Midlothian Parks & Schools Take Center Stage
Midlothian- Tuesday, June 2, will kick off a remarkably busy time in Midlothian as leaders of both the city and school district governing bodies begin planning for living in the city in future years. From 7 am until 8 am, the Midlothian ISD school board will be holding a workshop to hold a budget workshop . Then, at a 6 pm meeting, the City Council will discuss phase two of the design and development of the Midlothian Community Park program.
Then, between the next council meeting (June 9) and the next regularly scheduled school board meeting (June 17) the joint City/School Subcommittee will meet to discuss decisions needing to be made which affect all citizens. This special group consists of Mayor Richard Reno, Councilmen Justin Coffman and Mike Rogers and School Board President Matt Sanders and board members Andrea Walton and Tami Tobey.
Controversy Surrounds Tami Tobey
In news breaking at presstime, parents of Midlothian students received an email this morning from the President of the MISD School Board (Mr. Sanders) referencing an article with a photo of Board Member, Tami Tobey, published by the Dallas Observer. The photo shows Tobey at a Halloween party in 2012, wearing blackface as part of her costume. Tobey and another woman were dressed as tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams.
Ms. Tobey responded “There are truly no words that can come close to expressing the remorse I have for my actions. So let me begin with the only words I have. I’m sorry. I love this community and everyone in it. Regardless of my intent at the time, I now understand my choice in Halloween costume was insensitive. After being contacted about these photos on Thursday, I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on how this affects others. I’ve spoken with local African-American leaders, educated myself on the disturbing history of blackface, and considered how I can help bring about positive change.”
She continued, “I truly regret my lack of awareness at the time. I would never knowingly do anything that could be hurtful or divisive. As a leader in our school district, it has always been my goal to be a voice for every family in our community, and it pains me to know that I’ve done something that hurts families who look for me to be that voice.”
“Moving forward, I commit to listening more, continuing to educate myself, learning from my mistakes, and using it all to do better, whether through my position on the school board, my personal relationships, or any other way I serve my community in order to promote unity and understanding, not division.”
“I am open to continuing this conversation in a respectful and constructive manner but I recognize that social media is not always the best outlet for that. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com and I will respond as quickly as I can.”
In response to this situation, Ms. Walton responded to Focus that these are her personal thoughts. She is not representing the board as a whole with her statement: “Tami is genuine and heartfelt. She has lived here a long time, pouring herself into this community. However, her actions were insensitive and she has humbly expressed her remorse. The goal is to work with parents in the community that are using this as a catalyst for change. The real truth is that we have work to do. We all have a seat at the table to own the necessary change.”
Andrea Walton, Justin Coffman Seek Community Input on Midlothian’s Future
The Covid-19 Pandemic has caused a lot of upheaval in all parts of community life. It has already touched citizens in far more ways than by attempting to Stay in Place at home. Many have found that wearing masks, learning how to work from home, shop remotely and teach children using virtual learning methods have presented an entire new arena of challenges.
Imagine not only having to look at being able to manage all aspects of your own personal life, but also having to figure out how to run a multi-million-dollar organization remotely. In looking forward, Midlothian Councilman Justin Coffman and MISD Trustee Andrea Walton agreed to discuss some of the decisions that will be facing both bodies in coming weeks with Focus Daily News. Ms. Walton related that she was just one member of the board, and could not speak for the entire board nor the district, but would be happy to provide her perspective. Mr. Coffman added that he was doing the same in regards to the city and the council.
They emphasized that both governing bodies will be looking to enthusiastically receive input from citizens at the many planning meetings they will be having in coming weeks and months. “It is always about listening and learning,” both Mr. Coffman and Ms. Walton emphasized. “There is a great deal to be learned from experiencing diversity of thought as well as diversity in appearances and cultural backgrounds,” they added. “Collaboration gives us a lot of opportunity to share thoughts as well as save money for citizens.”
Hot Issues For City Include The Park Program
The Midlothian Community Park Program was passed as part of a bond issue on November 7, 2017. The overall parks and recreation improvements part of the bond issue was for a total of $16.1 million. Of that amount, two million has been spent on engineering and about $400,000 on dirt moving. Because inflation has caused a change in pricing since the issue was passed, costs have now been projected to come closer to $21 million. Only $14 million remains in the bond issue. Thus, decisions must be made as to how the desired improvements can be made with remaining funds.
Councilman Coffman reports the council understands this has become a very “hot” issue and citizen input is needed to make a decision on what is the best way to spend the remaining bond dollars. Residents are welcome to physically attend the meeting in council chambers to express thoughts on the best way to proceed. Depending on how many attend, they may need to wait and enter in small groups as space permits due to social distancing guidelines.
Coffman points out that residents can also participate online. The workshop will be live streamed Tuesday evening beginning at 6 pm. In order to listen and to participate, simply go to www.midlothian.tx.us/participate. There, they will be provided a Citizen Participation Form which they may fill out and submit electronically. All forms must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2.
There is a lot to be considered for both the city and the school district. In that regard, we will present a second article on this subject this coming Sunday – The Future of Midlothian, Taxes and Revenue – How they affect citizens and governments