(Editor's note: An earlier version of this article erred in the spelling candidate Wes Wadle's surname.)
Jim Copeland, Marquin Payne, Wes Wadle, Jody Lipscomb and Patrick Kubik have filed for election to the Pottsboro Independent School District's board of trustees. Election Day is May 6.
Copeland is seeking re-election to an at-large position on the school board. He currently serves as the president for Pottsboro ISD's board of trustees and is the owner and general manager of A-1 Little John Inc. Payne is seeking re-election to an at-large position on the school board. She currently serves as the vice president for Pottsboro ISD's board of trustees is the administrative assistant at Huck's Catfish. Wadle is seeking election to an at-large position on the school board. He is the vice president and senior corporate counsel for Conduent Corporation.
Below are the candidates' unedited responses to questions answered via email. Phone calls and emails seeking responses from Lipscomb and Kubik were not returned.
Why are you interested in this specific board and why do you feel you would be a good addition to it?
Copeland: I have served on the PISD school board for 6 years, and currently serve as Board President. I have gained a wealth of experience regarding all aspects of the public school system. I am very proud of the many improvements we have made to PISD during my tenure, but there are many important issues that will be addressed in the upcoming months. I am running for re-election to help guide our district through these challenging times and insure accountability along the way. I will continue to push for needed facility improvements, technology upgrades, and complete transparency of tax payer dollars.
Wadle: I have been married to my wife, Summer Holbrook, for fourteen years. We have two school-age children and have lived in Pottsboro for over three years, but my extended family has lived in Grayson County and the Pottsboro community for over thirty years. I desire to serve on the Pottsboro I.S.D. Board of Trustees because I think it is a perfect spot for me to give back to my community. Currently there is no attorney on the school board, and I believe that my skills would be beneficial during contract negotiation and other legal decisions. In addition, the majority of my career is working with local and state level government contracts and legislation.
Payne: I am currently the Vice President of the PISD Board and have served as a Trustee for the last six years. I chose to run again because I want to continue the quest of the current board. As our mission states, preparing our students for their future is a must. I am devoted to this cause and can help achieve our objective. To be an effective trustee, one must have good rationale, remain committed to the cause, be trustworthy, and have a passion about quality public education. I believe I possess these principles, and I want to continue to serve our Cardinals, our district, and our community.
If voted in, what specifically do you hope to accomplish?
Copeland: As a lifetime member of the Pottsboro community, I enjoy serving on the school board and will do whatever it takes to keep our district striving for excellence. I have many goals for our district including: Improve facilities, insure a competitive teacher salary schedule, push for higher academic achievement, expand our vocational and extracurricular programs, and continue efforts to keep our budget in check. The real challenge is identifying the best use of our tax dollars to maximize the benefit to the students and teachers of the district. The school is the center piece of our community, and I am grateful for being a part of its leadership. I pride myself in being an independent thinker who will always vote my conscience and stand up for what I believe is right regardless of its popularity. Thank you for your continued support!
Wadle: If I am elected to represent my community on the Pottsboro I.S.D. Board of Trustees, I hope to accomplish three things. First, I will assist the board in passing a bond that expands the ability of the district to provide an excellent education for our children without unduly burdening the taxpayers. Second, I will help to review and streamline the district's operating budget to ensure all income is used as efficiently and effectively as possible. Finally, I want to improve the relationship between the school board and the teachers. We must ensure that our teachers feel appreciated and recognize their many accomplishments.
Payne: One of the current goals of the board is that PISD will be one of the top academic District's in the State of Texas. I want PISD to continue to reach for this goal, and I want the board to keep guiding us in that direction.
Private school voucher programs or tuition incentives are arguably one of the most contested ideas in Texas public education right now. Supporters say it promotes school choice, while critics say it is unwise to public money on private schools that aren't held to the same accountability standards as public schools. Do you support school vouchers, why or why not?
Copeland: I do not support the school voucher idea as proposed. I want 100% of all PISD tax dollars to stay in our district. I do not think public tax dollars should be given to private or charter schools.
Wadle: I am not in favor of school vouchers. The amount of the vouchers will not be large enough to help those most in need of them to be able to afford a private education. In addition, the vouchers will disproportionally take money away from the public school that need the funds most.
Payne: In my opinion, the idea of school vouchers is one of the most controversial issues in public education. Because the State of Texas has fallen behind nationally in educating our children, I can understand the push in the direction of giving our tax payers the option of school choice. However, the playing field is not equal among charter schools, private schools, home schools, and public schools. In order for vouchers to work properly and fairly, all schools that educate our students must adhere to the same rules and accountability system. Also, the voucher system will potentially overcrowd one district while taking away funding from another. This could create greater problems for schools across the state. I believe the answer lies in quality teachers and challenging curriculum. It's not difficult, and the State of Texas must change its complacent attitude regarding public education. To attract the best teachers for our students, we must offer salaries that compete with other industries. Education must come first.