Focus Daily News sent the following questions to ALL candidates running for DeSoto ISD School Board. We do not edit the answers in any way and publish them exactly as they were submitted to us.
DeSoto ISD School Board Place 1 Candidate Rickyl’ Wesson
Please provide a high-level overview of your past engagement/experiences, and those of your children, with regards to the school district for which you are running for school board trustee.
As a math educator, I have taught many scholars who have transferred and attended DeSoto schools and graduated. I have also provided STAAR tutorials to many scholars in DeSoto ISD. Most recently, I have volunteered my time with the HAVOC Sports Organization, which is based in DeSoto, as a parent as well as a Coach for the 4U Soccer team.
What is your vision for education in our district/community? More financial investment, expanding academic programs like JROTC & CTE, be specific.
DeSoto has the potential to be the leading district in academics, athletics, band, Fine Arts, JROTC and CTE. As a board member, I will support policies and budgets that make adequate investments into our scholars’ educational experiences and programs. The vision is to provide quality programs that parents can be proud of and be assured we are preparing their scholar to compete locally as well as globally.
What does advocacy mean to you and how will you advocate for the students & teachers?
Advocacy means to stand up for what you believe in, even if it means you are standing alone. I will fully advocate for our district. It would be my responsibility to be the voice for the scholars, teachers, and parents locally and in Austin, at the federal level. There should be major investments in teacher pay at the state and federal levels. We must have quality educators in the classrooms in order to provide our scholars with exemplary education. As a parent and as a board member, I want to see our district be the best inside and outside the classroom.
In such a competitive marketplace, how will you tackle teacher and staff recruitment and retention? Have you spoken with teachers in the district about their concerns/challenges and do you feel like they are being heard?
It is time for action. We have been discussing teacher recruitment and retention for many years with no real substance in pay increases to support the efforts. At a time when we are losing good teachers due to the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to double our efforts and not settle for anything but real results. As a former teacher and now administrator, in constant communication with teachers, I fully understand the critical situations the teachers are facing. It is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees and administration to do what is necessary to bring about positive change in staff recruitment and retention. It is time to increase the moral, incentives, compensation, trainings, and support. The parents and scholars are depending on us to make it happen.
When dealing with school finances, approving a budget and set tax rates, how do you honor the taxpayer as you consider district’s fund balance?
Approving the budget and setting the tax rate is a very important function of the board. The process should be open and transparent. Input and feedback should be seriously considered from parents, scholars, teachers, and community stakeholders. We represent the parents, who are taxpayers, so we should listen to their concerns and invest wisely in their children’s education. We must be good stewards of the taxpayers’ money.
What is your stance on Equity in Education? In addition to the role of the DEI, what additional steps should be taken to meet the needs of EVERY Student in this District?
Equity and education is a non-negotiable. Board members must support policies that meet the needs of all scholars. All educational programs, extra-curricular, co-curricular, student clubs, and organizations should be adequately funded and given equitable attention. There is no room for inequality.
Do you agree with how the District responded to the Covid-19 Pandemic and if not, what would you have done differently?
I am looking forward. This is not a time to look back. Given the information we know now, we have the tools to move forward in a positive manner. It is important for us to acknowledge the needs of our scholars, parents, teachers, community stakeholders and local businesses. We must work diligently to close any academic gaps and provide a quality education. As a DeSoto Board Member, I want to see this happen for all scholars in the district. Teachers, scholars, and parents are experiencing real challenges. We must be mindful of these challenges as board members, and support efforts to improve and make things better for everyone.
What do you plan to do to address training at the campus levels to make sure IEP and or 504s are implemented?
As I stated above, equity in education is non-negotiable. We must meet the needs of all scholars. It is the job of the campus administration to manage and hold individuals who are not meeting the needs of scholars who have IEPs and identified under 504, accountable. As a board member, I will support personnel recommendations that will ensure the best educational experiences, support for our scholars, and academic improvements throughout the district.
What are your views on banning certain books from classrooms and libraries? What in your opinion, makes a book “okay” to ban?
My position as a board member is to support the approval of a budget that will supply our school libraries with the resources they need to create a rich learning environment. The library is an important place for exploration and learning. Our focus should be on providing adequate resources and funding for our libraries and making sure they have the latest technologies to support 21st Century learning and global competition.
How do you rank social emotional learning in the school board priorities, especially considering struggles due to covid?
Social Emotional Learning is a top priority. We must take care of the whole child. Scholars respond better in a supportive, safe environment that is filled with love and respect. I will support policies and campus implementations that ensure the support of our scholars, teachers, and families.
Our country has recently seen a movement to introduce politics into every facet of society, including public education and school board campaigns and operations, which have traditionally been non-partisan. What role, if any, do you believe politics plays in the role of a school board trustee?
As a board member, I will keep my focus on providing the best for our scholars, teachers, parents, and community stakeholders. It would be my job to remove as much politics out of the way of the teachers, so they can focus on teaching and scholar learning. I will focus on my duties as a board member to support good policies and approve budgets and expenditures that are aligned with the vision and goals of the district. I believe this is what parents want. Parents want to go to work, concentrate on running their businesses, and taking care of their families. We must keep the politics out and focus on scholar success.
School board trustees are elected to be leaders and to handle what can be difficult decisions at times. Please describe your leadership style-provide an example.
My leadership style is to listen, gather facts, and make decisions I know are in the best interest of the district. As a single mother and campus administrator, I make difficult decisions often. Whether its determining the environment to place my child in, or how to adjust my campus protocols during the pandemic. It is important to be objective, use common sense, be deliberative, and get to the truth. Firm, fair and consistent always gets buy-in and results.
You can learn more about Rickyl Wesson on her campaign website.
Early voting begins April 25 and election day is May 7, 2022.