ABILENE, Texas - Saturday's elections are quickly approaching – and the Abilene ISD school board candidates are opening up about their plans for the district.
Incumbent Dr. Danny Wheat has been on the board since 2002 and currently serves as the vice president. Samuel Garcia, his challenger, previously served on the school board for one term, but he said he still has some things to offer.
"I bring to the table a lot of connections to the Hispanic community, to the African-American community, to the Anglo community, to the business community," Garcia said. "I would like to see us have more connections with the Dyess community."
Wheat said his goal is to address student's needs.
"My main purpose would be to impact the children's education, not just education but their social needs, their physical needs and their mental needs as well," Wheat said.
Testing was also a hot topic for the candidates. Wheat said he feels like students should have basic skills in order to pass the required testing.
"As you look at the state and our district and all the districts across Texas, the thing that kinda sticks out to me is that we have a literacy issue and I think working on early reading and writing for children," Wheat said. "We're actually pushing that as a goal."
Garcia said state testing is required, but we should re-think how often we test in the district.
"We as a district have implemented other testing and we need to reexamine what effect does that have on teachers and students," Garcia said. "The stress level that I'm hearing from teachers is so high and also from the students."
As the school district discusses plans on how to spend the $88 million bond recently approved by voters, Wheat said he wants the district is faithful to what the voters expect.
"We want to move through those bond dollars as we promised the community and be on time in doing that," Wheat said.
Garcia said if he's elected, he wants to make sure the board thinks about the long-term effects of where the money goes.
"From a budget standpoint, we're gonna have to make sure that we have the best bang for our buck because we need these schools to last a long time," Garcia said. "We need to get our 50 years out of these schools."
Teacher salaries were also a concern for Wheat. He said we should talk to legislators about paying more to the people who teach our youth.
Garcia also said he was passionate about staying connected with students' families. He said although we can't be the parents, we should still be available to lend support.
For a list of all the election day polling places, click on this link.
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