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Candidate Profile and Questionnaire: Tracy S. Miller for LISD Trustee, Place 3

Lewisville ISD Notes
Posted by LewisvilleTexan on 2013/9/27 0:20:00 (6842 reads)
Lewisville ISD Notes

Open in new windowThe Lewisville Texan Journal invited all candidates for the Lewisville ISD Board of Trustees to complete a questionnaire so that we and our readers could understand their experience, qualifications, and points of view. We will present each candidate's answers in full in their own articles here.

General Info

Candidate:Tracy Scott MillerOpen in new window
Office Sought:LISD Board of Trustees, Place 3
Campaign Website:http://tracyscottmiller.com/
Social Media:
Occupation:Client Partner for a Global Customer Experience Company
Education:High School: Lena-Winslow High School
College: I attended Judson College, now Judson University in Elgin, IL and in 1986 received my BA in Computer Information Science in 1986. I attended Dallas Theological Seminary in 1993 and Yale School of Management in 2008.
Email: tracyscottmiller4lisd@yahoo.com


Background Questions


LTJ: Have you ever run for or served in elected office before? If so, please list campaigns and offices held:

Miller: Yes, I was initially elected to the Double Oak Town Council where 5 candidates for 2 positions. I subsequently went on to win 4 additional elections. In that I held positions such as Mayor Pro-Tem, Deputy Mayor Pro-Tem, Treasurer, Deputy Treasurer. In addition I started the Double Oak Citizens Commission and led the effort to screen and interview 70 candidates that ultimately led to our hiring of an outstanding Police Chief.

I headed up Double Oak's initial Storm Water Runoff committee mandated by TCEQ.

My public service offers an advantage in that there is not a lot of mystery as I would serve. I dig in, roll up my sleeves, ask questions and saturate myself with information on the issues. My record is public and I'm proud of my record. I listen and respond to every citizen question and concern and always make sure they get a response or clarification.


LTJ: In the past year, how many public meetings for this governing body have you attended?

Miller: I have attended 2 meetings physically. Remember I was on the Double Oak Town Council up until recently which holds it's meetings on the same Mondays as the Board. I have read all the minutes from the Bond Committee and Board meetings as well as watched all the videos with the exception of those not posted for technology issues.


LTJ: Please list any professional certifications, personal enrichment, or continuing education related the position you're running for:
Miller: Coming from a very small town public education system, I have worked hard to compensate by advanced learning. I went to IBM's Harvard and Management leadership school. In addition, while working for a large consultancy I went to the Yale School of Management on a special executive program. In addition I attended Dallas Seminary for 1 year.

I am a avid reader of business leadership, management and Christian books. My library is large and I have a strong appetite for learning and growing. In the last 3 weeks I've read John Dewey's Experience & Education, The Global Achievement GAP and Disrupting Class to get broader perspectives on education initiatives that will benefit our District, kids and teachers.

I am a Eagle Scout and I am trained in Texas Council of Governments Public Funds Investment Act. In college and high school I held Student Council positions and was state level competitive wrestler.


LTJ: What do you do for a living?

Miller: I am a Client Partner for a Global Customer Experience Company and manage our largest client which equals 30% of our companies revenue. My career has always been with Technology companies specializing in the Communications & Media industry. I started my career as a system engineer and moved in to management several years later.

I have travelled extensively around the world and am fortunate now to be able to have limited domestic travel providing me more time to be with my family. However, this travel has allowed me to see the world education system and productivity of the global workforce, a level of experience that I believe complements the existing Board and Staff. I've seen first hand via my own children and travel what is happening and am eager to help the District, State and U.S Schools look to compete more aggressively with those emerging economies and their global workforce. Between 2008 and 2013 my team created 8,000 new jobs.


LTJ: Do the skills from your profession apply to the position you'd like to win? How so?

Miller: Yes. My business experience and role cover 4 key areas that I think complement the existing board and District staff:

1. My company builds facilities around the world. I understand the differences between Capital expenditures and Operational expenditures. One drives the other. As an example, Bond elections cover Capital expenditures but they do not consider the impact on our Maintenance and Operations budget which requires a legal separation. A Bond offer and build out or renovation of facilities and infrastructure, which by the way is what we told the voters the bonds were for, results in a significant burden thus on the M&O budget which often gets lost in the discussion. In my role in business, the business case for similar projects is looked holistically and and disclosed in it's entirety.

2. Hiring, equipping, enabling and retaining a productive workforce is critical of my role and my ability to be success. This includes ensuring proper worker mentoring, coaching and training. The use of technology in training the next generation employees has some positive impacts on employee productivity and coaching. However, the connection and engagement to learning leaders and managers or the lack thereof is the number 1 reason people succeed or leave companies. Every engage in a discussion about enabling a workforce that is globally competitive and locally/nationally marketable.

3. In addition to my Computer Science Degree with a minor in Business, I have worked for IBM, various multinationals and small start ups. I have personal experience in planning and implementing the effective roll out of technology to enable workers and achieve business results. This is not academic for me. In addition, I bring strong experience of building business continuity planning and/or back up plans should the dependence on technology for learning be interrupted for any reason. Disruption and outage in business should run at 99.999%. Our schools should utilize strong standards that include availability and access at equal performance while also providing access to kids to don't have access in their homes. Because I have done this with companies of all sizes, I believe I can bring value to the District staff in this area in addition to the benefit to our kids, teachers and District IT staff. I also have experience in speaking with CEOs for large technology companies such as Google, Apple, AT&T, Verizon, etc. I am certain these are relationships that may be helpful under the Strategic Design especially in looking at providing wireless access to lower income students. For the record, I have NO FINANCIAL INTEREST OR BENEFIT in leveraging these friendships and relationship. I can help facilitate creative discussions.

4. I have experience managing budgets equal to and greater than that of the district. My budget, like the school, is heavy on labor costs. But I work effectively with my CFO, operations partners and my clients to look for continuous process improvements and efficiencies in market conditions that have limited surpluses and/or profitability.


LTJ: Do you, or does your employer or any immediate family member have any contracts with Lewisville ISD?

Miller: No. I do not have any business interests in the area that benefit me, my family or provide visibility for my vocation or career.


LTJ: Do you, or does your employer or any immediate family member consider Lewisville ISD a potential client or customer?

Miller: Not at all.


LTJ: Do you have volunteer experience in any of the following? (Non-profits, Political Organizations, Governmental boards or committees, Schools, PTAs, Booster Clubs, Homeowner Associations, Other community organizations?) If so, please list.

Miller: I have served on several Booster clubs, coached numerous soccer teams, was a Scout leader and continue to work with young teens/college boys 1X1 in mentoring, have worked in youth ministry and small group leadership for 26 years and was a youth pastor intern my first year out of college.

I was also on the Twin Lakes Owners Association for 10 years and President for 2.

My wife Melissa has held PTA President positions at FME and Marcus and worked in Area 11 and 16. She was voted a lifetime PTA member. As such, we are deeply involved in PTA via her involvement and advocacy. Our entire family is committed to community service.

I also headed up Double Oak's initial Storm Water Runoff committee mandated by TCEQ.

We are actively involved at the Village Church in Flower Mound. Separately I have taught internationally for non-profits mentoring business leaders in China and India as well as special mission trips to China, India and Germany. I have benefited from seeing education locally with my family and internationally as a business executive and teaching in countries striving to lead in the global economy.

Lastly, as the process continues to mature, I am engaging actively and aggressively in the latest Drug Council initiatives, which are very personal for us, and plan to be an active participant with the local Mayors, Law Enforcement, DEA and Denton County Narcotics detectives.


Issues Questions


LTJ: How invested are you in LISD's strategic design? Do you believe that this has transformed LISD for the better? What positive attributes do you think that this transformation has brought for students in the district?

Miller: Let me start by saying we are blessed to live in a area where we have great schools, great school options and great communities.

I am vested only in that I support the intent, direction and fundamental principles of Strategic Design but believe the District continues to make mistakes in the roll out. Out of 7 primary goals and 47 tasks in the Design, only 9 were scheduled for completion in 2012-2013 and only 3 have scheduled targets in 2013-2014. The remaining 35 tasks do not have any published date based on the District’s published documents on www.lisd.net under Lewisville ISD Strategic Design Implementation Timeline.

I believe the intent is to drive transformation but we are in the very early stages. There really are not demonstrable “transformation” results other than in structure and external form. There are many activities that reference the Strategic Design components and the most visible is 1:X that will be discussed in one of the later questions.

What has been transformational is the intent of the Design. Strategic Design is really a District representation of the intent behind the Texas High Performing School Consortium and principles transferred from the Schlecthy Center. I will refer to the Consortium later in the questions but this is an extension of the Visioning Institute that Dr. Waddell helped establish several years ago. Subsequently the 82nd Legislature called for the Consortium to provide feedback via HB 1557. When Dr. Waddell came to the District, LISD applied for and was accepted in to the Consortium. http://texashpsc.org

You can learn more about Dr. Phil Schlecthy at http://www.schlechtycenter.org (I am not advocating this organizations position rather sharing where the District is getting some of their learning). Dr. Waddell utilized Dr. Schlecthy’s organization when he was at Birdville as well.

http://www.birdville.k12.tx.us/common/pdf/WOW.pdf

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blo ... f-teaching-has-to-change/

Whereas the Strategic Design has provided us a more defined strategy and direction, we are far from achieving “transformational” results against desired outcome we hope to achieve by moving away from the industrial form of education to a progressive and personal approach to ensure no student falls through the cracks.


LTJ: What are your thoughts about the emphasis on standardized testing in Texas for student assessment and district accountability? Do you support the district’s request as part of the Texas High Performing Schools Consortium to opt-out of the state’s accountability standards?

Miller: I am very opposed to the current STARR and TAKS “high stakes testing” requirements. It has created frustration with teachers, students and parents.
Whereas I do think that we should have some standard of measure across the state, the current approach is not creating a positive and meaningful learning environment.

I do think our participation in, along with the other 22 members (23 in total) is beneficial to the District and it is part of the readout that will be given to the Governor and the Chairman of the Texas Education Agency in December of 2014. The 82nd Legislature passed House Bill 1557 establishing this Consortium.

Whereas the 83rd Legislature with House Bill 5 moved in a positive direction, it does not eliminate the STARR test so I believe we will have to operate in the “high stakes testing” environment. Unfortunately this means our teachers will still be measured against the results of the standard testing. I do take the position that we need some way to measure performance across the state and if we give discretion to Districts we then need a way to normalize results across all Districts in the state. I absolutely believe we need to move a way from a “one size fits all” approach to delivering education and allow personalization at the District, school and class room level.

In the video you can see in the aforementioned link, you’ll see that the Consortium addresses much more than just the student assessments. Regrettably, I don’t expect that the testing will change until the 84th Legislature meets in 2015 as it would require a special session to do so prior or intervention by the Governor and 2014 is a very political year for our state. There is some talk about the potential of a Special Session in the spring of 2014.


LTJ: In your opinion, do local school districts truly have local control?

Miller: The debate and legal battles around school finance have clouded this issue. The state required assessments, and finance not withstanding, the school districts do have control. For example, we did not need outside approval to move forward with Strategic Design. So where we have limited control is the area of portions of our income and around the student performance assessments.

From an income or funding perspective let’s say that less than 25% of our income comes from the state mostly via the Texas Public School Fund (PSF). This money is allocated to Districts and Charter schools based on student enrollment. The rest of the income comes from other sources with the majority coming from our property tax assessments. The Legislature determines how much money they send us based on a complex formula around the PSF. I support the position of the court that has ruled that the state has exercised a statewide tax assessment in some of the allocation decisions in the last several years.

The good news is this: Even though we are a high-debt District, ($1.1B and the 2nd highest per student to debt ratio in the state), we generally have been running surpluses over the last several years, so our cash position remains strong. Whereas I do not support recapture there are provisions in the constitution and the Texas Education Association guidelines that clearly spell out when recapture will take place. At a local level I don’t like that we have to give property assessment money to the state but I understand the state’s position. Again, I don’t like it but it does try to take in to account how to provide for the best education for all students under the constitution. I just think the methodology is flawed and likely a violation of constitution of our state.

As it relates to the second area where we have limited control, standardized student testing, I maintain my previously stated position on high stakes testing and teacher measurements. It’s a local decision as to how we teach students and measure teachers on STARR test and performance. I believe we should address this in a different way than we are doing today. We have students who can pass their classes in a particular subject but can’t pass the STARR test. There is something inherently wrong with this.

On many other issues we have local control and we’ve led the public to be that we don’t given the two areas I mentioned. Now if the question was “Do you think the schools and teachers have the ability to customize their approach to education” I think it would generate a different level of discussion and one that I think is more important than do local districts truly have control.


LTJ: Over the past few years, as the State of Texas has reduced funding for school districts, Lewisville ISD has taken many steps to cut back on its maintenance and operations budget, most notably, three years in a row of voluntary resignation incentives to shed teachers and staff and increase class sizes. Do you think the district has taken the right approach, or would you have done something different? What do you say to the voter who says we need to cut administration, or just “trim the fat”?

Miller: Labor is the single largest item in our expense budget. It is natural to look at how to cut that labor. In addition to the voluntary resignation incentives you referenced there has been some reduction in administration and labor at the top of the District staff. However, depending on which statistics you use, we have about 6,000 employees and around ~3500-3700 teachers and we have unfilled positions. Reducing the number of teachers and increasing class ratios while running budget surpluses (which you can find in reading the annual reports) doesn’t make sense given the Strategic Design goals. We are putting more responsibility and tasks on teachers as it is with Strategic Design let alone increasing classroom sizes and operating with fewer teachers. The following link from Zillow shows that there are 72 schools in LISD with a total of 3,744 teachers and ~51,000 students (statistically off of the projections we used in 2008 to look at facilities requirements that initiated the bond election) with a student teacher ratio of 13.6. I’m sure parents are wondering what classrooms have this ratio as most do not. That said, I recognize that Special Education, Section 504 and schools like the Lewisville Learning Center and other special class room and subjects run lower ratios and dilute the averages as most classrooms for the STEM and other required classes run much higher than the 13.6.

http://school-district.findthebest.co ... ic-school-district#answer

LISD Certified Annual Reports:
http://www.lisd.net/apps/pages/index. ... 085&type=d&pREC_ID=466925

LISD Approved Budgets:
http://www.lisd.net/apps/pages/index. ... 083&type=d&pREC_ID=279748

I provided this background to support the point of view that the notion of cutting teachers and going “green” (the District’s definition of hiring younger teachers) may not be the only labor area to look at and in fact may not be in line with achieving the desired education results we want. The Legislature has been clear: get all your schools to exemplary status. I would look at ways to reduce M&O by finding ways to reduce administration labor expenses and making significantly different decisions around the technology infrastructure necessary to support 1:X and the other Design goals. I would also suggest that while I like the direction of 1:X, and we may have negotiated great prices with Apple, reacting with our IT infrastructure, which always drives unexpected costs. BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology) gave us plenty of early warning signs that our school network required upgrade and was unreliable. The decision to allow BYOT should have anticipated the network bandwidth requirements and even that latest rumored $40M network upgrade this summer is insufficient and not reliable enough to support the current 1:X technology in the hands of the students and teachers as of end of September 2013. The drive to 1:X has led some to believe we need to hire younger teachers with the objective being first to drive down cost but second to get teachers who embrace the effective use of technology. It disregards the value of experience.

What I’d say to the voter is that we need to use the money from bonds for the exact reason we said we would when we presented it to you. The election was not a license to spend and reallocate the money towards other buildings or programs. The Bond Committee has no authority in and of itself. It is a recommendation committee and we need to make sure we remain focused on using the acquired capital, and soon to be acquired additional capital, for the original intent.

Lastly I would remind the voters that the additional cost items on Strategic Design were all determined with the approval of the Design in June 2010. This was the same time that we were protesting recapture with the state so given that the District was frustrated with the state around recapture and allocations, we continued to make long term commitments to spending. Some of which I believe are legitimate but we have not communicated effectively and transparently to the voters, parents and frankly to the teachers. The “why” in all this is as important as the “what” and “how.”


LTJ: Do you support the school board's decision to join the lawsuit against the State of Texas over school finance? Why or why not?

Miller: It is regrettable that the local districts combined with various advocacy groups have not been able to work with the state and prevent litigation. Essentially the inability of the legislature and the local taxing entities to resolve these issues is now a burden on all of us. When the local districts enjoin together in a lawsuit against the state then both parties are costing the taxpayers money. Not all districts chose to participate and I’m not sold, yet, that we need to enjoin ourselves in the suit. There are a number of plaintiffs that combined represented ~1M students. I think the outcome would have been the same regardless of our participation. I think more importantly was the group that focused their case around efficiency. The plaintiff representing the “efficiency” part of the argument was arguing on behalf of all ~5M students in the state and making sure that the tax dollars are spent the best way possible for all students rather than to be solely focused on the argument that we need more money in the districts. I believe that argument creates a more effective discussion that incorporates all students including those that go to non-district schools.

However, I do think the state implemented a statewide tax assessment that is unconstitutional in our state. In the meantime, we have ample financial resources and alternative school options to provide great learning for our children in the 13 communities we serve and surrounding area. In addition, we have strong support from community programs and other organizations address immediate issues in the District so I don’t think we should be “pulling the fire alarm” yet on this issue. The current court ruling that the assessment is unconstitutional is only a few months old so this won’t be resolved unless or until the Texas Supreme Court rules on the matter.

The case represented both Chapter 41 (lower income) and Chapter 42 Districts (recapture districts that send money back to the state. They send back about $1B back to the state). The constitution implicitly says that we need to have a system of “adequacy and equality.” However the Supreme Court has invited arguments on the portion that expressly states that we have a system of efficiency.

Judge Dietz’s ruling or more appropriately how he intends to rule:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vZ2bC5KyO_s


You can view the different perspectives by looking at this link on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTXm8ZV4IeQ


LTJ: The district’s current technology strategy, which it calls 1:X, calls for having the right device in the student’s hands at the right time. Classrooms are getting Apple products, including MacBooks and iPads. Over the next three years, the goal is to get an iPad into the hands of every student who wants one, so that they can take them home and keep them for the school year. Do you support the policy, or would you have done something differently? Why or why not?

Miller: The District, although well intended, was and remains unprepared for the strategy they are moving forward with especially when it comes to technology. The waters have been muddied with the taxpayer funded device roll out. The infrastructure to support a roll out requires a reliable network. In addition, we’ve layered the complexity of not effectively preparing our teachers adequately and equitably across the District. The training has been limited and lacked the depth necessary to achieve the desired results. The ecosystem of technology from design, product purchase, installation, testing to applications availability and ultimately productivity of the end user is all woven together in a fabric that is available and has contingency plans. Even with BYOT (bring your own technology) students, teachers and volunteers would consistently complain that the network was unreliable. We invested millions of dollars this summer and have yet to see improved reliability.

The focus should be on the Engagement Model and the Digital Learning Environment and not the device roll out, again although well intended, has muddied the waters for us and I would like to see us stabilize the first two and then focus on the devices. Additionally, what happens after the 3-year roll out? The refresh cycle on this technology is less than 18-24 months. We will have ~52,000 devices funded by the taxpayers and a massive infrastructure to support it. Given the accelerated advances in technology, we will need be purchasing new iPads and starting the process over in 3 years. We won’t be able to just hand these down after 3 years as they will be out of date and it will create inequity amongst students in device design and functionality.

This has become a minimum confusing and controversial issue. 1:X is just a portion of Strategic Design and the focus on getting students devices has taking priority over other key elements of the Strategic Design. The intent of the technology is to enable an environment of collaboration and learning and accommodate different teaching and learning methodologies.

To the earlier question about school district control and the lawsuits in front of the state, we must recognize that we are making commitments to a learning environment that we may not be able to afford or at least currently support effectively.

There are inherent flaws in the roll out, preparation of teachers, support infrastructure around, applications and the measurement of the intended results.

The other thing I would have done differently is focused on a device agnostic strategy. There are any number of devices and if parents “opt-out” of the school device because they own an iPad already, the student doesn’t get full functionality. This could and should be addressed and leading companies can help guide us here. In fact, more importantly we have strong technical and business resources that live in our district that can help us address some of the complications.

The last thing I would say is that the removal of smart boards in class rooms given the 1:X and computer carts, etc. does not emulate how world class companies ideate and collaborate. Smart boards and whiteboards are still often used and needed in this new environment.

Khan Academy, who has support from Bill Gates, Google and others has built a effective Digital Learning environment so I would suggest that we are trying to lead in a area where we might want to learn from other organizations who are achieving advanced results in enable learners and teachers so that “no child falls through the cracks” and that learning is customized for the students.


LTJ: Do you have kids in the district? If so, what schools do they attend?

Miller: Both of our kids grew up in the district starting at Flower Mound Elementary to Marcus. Our daughter graduated from Marcus in 2012 and our son attended Marcus and now attends the Media Arts Academy in Flower Mound to prepare for a career in music production and audio engineering.

My wife Melissa was PTA President at FME and Marcus and held board positions in LISD Council of PTA Area 11 and 16.


LTJ: Is LISD hitting the mark when it comes to communicating with parents, and involving them in their children’s education? What, if anything, do you think the district should do differently?

Miller:I think “LISD” aka the District would say that in Strategic Design they listened to many parents, teachers and staff. I support that. But it seems that once they held the forums they stopped listening to and engaging parents and starting driving the strategy forward. I raised my concerns with the implementation plan of Strategic Design in question 1. The common complaint is poor communication from the District and often lack of responsiveness to concerns raised directly to the District and/or the LISD School Board of Trustees. Often the minutes from public meetings don’t accurately reflect what a parent presented in the open forum during Board Meetings. In addition, teachers are not being told the “why” of “what” they are being required to do. The District will highlight isolated cases of success with various programs but these are not the norm across what will soon be 72 campuses and ~52,000 students.

At a school level I do believe the individual schools are doing a good job in communicating and engaging. We have personally been pleased with the communication from all of our schools and their interest in engaging parents and community organizations to accomplish the common good for our kids.

At a teacher level I would say that either the District or the school should require some standardization and expectation for parents. Not all teachers communicate as effectively or as timely as others. An example would be grading and posting scores. The District should have an overall policy on timeliness and the school leadership should enforce it. This will eliminate some confusion for parents and students especially later in the 9 weeks or semester terms.


LTJ: Have you participated in the INSIDE LISD program? If so, did it change any of your perceptions about how the district is run?

Miller: I will be attending October 8, 2013.


LTJ: What are your thoughts about school rezoning in general? How do you balance the needs of the district to keep campuses balanced and avoid having to build unnecessary capacity, while minimizing disruption to students?

Miller:Although this process often seems mysterious to families, there is a system, a science and a bit of art to the process. I think the District has tried to do their best to look at the direct impact on families and students as capacity availability and growth create the need for rezoning within a district.

At the end of the day this comes down to how to best manage the building capacity in the district. If we had endless money it would not be an issue. Assuming land availability we’d just expand the schools where we are at to accommodate families in those neighborhoods. The other time this becomes a issue is when a school continues to underperform to meet the standard set by the state to be Exemplary OR when the school has so much stranded capacity that the economies of scale are not there to support the facility.

One way I would balance this is by doing more sharing. I recognize this is a controversial position and our kids went to Marcus and I love our new stadium. However, within a system that is funded by tax dollars, I believe that sharing facilities for various reasons is ok. In addition I would look at stranded capacity in buildings that are more often only used on weekends or evenings. This could be church facilities, businesses or number of other types of facilities where we could leverage them either for specific use or to handle some of the rezoning issues so that families can keep their kids in the same high school feeder system or not have to transport them long distances.


LTJ: Occasionally, particularly when parents are upset about school re-zoning, people will suggest that LISD de-annex some part of the district such as Flower Mound or Frisco, and let them form their own district or join another. What is your take on these ideas? Would you ever vote to allow the district to be split?

Miller: SCHOOL REZONING, SUGGEST DE-ANNEX.

Rezoning within a district should really be looked at on a yearly basis and have some flexibility in the process itself. However, the process of redrawing a boundary between school districts, or with this question via de-annexation, is a process regulated by the state laws and although it can be accomplished locally it can be lengthy, time consuming, long and often does not lead to the desired outcome.

The school districts have authorization to levy taxes. They do this with an expectation of the number of students, demographic forecasts, etc. They have approved capital expenditures and long term debt associated with current facilities. Redistricting involves much more than where a student goes to school. It includes assets and liabilities. As such, my vote would be based on a very thorough understanding of the need, expected outcome and overall impact to the taxpayers and family. It’s not a binary answer for me.

I understand why some areas in Frisco, Double Oak, etc. and some families feel disenfranchised from the communities they live in. Currently a group in Frisco is trying to accomplish this. www.wearefrisco.org. I do not have the history or current knowledge of the full scope of this but would listen and cast my vote based on proper information and understanding of the overall impact to the system for both districts. I can certainly appreciate why they would want their children to be a part of Frisco ISD given the community aspects but as important the amount of time the students are spending on buses or being transported by parents.


LTJ: What are your thoughts on private school vouchers and the expansion of charter schools?

Miller: Melissa and I chose to send our children to public funded schools. I am pleased that we have so many good and viable options for parents to send their children to private schools. On the issue of vouchers I do support the idea in some special circumstances. First, if the student is forced to continue to attend a district school that has showed little to no progress towards an exemplary status as defined by the state. I recognize this is a process so I would allow it time but for the school to improve but our state constitution requires equality and access to the education with the explicit need for efficiency and requiring parents to send them to poorly performing schools does not seem to me to be in our communities interest.

I do not take the position that vouchers should include the same amount of money on a per student basis today for the same reasons we get in to re-districting. There are assets and liabilities. As the state moves to allowing Charter schools to take over facilities of poor performing schools, it may alleviate this problem but then it also may alleviate the need for the vouchers in this specific case, as the goal would be for the Charter school to turn this around.

The second area where I would consider vouchers is for a special needs situation that is not just economic. A special need that a certain school may be more able to handle than the industrial model of education we have today in public schools.

In both of these scenarios I would however require that the schools chosen by the families be obligated to the same requirements that public schools are held to in that they cannot discriminate as to who they accept.

Although I am a huge fan of private, faith based schools and I want to help ensure their success, I believe that there are a number of options that cover the economic spectrum and ways that these faith based schools offset the cost of education so I would pause to give universal vouchers to anyone who wants to just pull their kids out of the public schools. The reason many parents send their kids to some of these private schools is for the values, faith and culture taught. Given my current point of view that schools that receive vouchers should have the same restrictions as public schools, I believe that these schools, in order to maintain their value and culture, would risk the aforementioned by being required to accept everyone just so that they can take advantage of the voucher system. IT’S IMPORTANT THAT I’M NOT MISUNDERSTOOD HERE. We are members of the Village Church and I went to a bible college. I am not saying that these schools should be discriminated against rather I’m looking at the constitution and making my assessment and providing a point of view that does allow for equity for all students while protecting school choice for those who go to private schools. If we use that argument to secure vouchers then the private or faith based school has to be accessible and available for all students. I’m trying to protect the values and culture of these schools with my position and balancing it with the constitutional requirements.

I rarely defer anything to the federal government but I believe the federal and state educations agencies should lead on this and they are leaning in the direction of more vouchers. As a LISD Board Trustee I would then work within the parental choice options to best manage the financial impact for the district and for our community.

I am a supporter of Charter schools. In Texas these are granted by the state not the district and funded with money set aside in the Permanent School Fund for all of our children. They don’t get money from tax assessments from communities. These schools get PSF funds and grants. There are really good Charter schools and some bad ones. However, as our District Superintendent told me, Charter Schools are giving us some ability to move foreword with things like Strategic Design because the public school system as we know it is under threat.

Charter Schools allow for some flexibility that we don’t have in the public schools. Smaller class sizes, less infrastructure and overhead so they can provide some customized learning for students who need it. This competition is good and healthy for the overall system and it will drive higher performing public schools in the State of Texas.

In February, the state will start allowing Charter schools to float bonds using backing of the PSF similar to the instruments used today by district schools to maintain higher bond ratings.

But these schools are not for everyone and they don’t offer the significant sports, band, theater and other activities that are available to students in the public schools in LISD today.

I would like to see more cooperation between our district and the Charter schools similar to what we see with Austin ISD and what is taking place there. School districts are no longer monopolies and committed educators, teachers, parents and elected officials care about the overall education provided in our area.

Between 2000 and 2010 student population growth in Texas was 20% while the cost of providing that education grew 95% in the same period. Competition is good for the system and creates a better education environment for all of our children regardless of the type of school they go to.


LTJ: What is your opinion on the value of cooperation between the school district and its municipalities? Is there any aspect that you would improve?

Miller: This will be my shortest answer. I absolutely believe in it and feel that too often we are asking schools to fix macro problems in our community given what occurs in the schools. Our municipal leaders have been and are moving more aggressively, especially in the area of drug and alcohol abuse, to cooperate amongst each other and with the schools to address problems.

I believe a healthy system includes the community, cities and schools working towards the common good of our children for education and to create a safe and healthy physical and social environment for our children. The responsibility does not fall solely on one group but takes leadership from the community with input from the schools so the educators can focus on providing great learning environments for our kids.


LTJ: Do you have a preferred approach when it comes to capital improvements and bond programs for the district?

Miller: The means of financing the build out or improvement of public school facilities is via voter approved bond elections. Although we have plenty of cash in our district (see financial report links above) and we have more bonds we can sell based on the 2008 voter approved bond election, I do have concerns about where we are headed with facilities. The east side is where the growth will take place but we still have some upgrades that need to take place elsewhere.

These bonds carry a heavy burden. As an example, in the 2013-2014 budget, Bond Services is $107,000,000 with $54,000,000 going to interest alone. This is with a 17-year amortization. When we sell the new bonds in the next couple of months, we will have to budget M&O to offset the interest and other operational costs for the facilities. Some operational costs may go down with improved HVAC equipment, etc.

The previous demographic studies can be found at:
http://www.lisd.net/ourpages/auto/201 ... 0and%20Schools%202012.pdf

http://lisd.net/bond/boc/demographics092012.pdf

I think the bigger issues are allocation of existing resources and the need for future bonds. The projections for student population growth are off and building construction or renovation is based on those projections. The district is having a new study run and that will give a better indication of what the future financial requirements will be. We will look at this when we get the new demographic studies Superintendent Waddell mentioned in the August 23, 2013 Dallas News article then see where we need to allocate resources and what it will cost. Currently our enrollment numbers are down from projection so we need to continue to look at effective use of our money and facilities but clearly this is an on-going issue.

You can view this article at:
http://www.dallasnews.com/news/commun ... es-forward-with-plans.ece


Background Check


LTJ: Have you ever been convicted of a felony, or have you been convicted of any crime other than a minor traffic offense in the past 10 years?

Miller: No.
LTJ has conducted a criminal background check as we do for all local candidates, and it confirms no history.


LTJ: Have you been a defendant in a lawsuit in the past 10 years? If so, please provide a brief description.

Miller: No.
LTJ has conducted a civil background check as we do for all local candidates, and it confirms no history.




Keywords:
- MunicipalElection2013
- Lewisville ISD

- Rating: 1.00 (2 votes) - {$lang_ratethisnews}


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