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School Board Elections: Alamo Heights ISD

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Note: Names are listed in order of appearance on the ballot according to the city clerks' office. Answers from candidates have not been edited or fact-checked.

For TPR's full Voter Guide, click here.


Clay Page: Place No. 5

Did not respond.*

Elissa Sangster: Place No. 5

What is your current or most recent occupation?

CEO, Forte Foundation

What grade on an A-F scale would you give your district’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Why?

A, It was a tough year for everyone, but many of AHISD's students and teachers were able to return to campus for live instruction sooner than most schools around Texas. They were also able to provide a quality experience for students who chose online instruction. Our administrators and teachers worked tirelessly all summer to prepare for the students' return. They thought about creative ways to engage students virtually. They considered equity and made accommodations by rolling out a technology plan that virtually eliminated the "digital divide" other districts faced. They considered the well being of our students and made sure that those on free and reduced lunch were able to pick up or have delivered meals. As a smaller, more nimble district we were also able to introduce safety protocols like contact tracing and free asymptomatic testing that other districts were unable to provide.

Do you think your district is doing a good job educating its students? Why or why not? What could it be doing better?

Yes, I think AHISD is doing a good job educating its students. As a district, we've taken bold steps in outlining what we want our students to learn during their K-12 experience. As a community we've built two key platforms for defining our expectations. The Profile of a Learner clearly states that we want our children to seek knowledge and understanding and also to think critically and creatively. These are foundational to each campuses learning goals and the teachers build their classroom outcomes based on this platform. Additionally, we've layered on top of the Profile the Community Based Accountability System (CBAS) that carefully tracks our students learning, progress and readiness. We want engaged, well-rounded students who also care about engaging with their community. Hiring top quality educators and giving them the professional resources they need to grow is also fundamental to our district's philosophy.

How can we do better? There are always opportunities for improvement. Three particular areas highlighted in our CBAS are 1) the achievement gap on standardized tests between racial groups where economic status may be a factor. 2) Enrollment in advanced courses like Pre-AP and AP courses where we aren't seeing alignment across the profile of students requesting enrollment, especially from students identifying as economically disadvantaged. and 3) Improving college, career, and military readiness--we would like to see improvement on AP, dual credit, and industry certifications.

Do you think your district treats its teachers, principals and support personnel well? Why or why not?

Yes, I think our district treats them well and I think our community is very supportive of our campus educators and staff. Much like other districts, our ability to pay the salaries we would like can be challenging, but what makes our district unique is the huge amount of community support to fill any gaps left behind by budget shortfalls.

One of the school board’s primary responsibilities is to approve a budget. What experience do you have making financial decisions? How would you / do you decide whether or not to approve the budget recommended to you by district administration?

I am a CEO of a $5 million non-profit. I've been in this role for 16 years and have grown the organization from an annual operating budget of $200K to $5.2 million this year. My primary role as the CEO is to raise funds and oversee the financial operations of the organization. I have a masters degree in business.

What is your stance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests?

I think standardized tests are forever under scrutiny and an irritation for many including students, teachers, administrators, and legislators. I think they serve a purpose and they are good tracking mechanisms especially when you are trying to synthesize and interpret data across a very large state made up of very distinct school districts. I'm proud of how our district integrates the STAAR test into it's overall philosophy but does not focus on it as the only key metric for success. Education of our students is far too important to be boiled down into one data point.

What is your stance on charter schools?

I'm pro public education. I understand the unique benefits brought by charter schools, but my concern is how they select students, how they monitor progress, and how they qualify educators.


Lisa Krenger: Place No. 6

Candidate ran unopposed; declared elected.


Travis E. Wiltshire: Place No. 7

What is your current or most recent occupation?

CNG Engineering - Owner/Principal/Licensed Engineer

What grade on an A-F scale would you give your district’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. Why?

B+ - Our Board and Superintendent did an admirable job managing the emotions of parents, the lack of direction provided by the State, and the clinical data obtained from the CDC and MetroHealth to make their decisions. We ended up with a hybrid system that probably created a roadmap for other school districts to follow. The benefit of being a small district with an involved community, allowed us to have an agile response as new information presented itself. We smartly and safely delayed opening school in the Fall. The District invested more than $1million in COVID-related expenses to improve safety and hire extra staff. Our areas of improvement could have been better communication with the teachers/support staff, slower transition from virtual to "full" student capacity, more equitable learning between virtual & in person learning, prioritizing SPED students and those students' whose parents are front-line workers, and providing more opportunities to employees for childcare assistance.

Do you think your district is doing a good job educating its students? Why or why not? What could it be doing better?

Most people who choose Alamo Heights make their decision based on our excellent schools. Our achievement numbers are exceptional compared to other Texas school districts. However, we should always thrive to improve. Would you continue to use an IPhone 1 if you could have an IPhone 12? It is about "continuous improvement". One way to achieve this is to continue to recruit and retain high quality teachers. We also want to focus on our District of Innovation Plan in which one of the goals is to ensure "every" student in our community has access to the resources they need to be successful.

Do you think your district treats its teachers, principals and support personnel well? Why or why not?

Alamo Heights has an overall reputation of supporting its' entire staff, however we also need to recognize when our "frontline" workers' needs are not being met. Most recently, Alamo Heights teachers chartered a union this past year in response to concerns about educating during the pandemic. I feel this is an opportunity for the Superintendent and the Board to ensure we have our pulse on what is really happening within the schools by meeting with the Union to understand their needs.

One of the school board’s primary responsibilities is to approve a budget. What experience do you have making financial decisions? How would you / do you decide whether or not to approve the budget recommended to you by district administration?

I have owned and managed a successful business for the last 16 years. In additional to my own business, I have had fiduciary responsibilities as a Board member for various Civic, non-profit, & financial organizations such as the North SA Chamber of Commerce, ACE Mentoring, Professional Engineers in Private Private, and AHFSH Soccer just to name a few. Thus, I understand and am very experienced at approving budgets presented to the Board.

What is your stance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests?

As a tool for assessment of progress, the STAAR tests can generally work; however this is not the time (ie: COVID-19) for tracking progress and then having it tied to the A-F grading of schools. I believe the regular beginning, middle and end of the year assessments will be a more informative tool. Also, the cost to administer the test is too much to bear when the State of Texas is already undergoing its' own financial crisis due to the pandemic and severe weather catastrophes of 2020/2021. In addition, TEA has recently demonstrated an inability to make tests reliably available (when it shut down) to schools. Thus, this may be good time to consider the objectives of having this particular testing system in place and is there a better tool for accountability and support of schools. Currently, true learning is suffering due to teachers "teaching for the test". This concern, along with stress and depression levels for students on the rise due to added pressure to excel on these tests, is a cause for re-evaluation of its effectiveness.

What is your stance on charter schools?

In theory, I have no problem providing parents and students with options for obtaining an education that meets their individual needs. However, the adverse way in which funding and oversight of school choice options affect public schools would need to improve. The State's current financial model for funding schools has created an adversarial dynamic between public and charter schools.

Alamo Heights is an exemplary public school and has the ability to innovate in ways not all charter schools can ( ie: competitive sports, extensive AP programs, fine arts) which makes it a good choice for many families. As a public school parent and potential board member, I will continue to advocate to the State for equitable funding and accountability for all schools.

Carey Watson Hildebrand: Place No. 7

Did not respond.*


* denotes candidates who did not respond to survey requests sent via email and/or phone calls by time of publication.

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