Four hopefuls are campaigning for the Dallas ISD school board District 2 seat, which some describe as the doughnut around the Park Cities. (Clearly it’s an old-fashioned doughnut rather than Krispy Kreme-style round.)
This district hasn’t seen a contested school board race since 2002 when former trustee Jack Lowe beat out two others for the seat vacated by Roxan Staff. In many ways, the landscape has changed — in 2002 Dallas ISD still was bussing students under a desegregation order and was just beginning to allow teenagers bring their cell phones (and pagers!) onto campuses.
But the future District 2 trustee, like Lowe, will be part of decisions on spending more than $1 billion from a bond package taxpayers recently approved, what to do about the high number of DISD students who don’t make it past graduation (the concern then was dropouts; now it’s graduates who aren’t college- or career-ready) and how to navigate these types of issues amid a fractious board.
So who’s applying for this job? We’ve put together a cheat sheet on the candidates — Mita Havlick, Carlos Marroquin, Dustin Marshall and Suzanne Smith — with more race coverage to come on our 2016 Election page.
Stats: Stay-at-home mom with a physics degree and a background in IT; 48; lives in the M Streets with her husband and two children who started at Stonewall (DISD-zoned trajectory is Stonewall-Long-Woodrow) but now attend Travis, Dallas ISD’s talented and gifted magnet school for fourth- through eighth-graders
Cred: Havlick bills herself as “the parent’s choice” for the open board seat and is campaigning as someone who has been in the trenches. While on the Stonewall site-based decision making (SBDM) committee, she fought for facility funds, both for Stonewall and other schools, as the board examined and ultimately passed a “bridge financing plan” last spring.
Motives: Havlick entered the race near the filing deadline because she believes the district needs a representative who has children in public schools, and she believes she can be that voice.
Supporters: Not surprisingly, parents and teachers comprise most of Havlick’s endorsements. Recent Travis and Stonewall teachers of the year as well as the current Stonewall PTA president and SBDM chair are featured prominently in her list of supporters.
Top priorities: Finding and channeling more money into academic needs and facilities, which she believes are severely underfunded, and replicating the neighborhood school model that works so well at places like Lakewood and Stonewall
Stats: Dallas ISD substitute teacher who spent 14 years as a union area director; 44; lives in Cedar Springs with his wife and two children; DISD-zoned trajectory is Maple Lawn-Rusk-North Dallas but sends his children to Catholic schools St. Monica’s and Ursuline
Cred: Marroquin is a W.T. White High School alumnus with a family full of teachers, and he says his experience in classrooms at several Dallas ISD schools over the past year has helped him understand the testing and discipline issues that teachers deal with.
Motives: He wants to appeal to a different segment of District 2 residents who, like him, “get lost.”
Supporters: Marroquin has a Facebook page but not a campaign website, is his own campaign treasurer and describes his campaign as “grassroots.”
Top priorities: Better discipline approaches, longer contracts and better salaries for teachers, and shorter timeframes for Spanish speakers to transition to English
Stats: CEO of his family’s company, Hazel’s Hot Shot; 38; lives in Preston Hollow with his wife and four kids; DISD-zoned trajectory is Preston Hollow-Franklin-Hillcrest but sends his children to his alma mater, Greenhill, a private school
Cred: Marshall has spent the last five years since he returned to Dallas joining several education boards and councils. He most commonly mentions his roles on the Woodrow Wilson High School Community Foundation‘s board of directors and his chair-elect position on the board of Reading Partners, a nonprofit that pairs volunteer tutors with struggling readers.
Motives: Raised by a poor single mother who scraped to send him to Greenhill, Marshall recalls being keenly aware of the differences between his classmates’ lavish lifestyles and his own ramen-noodle survival. Education leveled the playing field and Marshall wants to provide the same opportunities for Dallas students who face similar obstacles.
Supporters: Marshall launched his campaign the day after former trustee Mike Morath stepped down to become the new Texas Education Agency commissioner, and he quickly worked to secure campaign donations and endorsements. By mid-January, he had accumulated more than $56,000 and the backing of Mayor Mike Rawlings along with Preston Hollow councilmembers Lee Kleinman and Jennifer Gates, conservative state representatives Jason Villaba and Ken Sheets, and a host of other names. He also received endorsements from education reform PACs Dallas Kids First and Educate Dallas.
Top priorities: Pre-k expansion and other data-driven education reforms that former Superintendent Mike Miles put into place and Morath championed
Stats: Owner/founder of consulting firm Social Impact Architects and adjunct professor at the University of North Texas; 39; an M Streets ex-pat who lives in Oak Lawn; single and if she had children they would be in the DISD-zoned trajectory of Milam-Rusk-North Dallas
Cred: Smith’s history of civic service began in her 20s when former East Dallas councilwoman Veletta Lill appointed Smith to the Board of Adjustment, and she eventually became the vice-chair. She has since served on the city’s Landmark Commission and the Mayor’s Poverty Task Force, and most recently vice-chaired the South Dallas/Fair Park Trust.
Motives: The product of public schools and the daughter of career educators, Smith now teaches college students and tackles education issues as part of her consulting work. She is driven by a desire to help shape Dallas and believes schools are the place she can make the biggest impact.
Supporters: Smith entered the race with the support of three East Dallas councilmen — Mark Clayton, Philip Kingston and Adam Medrano — who not only have endorsed her but have walked neighborhoods with her as she campaigns. Teacher group NEA-Dallas has endorsed her, and she is particularly proud of the backing of Harryette Ehrhardt, a longtime educator and former DISD trustee and state representative.
Top priorities: Focusing on “the whole child” by addressing not just academic issues but also social and emotional issues that impact academics, and tying together Dallas ISD, City of Dallas and Dallas County efforts
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