Trustee candidates for Texas City Independent School District made a grab for votes on Tuesday with just weeks to go until the start of early voting.
The Texas City-La Marque Chamber of Commerce organized a forum at the Mall of the Mainland, and eight candidates shared their views on board finances, transparency and other issues troubling the schools.
Each candidate had six minutes to speak.
Texas City Independent School District
Candidates for the district’s two contested races homed in on last year’s annexation of La Marque Independent School District and said they would advocate for La Marque-area students.
Both seats up for grabs are in La Marque city limits. District 2’s boundaries are in La Marque and District 3 covers La Marque and west Texas City.
The election’s two contested races feature former La Marque school board members and a current appointee to the board.
Social worker Lois Henderson-Jones is running against Mable Pratt, the current appointee for District 2 on the Texas City school board. The District 2 seat is a two-year term.
Pratt served on the state-appointed board that helped the La Marque district transition through its closure. She was previously on the La Marque school board for about 18 years.
She was appointed by the Texas City school board in December to serve as the interim District 2 trustee until the election in May.
Pratt hopes to hold the superintendent accountable and help build a better relationship between the La Marque and Texas City sides of the newly redrawn district, she said.
“When elected to the board of trustees to work for the betterment of the students, I promise I’m going to do that — work for the betterment of the students,” Pratt said.
Henderson-Jones is a former social worker for La Marque and Clear Creek’s school districts. She recently came out of retirement and is working as a social worker in Santa Fe schools.
Henderson-Jones has had a passion for teaching since she was young, she said. Her main goals as trustee would be to better evaluate teachers and advocate for programs, such as vocational skills and gifted and talented programs.
The main challenge facing the district is a lack of unity between La Marque and Texas City, she said.
“What we need to do is unite, come together,” Henderson-Jones said. “The only thing that’s dividing us is our emotional wounds and our pride.”
Former La Marque school board president Nakisha Paul is up against David Rac for District 3, which is a seat with a three-year term. Rac served a term on the La Marque school board before losing to Paul in a highly contested race in 2011.
Paul said she doesn’t want students who were in the La Marque schools to lose the ground they already gained in bettering their education.
“One of our fears was that the annexation process would negate the progress we were already making,” she said. “Quite frankly, our rationale showed. Our strategies were paying off.”
Paul hopes to fairly distribute the budget among schools and be involved in the search and hiring of a new superintendent, she said. She also hopes to advocate for students in the Texas City area, she said.
“Why am I running for Texas City ISD board of trustees?” Paul said. “Pretty much for the same reasons we were concerned about the annexation, and to make sure that there’s a voice to try to raise standards and performance for all students.”
Rac most recently served on the board that helped with the transition to the Texas City district. He cited his financial experience, and said he wants to invest in better training for teachers, he said.
“I can really do a good job if I can get on the board and help the folks, because I do know a lot about school finance,” Rac said.
Test scores also are a big concern, especially for students who were formerly in La Marque’s district, he said.
“They didn’t close the district because it was doing well; they closed it because it was nowhere near where it was supposed to be,” Rac said. “We don’t want to get that way again. If you pick me as your candidate, you’re going to get somebody who’s not going to let that happen if he can help it.”
Incumbent Dickey Campbell will run unopposed. His name will appear on the ballot, but there will not be voting for the position because it’s uncontested. He did not speak at the forum.