Q&A Shari Dawson Midlothian ISD School Board Candidate Place 7

Shari Dawson headshot
Photo credit Shari Dawson for MISD School Board Place 7 Facebook

Why are you running for school board, and what are your qualifications?

As an educator who started my teaching career in Midlothian ISD, I believe that
every student deserves a quality education, where first and foremost, their
learning needs are met. In addition, they should have access to the best and
brightest teachers in the state of Texas. Teachers deserve to be supported and
appreciated, which will enhance creativity, improve retention, and raise student
outcomes. A positive district climate is critical to achieving success for everyone.

As a Board Trustee, I will work diligently to influence positive outcomes in our
district and bring a teacher & educator’s perspective to the school board. I am the
only candidate with both business experience and extensive expertise in education
from the campus level to the state level. I’m dedicated to making fiscally
conservative decisions for our community.

Have you received any donations or endorsements from any group(s)? If so, which groups?


Is there a specific issue that motivates you to serve on the school board? If so, please identify the issue and your concerns.

Teacher and staff morale across the nation is at an all-time low. Staff who feel valued
and supported typically stay and those who don’t tend to find other work. I have an
awful lot of respect for educators and have devoted most of my career to supporting
those educators. It costs a school district an average of $8,000-$10,000 when a
classroom teacher resigns. Our district can’t afford to let this happen. I want to be a
catalyst for change and an advocate for both teachers and students.

In what school district or community activities/organizations have you been involved?

During my employment in Midlothian, I served on the District Finance, Campus House
Bill 5 & District of Innovation Committees. I also successfully wrote and received
several grants through the Midlothian Education Foundation.

What attributes and behaviors are essential for school board members?

School board members should be professional, willing to listen more than they speak,
motivated to make decisions based on the best interest of all stakeholders. They
should be collaborative as well as open minded and flexible. School board members
who are approachable and know how to work as a team (in coordination with the
school district and the community) will have the most success in helping to maintain
an exemplar school community that extends beyond the physical walls of the school.

What is the public relations role of the board?

School boards have the responsibility to publish an end-of-year financial report for
distribution to the community. They also publish an annual report describing the
district’s performance, including campus performance objectives and the progress of
each campus toward those objectives. They should seek to establish working
relationships with other community entities to make effective use of resources offered
in the community in order to best serve the needs of public schools and the
community as well.

What is the best way to address differences of opinion on the board or between the board and the administration?

Mutual respect must exist between all parties to effectively address differences of
opinion. When difficult conversations arise, all parties should be active listeners, open
to considering each person’s viewpoint. If the board and the administration have
common goals that are created and agreed upon collaboratively, differences of
opinion are less frequent and more likely to be understood and settled with the best
interest of all stakeholders in mind.

In your view, what has the district done well over last five years?

The teachers in Midlothian ISD have gone through some extremely tough times in the
past 5 years. During the school shut down due to Covid, I was amazed at how resilient
the teachers were and how quickly they were able to pivot. They taught online and I
know they spent much time planning and preparing after teaching students
synchronously for the majority of the day. Teachers and staff transitioned back to the
classroom with ease, happy to be face-to-face with their students again and quickly
assessed to see how they could be strategic and intentional about finding gaps in
learning and addressing them quickly.

What has the district done poorly that you would change?

Communication with staff and parents could be improved. Overcommunication helps
build a positive culture where both staff, students and parents feel included while
ensuring everyone has heard and understand the message being shared. This is
especially important in times of change to make certain there is clarity in the

What should your school district do to better prepare students as citizens?

I believe our schools could do better at teaching kids how to live in real life after
graduation. Not every student has someone at home to teach them the basics needed
to survive and thrive in the world. Kids need to know how to change the oil in a car,
how to balance a bank account, how to file tax returns, how to change a tire, just to
name a few.

What do you see as the major issue(s) facing your school district?

Midlothian ISD is growing at a rapid rate, which requires an action plan for being
ready for the growth so the district can continue to provide a safe, engaging, and
rigorous learning environment.

What do you see as the major issue(s) facing Public education?

Teacher retention and recruitment, school finance, school choice, and school safety
are just a few major issues facing public education.

What is your view of school choice?

I’m thankful that parents currently have the choice of where their child/children
attend school through public schools, charter schools, home schools, virtual and
private schools. I am concerned that vouchers will eliminate public accountability.
Voucher programs would reduce the state funds available for all schools, effecting
some small communities where private schools may not be available.

What are the district’s greatest capital needs right now?

Midlothian elementary schools are predicted to be at full capacity in 2 years, resulting
in the need for 2 additional elementary schools.

How do you think those needs should be addressed?

Proposition A in the current bond election includes the following:
2 new elementary schools
Career & Technical Education Center
Land Acquistion
Midlothian HS Addition/Renovation
Frank Seale MS Renovation
Mt. Peak ES Addition/Renovation
Longbranch ES Addition/Renovation
J.A. Vitosky EA Addition/Renovation
Transportation Facility Addition
Ag Barn Addition

As a board member, where would you look to make budget cuts?

I would need to determine what portion of the budget is discretionary spending.
Following this, I would do further research to specify if and where cuts could be made
without adversely affecting student outcomes.

What changes should be made on the state and local level regarding public education?

School districts like Midlothian need state support/funding to raise salaries of
educators. Midlothian currently spends 70.26% of their annual budget on salaries and
benefits and needs state support. The national average cost for a school district to lose
a teacher is anywhere between $8,000-$20,000. Public school educators need to feel
valued, appreciated, respected and protected.

What specific steps would you take as a school board member to improve transparency and make schooldistrict information more widely available?

As a parent and a candidate I have been able to get everything I’ve needed or wanted
through attending or watching school board meetings online, searching the district
website, and know that if needed I could always fill out a public information request
form to attain information I need.