Voters in Denison Independent School District’s Ward Five will be heading to the polls May 4 to select one of three women who are running for the open position.

The candidates are Erica Drieselman, Christina Moran and Becky Russell, and the Herald Democrat recently asked them a series of questions regarding the role of the board, their skills and what they would like to accomplish if elected.

Each candidate was asked the same questions and asked to respond in 100 words or less. The responses are as submitted by the candidates, with edits only for space, formatting or if a candidate went well over the word limit.

What specifically does this position mean to you?

Drieselman: This position is an opportunity for me to provide a link to a section of our community currently underrepresented. This position means that a voice of parents with school aged children will be present on the board. Currently not one board member has children in or that will attend our schools. This perspective would be a great addition to those already serving on the board. It also means that the board would have an educators perspective. Currently, we do not have an educator on the board. Serving the community in this capacity would be an honor.

Moran: I am very passionate about the future education of our children. Throughout my personal work with Denison School District, I’ve witnessed areas that need growth and change. I have served on boards where I voiced concerns. Participating in opportunities has instilled in me a desire to continue working for our school district and children. To serve on the School Board will allow me to make a positive impact on our growing district and community.

Russell: When contemplating the decision to run for school board I come with no agenda other than to serve our school district in a new and exciting way. I come with the heart of a teacher. It’s been awhile since we have had a teacher representative on the board. I am a retired teacher with 34 years of service. I know and love this community and district. My years of experience provide me with a unique perspective. Being a school board member can never be about one person, one issue or one campus. My motivation is to serve for the whole of the district.

What specifically makes you the most qualified candidate for the position?

Moran: As a parent and a member of our community, I am and have been totally invested in our children’s education. I’ve been in the classroom spending time reading with a child, chaperoned on field trips, served on the Parent Teacher Organizations for 16 years making suggestions and voicing concerns. I know the testing anxieties our children are experiencing. I am one who will speak up, ask questions and I will advocate for our children.

Russell: Over thirty years of teaching experience, seventeen in first grade, 16 in the gifted and talented program while simultaneously serving in the role of a Kindergarten and 1st grade curriculum coordinator has provided me with unique opportunities to work in the trenches while also leading teachers. Later I helped develop the mentoring program for first year teachers in our district. It is one of the finest in the state! I raised three Denison graduates and am married to a retired middle school science teacher who also drove a bus in addition to his teaching responsibilities. We currently have two grandchildren that are in the school system.

Drieselman: I have been attending the School Board meetings for over a year in an effort to learn the role it plays in our community. I am the only candidate who has attended these meetings. Aside from having a proven interest in the School Board, I have experience as a classroom teacher both in general education and special education. I have a Master’s degree in Education Administration. I have consulted in districts across the nation on topics in many areas of education. I have had the opportunity to serve on PTA/PTO boards for 14 years as well as serve children through other ministries in our community.

What is the biggest issue facing the district and what is your strategy to tackle that issue?

Russell: Denison is growing rapidly. For years we heard growth would come…but now it is here! We have to plan now for this exciting new growth. Already three of our elementary campuses are at capacity. As a GT teacher is was protocol for us to move every three years. I have “lived” on each campus three years at a time. I know the cracks, crevices and the closets of these facilities. We have big questions…do we add on? Do we build another elementary? If so, where? Cost? Those conversations are starting now. This is such a critical time for our district.

Drieselman: Currently, the biggest issue facing Denison ISD is preparing for growth. With the amazing renovations taking place downtown,expansion of Gateway Village, and anticipated new single and multi-family developments, we need to be prepared to place those children immediately into classrooms where there is space. I would vote for opening any available classrooms at campuses that have received the waivers and anticipate growth, instead of voting yes for waivers and overcrowding our teachers and students. I believe it is our duty to talk to districts that have gone through a similar growth cycle.

Moran: With development projects popping up all over the Denison area, our schools are already experiencing overcrowding, enrollment levels are bound to increase in the coming years. In order to positively address this future need, our district needs to begin improvements on the older infrastructures. Therefore, funding throughout our district needs to be reallocated equitably in order to ensure all buildings are able to handle the imminent population growth. If elected to the Denison school board I will make equally and adequately dividing infrastructure budgets one of my priorities.