Election season is here with public debates and endorsement interviews in full swing. As a tax funded entity, Galveston ISD cannot endorse anyone running for office. That does not stop the more than 1,000 district employees and thousands of parents from voting for candidates that have their best interests at heart.

These are some of the questions to ask if you’re a supporter of local schools.

How much does the candidate know about the local schools? When was the last time they visited or toured a campus? If they are the incumbent, what have they done to help schools? If they are running for a seat, what is their plan to help during their term?

Many consider schools of the cornerstone of the community, and Galveston is no different. Schools are still a major factor in moving to the island. As a member of the Galveston Chamber of Commerce endorsement interview process for state representative, county judge and county commissioner of Precinct 2, I had the opportunity to hear the vision of candidates for Galveston and Galveston County.

Many responses from the candidates centered on economic development as the answer to making Galveston an even better place to live and work. One area sorely lacking among many candidates was knowledge about the schools, where students are being groomed to fill jobs that many foresee being created on Galveston and Pelican islands. It’s a major issue when the future leaders in government are pushing for even more jobs in the area, but don’t know what is happening in local schools that will ultimately lead to these positions being filled and attracting these students to stay or move to the area.

No one knows better where future generations are headed than school administrations. It is encouraged that candidates take the time to talk to school leaders. Take it one step further, and tour schools to get a better understanding of what challenges a district faces, especially in the age when the budget for public schools in Texas is one of the worst in the nation per pupil. An understanding of the financial inequalities of the Robin Hood system is also important as we move forward in government.

Candidates need to keep in mind votes come from parents, teachers, school administrators and staff. Those who value the importance of local schools, know about the many different and excellent programs they have to offer, and have a broad understanding about the problems with current school finance will be in a good place to help many. Those who will fight to attract families to the area will have also have a serious leg up in their election campaign.

We’re getting close to debates among Galveston mayoral and city council candidates. Those who are elected will be in positions of power to make a positive impact on Galveston Island, directly and indirectly effecting Galveston schools. They will be the spokespersons for so much more than running an efficient and productive government. They will be voices for our local children and their future.

Johnston Farrow is the communications specialist for Galveston ISD.

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