Posted on 11 March 2015.
My name is Tony Mooney, and I am a 1988 graduate of Decatur High School. The Mooney family has called Decatur home for 125 years, and I was born and raised here.
After my wife and I completed our military service and it came time to select a community in which to raise our children, we chose Decatur, not just because of familial ties but also because of the wonderful educational system, the robust small-town life and the proximity to the Metroplex.
As a product of that educational system, I went on to serve in the United States Navy, and I’m a Gulf War veteran. I earned awards and accolades and was honorably discharged upon completion of my term of service. While in the Navy, I met and married my wife; we have been together for more than 23 years.
We have two amazing children, who have an array of talents and interests that rarely cross-pollinate so we stay very busy with them.
I also hold a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, summa cum laude, from Park University and am a member of Who’s Who Among American College Students.
I am a Decatur Eagle. I marched in band, played football and threw the discus and shot put in track. I was an officer in multiple clubs and participated in UIL academic events.
All the success I’ve had later in life started with the education I received and people I encountered while growing up in Decatur. From Stephen Wren and John Fostel, to Martin and Jana Woodruff and Kelly Tibbels to Kathy Bennett and J.E. Carson, I was influenced by quality people who called Decatur their home.
And just how do you attract the type of quality people to a small community who go on to influence students and others?
You do so by ensuring three things are solid and reliable – the educational system, medical care and community economy/growth.
I would like to address one of those features and how it correlates to the current bond issue.
A. Transportation – We live in a rural community with a student population of more than 3,000 children. A high percentage of those children live outside the city-proper and must be bused in. In addition, rural roads are not always in the best of conditions, and we must have safe, reliable, dependable buses to transport our kids.
Also, the district must maintain a fleet of service vehicles to get facility maintenance personnel to and from locations, as well as transport teachers, coaches and administrators to and from events along with the students. It is imperative that the fleet of buses and vehicles be in good condition and/or upgraded/replaced to maintain the level of safety needed.
B. Security – The current security systems in place at DISD are simply not adequate to keep up with the student population as well as district requirements for asset production. More robust surveillance, access control and security procedures must be provided to adjust to the changing world we live in, to ensure the safety and well-being of students, employees and district assets. In some cases, new procedures such as access-controlled doors, would preclude the need for older style locking mechanisms and not only make the area more secure and easier managed, but also save the district money over the long-term by doing away with the need for conventional keys, re-keying and key management procedures.
C. Technology – We live in an era of Moore’s Law where the exponential improvement in digital electronics creates a situation where computer technology can become obsolete within a few years of release, in some cases even less time than that! It is incumbent upon us to ensure our children have the proper tools to learn and be productive. Managing a technology growth plan for upgrading is part and parcel of an IT director’s job, and Troy Bagwell has done an amazing job of ensuring our students and teachers have the tools necessary to learn and teach. That technology must be improved however, and it is time to do so.
D. Facilities – Facilities break down over time. From HVAC units, to plumbing, to windows, to brick and mortar and everything in between, we must improve our facilities as well as plan for more facility infrastructure to accommodate growth.
Proposition 1 is, in my opinion, a need across the board. It addresses many concerns such as lack of security, older vehicles, technology improvements and facility support. These “needs” add up to be the support structure required to ensure our children are going to school every day to a safe environment where they can focus on learning and compete at a district, regional and state level. This proposition, if passed, will help to provide them with the skills and abilities needed to go on to the next level; be it college, general employment or service.
A. DHS Multi-purpose Center – While I understand why Proposition 2 was separated from Proposition 1, it is a simple fact that the two are mutually inclusive.
We want to raise our families in a quality community rife with opportunities for our children and young adults. In addition, we should want our community to grow in a manner that showcases our town folk and makes us proud to say we live in Decatur.
Change is a constant and in order to try to propagate positive change we’ve got to do what we can to “stack the deck.”
That statement goes back to my opening thoughts on what grows a community.
In order to attract quality people to the community, we must have the facilities to support the “qualities” that might bring families here.
Decatur has become a force in academics and sports. We compete every year beyond the district level in almost every facet from volleyball, to band, to journalism, football, rodeo, theater arts, to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math).
During the course of seasonal competition, one thing that has been a detriment is the lack of an indoor facility to utilize in inclement weather and at night. A multi-purpose center will alleviate that concern by providing a facility that can be utilized by virtually every activity that has to step outdoors and otherwise. Every athletic endeavor will be able to leverage the facility right along with band and any other activity the teachers imagine. The facility is not limited to football or even just sports, which seems to be the main concern. It can be used for various teaching situations such as the science environment, vocational activities and anything else the faculty can dream up.
It can be a showcase that attracts those quality families we want to set roots in Decatur and help grow our community.
The cost of the two propositions are not astronomical. They represent a very real, manageable investment in our school’s growth and the quality of education our children will receive. They represent a chance for Decatur to take the next step in developing its infrastructure, which helps to facilitate the education of our young people. It gives DISD an opportunity to compete for the mind share and abilities of quality students and educators.
In short, it will help propel DISD to the next level which, in turn, helps to propel our community to the next level. Please review the two propositions, their attributes, their strengths and their weaknesses. Ask questions and do some research. Vote for them on the basis of their value to the district and the quality they will bring to our children.
Vote yes for our children.