Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Round Rock ISD Candidates: Status Quo vs. Fresh Insight?

When voters go to the polls on November 6 (or in Early Voting beginning on October 22,) even straight-ticket voters will have additional choices to make in local ‘non-partisan’ races. Residents within the Round Rock Independent School District will choose trustees for Place 2 and Place 7.

For Place 2, the incumbent Chad Chadwell is being challenged by Tere McCann. Currently the board president, Chadwell’s board has faced intense backlash over not one, but two disastrous re-zoning attempts and parental frustration with declining ratings. RRISD was further embarrassed during the 2011 budget negotiations during which Superintendent Chavez threatened to lay-off teachers- until it was discovered the district was sitting on $200 million in its own rainy-day funds. In the past few months, the board and administration collaborated to swipe $74 million from general funds to super-size one high school and build a $25 million campus for drop-out students. All this without public input and while the new Cedar Ridge campus is being called “portable-ville” by frustrated parents and students. But the board isn’t worried about being called to account; last month they also raised property taxes on Round Rock families.

At last night’s candidate forum, instead of answering questions Chadwell ranted about people who run as ‘Conservatives,’ saying that he didn’t even know what that meant. (Which is obvious considering his actions regarding the school district.) He insisted that the political philosophies don’t matter because it’s all about the children. Sounds like somebody doesn’t want the voters to know he’s a Democrat? (Who happens to support Matt “Not-A-Native” Stillwell.) Why should he be afraid to admit it?

Challenger Tere McCann attempted to help remedy the district’s previous rezoning blunders this year while serving on the boundary committee, but discovered that the boundary decision was a forgone conclusion. He was so disturbed by the process that he even offered $10,000 to the education foundation if his enrollment projections were incorrect, provided that anyone, anywhere, would make the same pledge on behalf of the RRISD Administration’s projections. No-one accepted the challenge. With three children attending RRISD schools, McCann decided the board needed fresh perspective and some solid guidance, and he filed for the Place 2 seat. (Learn more about Tere McCann.)

Place 7 is an open seat, and the two candidates are Pauline Law and Eric Pav. Pav claims to be a Republican voter, but his statements regarding the district have been nothing short of disappointing. Back on September 6, he opined on Facebook,
“I continue to be impressed with how the administration has been able to stretch the approved bond funds and provide additional dollars to address high priority needs across the district without requiring additional immediate asks from the taxpayer.

Huh? I’m not sure if Mr. Pav was just unaware of the RRISD Board’s plan to raise taxes this year (public since last July,) or if he was just blowing campaign smoke. Surely he was aware that the district is putting together a new bond package for much-needed new facilities? After all, he is a member of the RRISD bond oversight committee. Did he think the $25 million campus for the 100 or so students enrolled in the at-risk (for dropping out) program was a high priority need? Parents of students at increasingly over-crowded schools might beg to differ.

Voters have been waiting to see if Pav will show leadership in taking the board in a new direction, but thus far he has only affirmed the current administration and doesn’t seem to think any mistakes have been made at all. At a candidate forum last week, Pav was very hostile to questions about the problems of the district, and attendees noted that he often “raised his voice” and seemed very angry. At last night’s PTA forum (his wife is a member of the board,) he was much calmer and more in control of his emotions, but his “everything is fine” narrative had not changed.

Also running for Place 7 is Pauline Law, a Round Rock businesswoman with two children in the district. Law became concerned when the Superintendent was telling anyone who would listen that his district would be devastated by any state budget cuts (remember those threatened teacher lay-offs?) She then began to go over the RRISD budget line by line. After spending hours on the phone with the administration and superintendent analyzing the budget, Law saw that something needed to be done and rather than sit around complaining, she decided to run herself.

Law has lived in Round Rock for several years, and the old Round Rock ‘establishment’ has been terribly, terribly offended that someone new to the area would dare to run for office in their town. A whisper campaign has been launched, and I’ve been privy to several indignant conversations over “that woman.” I can only roll my eyes in frustration; what did they expect considering the events of the past few years? That parents will just roll over and play dead?  Law is a concerned parent who wants to get the district back on track, and no-one needs to be personally offended by this.  And considering that Eric Pav has all but stated he will be rubber-stamping the current administration, it’s no surprise that voters are disappointed in him as a candidate.

Just for the record, neither Pauline Law nor Eric Pav is a native Texan, but leave the ropes at home and just check out the candidates for yourselves. Here are their respective websites or Facebook pages as the case may be

Tere McCann
Pauline Law

Facebook Pages:  (These candidates don't seem to have websites.)
Chad Chadwell
Eric Pav

When you go to the polls to vote for President, Senator, Judges, State Senator, State Representative, etc., be sure to check out those contests at the bottom of the ticket. A straight-ticket vote won’t check those boxes, so please exercise due diligence.

Election Day Polling Locations for Williamson County here, and Travis County here.


Mom of 3 said...

Bravo Holly, you nailed it. The problem has been and continues to be the current administration and his rubber-stamping board-oh wait-that SHOULD be OUR board. I hope that everyone will realize that the current majority of this board MUST be replaced by citizens who are willing to look at all sides of an issue, who will hold themselves and the superintendent accountable for statements and actions and put a stop to this back-room agreements and rubber-stamp mentality that has permeated the board room. It HAS to stop!

Matt Fowler said...

This is a solid assessment of the candidates. Law and McCann offer a refreshing view of accountability and fiscal conservatism as compared to the current Status Quo RRISD school board. They have my vote.

phoenix_talons said...

Where was Pauline Low born?