Potential candidates learn the ropes

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, January 12, 2019

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Ten prospective candidates, along with the two incumbents, turned out for the Decatur ISD school board candidate information session Wednesday night.

The Place 1 seat of Wade Watson and the Place 2 spot of current school board president Cheri Boyd will be on the May 4 ballot.

Watson and Boyd said during Wednesday’s session they are undecided if they will file for reelection.

Filing for the election opens Wednesday (Jan. 16). Candidate packets will be available starting Monday at the Decatur ISD Administration Building.

It was the second year for Decatur ISD Superintendent Judi Whitis to present the information session. Last year, three people attended, including current trustee Charlie Tibbels.

“I’m excited about the interest and the turnout,” Whitis said after the session. “That amount of people having an interest and learning what we’re about is a good sign.”

Along with Whitis, four members of the school board – Boyd, Watson, Jennifer Wren and Rex Hoskins – participated Wednesday, answering questions about serving on the board.

“It’s totally different than city government,” Hoskins said. “It’s a total learning process. Every time I come to a board meeting, I learn something. It’s a learning process all the way through.”

Whitis presented the district profile to the prospective candidates, detailing statistics about the district, including the current enrollment of 3,418 students. It also included the district’s current tax rate and current budget of $38.567 million.

“Financially, the district is very healthy,” Watson said. “We have rising values and student growth. You’re not stepping into a financial mess.”

Whitis pointed out that approving and adopting the annual budget and setting the tax rate are among the chief responsibilities of the school board.

Boyd said one of the difficult decisions trustees face is making financial decisions, especially for long-term projects.

“It’s like reading a crystal ball on what to do,” she said. “It’s difficult figuring out the best way to the spend the district’s money.

Trustees also hire and evaluate the superintendent, adopt policies and serve as community leaders.

Among difficult lessons learned by new board members presented by Whitis was that individuals have no power and only the full board has power to make decisions; change comes slowly; that they represent all students; trustees can’t solve everyone’s problems; and every decision has to focus on student achievement.

Multiple questions were posed to current trustees about dealing with individual complaints. Boyd, Watson and Wren said they try to follow a chain of command and the district’s grievance process.

“I’ll listen to a concern and then tell them they have to have a conversation with this person on campus,” Boyd said. “You can’t do anything as an individual. You have to go through the proper channels.”

Wren did caution prospective candidates, “People will get mad at you. You can’t make them all happy.”

Newly elected trustees must complete open meetings training within the first 90 days and a three-hour orientation on the Texas Education Code and three-hour session on evaluating student academic performance within 120 days. New trustees must complete 10 hours of additional continuing education within the first year.

Those attending the session included Lori Reeves, Teri Houchin, April House, Stan Shults, Chase Chapman, Pete Rivera, Aaron Carey, Craig Johnson and Shannon Johnson.

The deadline for filing is Feb. 15. Early voting will start April 22 and run through April 30.


Filing for the May 4 General Election opens Wednesday and will run through Feb. 15. Here is a partial list of seats on the ballot for cities and school districts in Wise County:

Alvord City Council: Mayor, Roy King; Place 1, Troy Gregg

Alvord ISD: Place 3, Catey Allen; Place 4, Daniel Ruddick; Place 5, Mark Goes

City of Aurora: Mayor, Terry Solomon; Ward 1, Bill McCurdy; Ward 2, Rick Boland; Ward III Rick Smith

City of Boyd: Mayor, Rodney Holmes; Place 2, Tim Hammonds; Place 4, Mark Culpepper; Place 1 unexpired term, Ashley Frisinger

Boyd ISD: Place 6, Kenneth Shepherd; Place 7, Jason Hammon

City of Bridgeport: Place 3, Jimmy Meyers; Place 4, Bobby Brazier; Place 5, Billy Fred Walker

Bridgeport ISD: Place 4, Jim Bost; Place 5, Duane Sutherland

Chico City Council: Mayor, Colleen Self; two at-large places, Gary Fatheree and Rick Bowling

Chico ISD: Place 3, Bill Hand; Place 4, Lori Clark; Place 5, Steven Cox

Decatur City Council: Place 2, Susan Cocanougher; Place 4, Margaret Doubrava; Place 6, Randy Parker

Decatur ISD: Place 1, Wade Watson; Place 2, Cheri Boyd

City of Newark: Mayor, Mark Wondolowski; Place 4, Darla Loggains-Wood; Place 5, Mayor pro tem Eric Fleischer; Place 3 unexpired term, Chris Raines

Northwest ISD: Place 3, Anne Davis-Simpson; Place 4, Judy Copp

City of Rhome: Place 1, Josh McCabe; Place 2, Kenny Crenshaw; Place 3, Elaine Priest

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