Hibbs brings experience, insight to Arlington school board

Posted Wednesday, Apr. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The past three years have been busy -- maybe even tumultuous -- in the Arlington school district.

High schools struggling to meet state and federal accountability standards.

Deep budget cuts to deal with funding shortfalls.

The departure of one superintendent without adequate public explanation and the hiring of a new one.

School board member John Hibbs said that when he was elected in 2010, the district had been running operating deficits for several years, drawing from reserves to balance the budget, and seemed to be in a state of complacency, reacting to problems instead of addressing them in a forward-looking way.

With experienced administrator Marcelo Cavazos having been named superintendent in December and a new strategic plan adopted, the district appears poised to make the kind of progress it needs.

Hibbs, who pushed for an end to deficit spending, said the district has a $140 million fund balance and $23 million in oil and gas revenue reserves.

He said the strategic plan takes an aggressive approach to getting students performing at or above grade level and graduating ready for college or careers. Among other things, it provides for eighth-graders to work with a counselor and mentoring teacher to set an education plan designed to keep them focused and in school.

Hibbs, 51, chaired the district's citizens advisory committee for the 2009 bond program. He is western regional manager for Bausch & Lomb's contact lens division, and two of his children graduated from Arlington schools. His younger daughter attends Martin High.

Challenger Alisa Simmons, 49, argues that the board needs to do a better job of examining why academic performance isn't adequate and that there should be more facilities equity across the district.

But Hibbs said a curriculum audit due soon should show "where we're missing our marks." He also said new schools being built with bonds and fund balance money will help the neediest areas of town.

Simmons, who is African-American, said she would bring a diverse voice to the board, although that isn't her only issue.

She works as marketing and communications manager for the Tarrant County 911 district, has been involved in school-level and district-wide committees and community boards, and has two adult sons who graduated from Arlington schools.

Hibbs' experience and insight warrant another term.

The Star-Telegram Editorial Board recommends John Hibbs for Arlington school board Place 4.

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