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Your Voice, Your Vote

Questionnaire: Vanessa Betts for EPISD Board of Trustees

Vanessa Betts.
Vanessa Betts.

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

I meet and exceed the qualification for the position, I am a former educator, advocate for literacy, author of children’s books with a passion for education. I am an approachable person. I served as an executive board member for Victims of domestic Violence, which offered a refuge for mothers and children.

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

Ensuring educators, students and support staff are able to confidently return to schools that are healthy and safe with adequate ventilation and all safety protocols are in place. This is wholeheartedly my major concern for running for this position.

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

  • He or She should be local, qualified, understands the unique dynamics of a border state and country and be able to lead by example 
  • Must have a vision that will be beneficial to the district and demonstrate transparency with no hidden agendas
  • Be able to form a rapport with the stakeholders

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

“Teachers who love teaching, teach students to love learning”, however “when good educators are shown appreciation for the countless hours that they devote to their profession, it makes it more rewarding, “states an educator that I interviewed. Teachers should be able to live above the poverty level. I would seek to ensure that they receive a growing wage which will increase morale.

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

I’d like to think of it as a trickledown effect. Number 1, when we hire a superintendent with integrity, who will align and secure principals that  share the goals, vision, and mission of the district, they will hire eager and qualified teachers who are vested in educating our future.

-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?

The only value that I can see is, that it might minimize large classroom gathering to offer another layer of protection until there’s a vaccine that’s suitable for students, however parents, educator  and the community need to have a say in how, or if this will work, and what will be the consequences if there should be another epidemic outbreak. The technological aspect must be equitable and suitable to reach the needs of all students, including, but not limited the blind or hearing impaired.

-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?

School safety is critical for students and the community.

-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

I would not support another bond issuance. Last year was an unprecedented, year and the results of it affected household in many ways. People are still trying to recover. Jobs have been lost and many citizens have suffered financial collapse due to job loss or other unexpected circumstances. It is unfair to continue to fleece taxpayers.  Insufficient accountability of the way that the projects have been completed is unacceptable.

-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. 

My opinions are not as important as the constituents that I represent, who count on me to be their voice.  I am only the only candidate that has committed to holding community meetings to hear the voices and concern of the stakeholders.

-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 decreases or leaving it flat?

I’m not sure about the question that has been asked, or the specific stated home values, however I believe that It would be counterproductive to increase taxes while our community is still financially vulnerable.

-What makes you the best candidate for the job?

As I stated previously, I meet and exceed the qualification for the position, I am a former educator, advocate for literacy, author of children’s books with a passion for education, and I understand the complexities of educating students in a diverse community. 

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