Red Oak ISD School Board Candidate Forum 10/8/2020
On October 8, 2020 the Red Oak Area Chamber along with the Red Oak ISD PTAs hosted a candidate forum for the ROISD Candidates. The Chamber asked the candidates questions and gave their opponents an opportunity to respond. This is a recap from the Chamber’s candidate forum, we encourage you to watch the forum in its entirety to stay informed.
Clint Woodward, Red Oak Area Chamber President and CEO was the moderator of the forum. Mr. Woodward said they chose a group of questions from the Texas PTA sample questionnaire. Candidates were given a 2 minute timeframe for response, and opponents had 1 minute for rebuttal.
Before the question portion each candidate was given the opportunity to introduce themselves.
Red Oak ISD School Board Place 3 candidate John Anderson is the current Board President and is running unopposed. In Place 4, Johnny Knight is a current school board member and is also running unopposed. Place 5 has three candidates the incumbent Penny Story, candidate Clifford Wherley and candidate Sean Kelly. Place 6 is currently vacant with four candidates running: Donna Reiszner, Michelle Porter, Sherelle Shaw and Margo L. Spencer.
ROISD Place 5 Candidate Introductions
Clifford Wherley introduction comments: I’ve been married for 18 years, and we have three sons. We’ve lived in Red Oak for the last 15 years and love the school district and community. I’m a graduate of Cedar Valley College with my Associates Degree, Bachelor’s from Tarleton State and in December will have completed my Masters in Criminal Justice from Tarleton. Mr. Wherley has been the Chief of Police for Lancaster ISD since May of 2018.
Penny Story intro comments: I’ve been on the board for 1 year, and I’m excited about what we’ve accomplished this year and look forward to continuing our good progress. I’ve lived in Red Oak for seven years and it’s a great town. I’m looking forward to helping students become the future of America, being on the board is a big and exciting responsibility.
Sean Kelly intro comments: I’m a 35 year resident of Red Oak. A Red Oak graduate Class of ’94, and I’ve been married 22 years with two daughters (one in middle school and one in high school), both are enrolled in ROISD. I’ve been a fireman for a little over 20 years, currently serving as a fireman/paramedic. I attended Cedar Valley and Navarro College and Northwood University. I look forward to the opportunity to serve. I’ve served the community as a fireman and a paramedic and for me the opportunity to be a part of the district is a humbling experience.
ROISD Place 5 Candidate Questions and Answers
QUESTION 1 For Clifford Wherley: ROISD has had to monitor programs, manage staffing and has been unable to make all needed upgrades and refurbish its facilities due to inadequate funding. As a school board member what action, if any, would you take to adequately fund our schools? Specifically would you support accepting federal funding?
Mr. Wherley: I believe grants can be, as long as stipulations aren’t horrible, can be a great benefit. The Police Department has used numerous grants over the years to make upgrades to our current systems. So whatever we can do to save our taxpayers some money.
Ms. Story response: Actually this district is not in dire need of money due to the sale of the empty school building that had been empty for seven years. This district had an infusion of $2.8 million dollars that is a blessing. We are very frugal with our money and are not in extreme debt. So at this time, I don’t believe we’re in dire need and federal funds always come with lots of strings.
Mr. Kelly response: For me, this is always going to be an ongoing process, even if we have an abundance of money. If there’s an opportunity for funds then I am for it depending on the stipulations, I’m not against federal money. As long as we’re responsible and stay informed, if it makes the district better I am for it.
QUESTION 2 for Penny Story:What is the appropriate relationship between the Red Oak ISD governing board and site based decision making committee?
Ms. Story: I think it’s always wise to listen to the community and we should definitely hear everything the community brings to us.
Mr. Kelly: I do believe in site based committees. I think they represent the community well, and gives us the opportunity to get insight from the community. Communication and transparency is always the key.
Mr. Wherley: I agree site based committees are great, but don’t believe board should be involved too much. We want to listen to what the community has to offer but not be a part of the committee.
QUESTION 5 for Wherley : What guidelines do you think should be adopted by ROISD in regards to bullying?
Mr. Wherley: First and foremost bullying should be zero tolerance, anything & everything with bullying should be zero tolerance. As a board we should make sure its easy to report bullying. Over the last few years statistically the number of bullying incidents have gone down now that laws are put into place. The Texas School Safety Center has numerous educational programs that address bullying and help make it easier to implement programs throughout the district.
Ms. Story: As far as bullying, Red Oak ISD is really not experiencing a major problem with bullying. I think that’s because of the very positive attitude, the excellent interaction with administration and student and families. Not a major issue and we don’t expect it to be.
Mr. Kelly: The district already has a policy that I agree with, the policy in place follows the chain of command. The board recently adopted some new programs that will bring even more awareness and education on bullying. I believe the district has done a really good job and I support the program we have.
QUESTION for Mr. Kelly: How important are fine arts and extracurricular activities such as athletics to a total overall education and how should they be funded?
Mr. Kelly: I am a big proponent of extracurricular activities. I believe many lessons are taught on the field, or on the stage or in the hallway and it helps them build confidence and keeps them motivated in the classroom. It teaches us both how to win and to lose. It’s a goal to build a well balanced kid, learning how to win and lose and be gracious in defeat are life lessons. These activities are important and give our students the opportunity to grow. I think our district provides opportunities to all students inside the classroom and out.
Mr. Wherley: I believe extra curricular activities and fine arts are vitally important for how much they teach our students whether it be how to win, how to lose, or how to work together. They are vitally important and not just athletics but also the band, the choir, they teach the camaraderie and social and emotional needs that kids need. Its probably even more important right now due to the pandemic.
Ms. Story: Extracurricular activities are very individual and each of our students is an individual. So those that can participate should definitely have the opportunity. We should definitely focus on education because not all students to choose to participate in extracurricular activities. It does encourage children and create some fun. Academics should be funded first, extracurricular activities funded second.
After Place 5 candidates answered all of the questions, the Place 6 candidates answered their questions. This was followed by closing statements from each candidate. We did not publish all questions and answers from the forum and encourage you to watch the recording to learn more. Also, we did our best to transcribe the candidates answers, however they are not exactly word for word. Again, for the entire forum and to hear the candidates inflections, etc. please watch the video recording.