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Questionnaire: Jennie Lasley for EPISD Board of Trustees

Jennie Lasley.
Jennie Lasley.

-What relevant experience qualifies you to serve as a school board trustee? 

I have lived in this neighborhood for almost 30 years.  I have raised my children here and volunteered here.  I am also a licensed Mediator for Educators and right now with the issues we are facing at EPISD we need someone that can bring us together so that we can solve our problems.  I also have a great working knowledge of the district so I will not have that learning curve and can get right to work.

-What is the top issue that's driving you to run for this position?

I want our children and community to thrive and the only way that happens is if we can provide them with an effective education.

-On the search for the new superintendent: what are the top 3 qualifications you seek in a candidate? 

1. Superintendent experience; 

2. Someone that understands our community and Ft Bliss; 

3. Someone that is equally savvy in academics as well as business

-What's the biggest challenge the district faces when it comes to educating the students and what will you do to address it? 

Given the diversity of our district, there is not a “one size fits all” approach.  It’s not about programs, it’s about people.  We need to create policies that focus on student outcomes and provide resources (time, people, and money) to develop solutions.

-Another challenge the district is facing is that enrollment continues to decline. What should the district do to better address this? 

According to the TEA’s District Transfer Report, as of October 2020, 5,433 students have transferred out of EPISD—61% of those students are attending the various local charter schools.  What’s interesting is that nearly 1,600 of our students are enrolled in Ysleta ISD. We do however have 2,366 students transferring into our district.  That said, we need to improve the quality of education we are offering to our families and also provide students with opportunities that they cannot get anywhere else.

-Do you see the value in the hybrid learning model in a post-pandemic classroom? What do you think is needed to improve upon what exists? 

There is value in the hybrid learning model, but it is not for all students.  We need to create learning environments that benefit students therefore we need a student-centered approach.  

-Knowing that kids won't be vaccinated for many more months if not another year, should the district dedicate money to improve air flow and social distancing in facilities or should those funds be used elsewhere? 

We now know that COVID-19 is primarily an airborne virus, so it is imperative to improve the indoor air quality in our learning spaces.  We also need to create a learning space that teachers feel comfortable in as well.

-Last summer, the board was set to consider another $242 million bond to pay for security upgrades, conversion to refrigerated air conditioner and LED lighting, and improving athletic facilities. The district is still working on completing the projects from the $669 million bond approved in 2016. Would you support another bond issuance in 2021 or 2022? Please answer Yes, No and Why. 

No.  We need a clear audit of the $669 million bond before we approve another one.  There are ways to pay for capital improvements without a bond and we need to be smarter about how we conduct business.

-You represent voters in your district. Do you commit to communicating directly with your constituents and answering questions when asked about your opinion on a given issue? Some trustees punt to the board president even though they are not being asked to speak on behalf of the board, but to only share their opinion as an elected official for their specific district. 

As a board trustee, I am one vote on a board of seven.  We need to work collectively and collaboratively to support our district’s vision and mission.  It is important to listen to the concerns of my constituents and also be transparent of the actual facts of what is really going on inside the district.  It is important to me that there is one source of truth.

-Last year, the board approved a 5 percent increase to the tax rate, raising taxes by $75 dollars on the average home (worth $150 million). The pandemic has brought deep financial challenges for most families and now the Central Appraisal District has raised valuations, too. Would you support a tax rate increase, tax rate decrease or leaving it flat? 

I do not support a tax rate increase.  If at all possible, I believe we should do everything we can to lower the tax rate.  In contrast, we also need to understand that education is an investment and not an expense.  

-What makes you the best candidate for the job?

The unique experiences that I bring to the table as a teacher, parent and lifelong learner makes me the best candidate.  I have volunteered in the schools and in our community that I have lived in for almost 30 years and I am dedicated to making sure our students get the education they deserve.

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