Focus Daily News sent the following questions to ALL candidates running for Midlothian ISD School Board. We do not edit the answers in any way and publish them exactly as they were submitted to us.
Midlothian ISD School Board Place 4 Candidate: Whitney Krupala
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.
My husband Cody and I moved to Midlothian in 2008. We have 4 kids and 3 of them are students at Dolores McClatchey Elementary. I am a member of the CTE Advisory Board at The MILE and currently serve as a mentor to entrepreneurship students. I am a registered nurse and occasionally serve as a substitute nurse in MISD. I am also the Treasurer for the Board of Directors for The Midlothian Chamber of Commerce. I also must use this platform to brag on my oldest son whose Destination Imagination team recently advanced to the global competition. Way to go, Ramen Noodle Robbers!
What is your vision for education in our district/community? More financial investment, expanding academic programs like JROTC & CTE, be specific.
If elected as the Place 4 trustee, my vision and my efforts will be focused on serving the needs of our students, staff, and community. My priorities for our district include providing a safe learning environment that meets the academic need of all students, hiring and retaining the most qualified staff, advocating for district facilities that meet the needs of our community, and expanding our career and technical programs.
What does advocacy mean to you and how will you advocate for the students & teachers?
In my opinion, advocacy means doing what’s best for kids always! Being an effective advocate for our students and staff starts with proactively listening to the needs of these groups. Because of my past and current involvement with MISD and the Midlothian community, I have already started having some of these important conversations. Additionally, advocacy means framing all board decisions with the wellbeing of our students and staff at the forefront. Advocating for the best interests of our students, staff, and taxpayers is one of the most important roles of a Board Trustee and I look forward to the responsibility!
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?
I have had several conversations with teachers and staff from MISD and there are a few common themes that I noticed: more competitive pay, better comprehensive benefits including TRS reform, increased planning time, pressure from standardized testing, and lack of parental and community support. Although the scope of the Board of Trustees makes it difficult to address all the issues, it is important to elevate the collective voice of our teachers and make appropriate changes where we have the most influence – more competitive pay and lack of community and parental support.
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.
In my opinion, honoring the MISD taxpayer means being a good steward of district funds while also providing the staff, tools, curriculum, and facilities needed to support our growing student population. The MISD Board of Trustees has lowered the tax rate for the last 3 years in a row due to exponentially rising home values (as required by law).
As an MISD taxpayer, I want to keep our taxes as low as possible and I believe that is the goal of all MISD trustees; however, as a board we must always balance keeping tax rates low, but not at the expense of providing for a thorough and robust academic learning experience for our students. Additionally, we must protect the fund balance by using it only for emergency expenses and certain capital expenditures as warranted. If elected, I will continue to champion the effort of lowering our tax rate as much as possible, while also being focused on being a good steward of district funds.
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?
I believe that equity and equality can coexist in our public schools, and both have positive impacts on student achievement. Where equality measures the sameness of opportunity, equity addresses the fairness of opportunity and the fact of the matter is, we must abandon the idea that all students come to school with the exact same life experiences and ability to learn. We must identify and serve special populations of students who require differentiated instruction (equitable access to curriculum) in order to be successful.
For example, giving every student in MISD a device to use at home (iPad, ChromeBook) demonstrates equality of opportunity but it does not address equity of resources, especially since there are students who do not have internet access at home. This is just one scenario that demonstrates that both equality and equity are an important part of the educational environment.
Do you agree with how the District responded to the Covid-19 Pandemic and if not, what would you have done differently?
I don’t necessarily agree with everything that MISD did during the COVID-19 pandemic, but I also recognize and value that our Board did the best that they could with the information that was available to them. It was a learning period for everyone!
It is my fundamental belief that parents should have the ultimate authority for deciding what is best for their student, including whether their student wears a mask to school or receives any vaccination; therefore, I did not agree with our district’s decision to require masks for students and teachers.
What do you plan to do to address training at the campus levels to make sure IEP and or 504s are implemented?
I would like to receive an overview of our 504 assessment procedures to understand how they are applied and how504/IEP’s are implemented, monitored, and adjusted as needed. Only then would I feel ready to discuss as a board, with our administration, best practices and where there might be needed improvements. Meeting the needs of our special education students is a top priority for me and I am committed to ensuring that these students and their teachers receive the support and funding that they need to be successful.
What are your views on banning certain books from classrooms and libraries? What in your opinion, makes a book “okay” to ban?
I believe that students should not have any access to books with pornographic or obscene material or any content that is not age level appropriate. I believe that parents should have the right to review any materials that will be used as part of the student curriculum, including library books. I will support any policy that keeps our learning environment safe for all students.
How do you rank social emotional learning in the school board priorities, especially considering struggles due to covid?
Considering the events of 2020 and beyond, I believe that social emotional learning is an important part of educating the whole child; however, I do not believe that SEL should be elevated above any core subject and should be used only as a supplement to rigorous academic instruction. Even though SEL and CRT have been inextricably linked in recent months, I believe that they are two independent concepts. I am adamantly opposed to CRT and any of its related philosophies.
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?
I believe that politics should be insignificant in the role of the school board trustee. Because students (who do not identify as R or D) are our most important constituent, partisan politics should have no place in public education.
When we can provide a high-quality educational experience to all students, hire and retain the best staff, and build adequate facilities to accommodate our growing community – maybe then we can talk politics. But, for now I will continue to be a conservative voice who always champions what’s in the best interest of kids.
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.
I would describe my leadership style as transformational. I am a strong believer that change occurs when leaders can build consensus around a common mission, vision, and goal so that even when there are disagreements within the organization, the objectives remain clear.
As the owner and operator of a local business that cares for senior adults in their homes, I have had several experiences to use my leadership style in order to cause positive change within my organization. Often, the families that we serve are in crisis mode and caring for an aging and sick loved one. As the leader of the care team, it is my role to assess the needs of the client and their family, determine an appropriate plan of care, and oversee the execution of this plan in order to improve the quality of life for our client.
In doing this, it is my responsibility to work with the client, their family, and our caregiver to establish common ground so that we can work as a team to meet the client care goals. For my part, I must be willing to listen to the needs of each stakeholder and assimilate how we can meet those needs while keeping the wellbeing of the client at the forefront.
If there’s anything you’d like to add please do so.
One of the tenets of my campaign has been a commitment to always doing “what’s best for kids.” I want what’s best for my kids and yours.
There have been quite a few people who have asked the question, “Whitney, what do you believe is best for kids?” So, here’s my answer.
What’s best for kids is a learning environment that is safe.
What’s best for kids is an academic curriculum that is curated to meet the needs of the student.
What’s best for kids is a community where parents are informed and engaged.
What’s best for kids is teachers and staff who feel valued, supported, and appropriately compensated.
What’s best for kids is facilities that allow for growth AND fiscal responsibility.
What’s best for kids is a board of trustees that commits to doing what’s best for kids.
Krupala for kids…for every student, for every teacher, for every classroom!
For additional information see the Whitney Krupala campaign website.
Early voting begins April 25. Election Day is May 7, 2022.