and in the manner expected by our community. Davidson: The role of a Keller ISD School Board member is to represent the community in policy making, planning and evaluation activities to ensure our students receive a quality education. Lotton: As a board member, we see the district at the 30k foot level. We create a vision and set policies to govern the district at the highest level. We are responsible for one employee, the superintendent, and we guide him as he leads the district on a day to day basis.3. What are the greatest challenges facing KISD? Davis: Finances are always a significant challenge for every school district. I am not yet certain of other major issues facing the district, because communication to parents in the community is limited. Stevenson: The greatest challenges in KISD are brought about by our State legislators--inequitable funding between districts, over-burdensome testing requirements, unfunded mandates and declining local control. School board members are elected locally and should be able to make decisions that are aligned with the wishes of their constituents and the best interests of the students. Davidson: The top three challenges facing the Keller school district are educational funding, changing educational needs and performance measurement. Lotton: Needless to say, the funding problems in the state are our biggest challenge. Currently we wait with our fellow districts to see the outcome of the court decisions to restore funding equity to public schools. We are planning to go forward with a deficit budget this year in order to maintain our current standard of instructional programs and compensation. We are hopeful that some of the funding will be returned at the end of the legislative session and the funding formula will be changed. 4. What would be your priorities if elected? Davis: My first priority is doing the right thing —which is not always the easy thing. Each decision that is made, needs to be in the best interest of the kids, the teachers and the community. My next priority is to address community communications. As a parent in the district, I know first hand that we have limited communications and need to address this issue for better understanding and support for decisions that are made. Stevenson: My priorities lie in ensuring that all of our students have the opportunity to be successful post-high school. I am excited about our recent discussion regarding multiple pathways to graduation and the movement toward enhancing our career and technology curriculum. Providing students with these opportunities will benefit all students, even those who are on a collegiate track. Davidson: My priorities are addressing the three challenges listed above by focusing on the best use of available resources, meaningful metrics, and the quality of the education our students receive. We need to focus on the educational requirements to prepare our children for a competitive world market. Lotton: I am most proud this year of the establishment of the Keller ISD Community Ambassadors cohort group. We have had 20+ community members join us for monthly sessions in various buildings around the district to educate them about the various functions of the district. The members will be “lay leaders” in our community to promote and provide understanding to their neighbors and friends about all the great things happening in Keller ISD. We have had great feedback and responses from the members and we plan to expand the program to two sessions next year. Involving the community in the district will continue to be one of my highest priorities.