NISD school board candidates speak at forum

Published 1:13 pm Wednesday, April 18, 2018

NEDERLAND — A common thread of thought was evident when the four candidates vying for three open seats on Nederland Independent School District’s board of trustees spoke during Tuesday night’s forum — the district needs to pass a bond.

The candidates, Tonya Mitchell, Micah Mosley, Roya Wood-Scott and Ronald Burkhalter are all  ‘pro-bond’ and expressed the need for new facilities during the forum held at First United Methodist Church Community Fellowship Center.

Scott, who was a general dentist and her husband is currently a pediatric dentist, has two children in the school district. She has spent 12 years volunteering in NISD and has worked on a number of boards.

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“The number one reason I’m here is for the children, the students. This is beyond being about my children,” Scott said. “If you live in Nederland these are all of our children, our responsibility.”

On the topic of a bond election, she asked the audience to “please don’t say you’re against a bond.”

Scott said people worry about taxes and if a bond were passed she doesn’t believe there would be a significant tax increase.

Mosely, an operations manager at Huntsman, is married and has two children. He spoke of topics that are important to his platform, beginning with the 2009 and 2012 bond results. The 2012 bond passed and allowed the district to make lighting improvements, some remodeling and removing outdated air conditioning and replacing it with heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units.

The failed 2009 bond was “plagued with misinformation” mainly at the hands of Citizens Acting for Responsible Education, or CARE.

The need is still there today – students are in portable classrooms, walls are paperthin, the layout of the schools is not safe during emergencies and there is the need to focus on the 21st century and technology.

Burkalter, a chief executive officer at a local credit union, was previously on the NISD board from 2013 through September 2017. He stepped down because many employees of the credit union lost everything in Tropical Storm Harvey and so one of his daughters could apply for a job in the district.

“I’m a consensus builder and always want to be part of the solution,” Burkhalter said. “The bond is the elephant in the room.”

Facilities can either promote teaching or hinder, he said, adding that his accounting background would be a plus for the school board. He told of how the schools in NISD are anywhere from 47 to 79 years old and not equipped for the 21st century students.

Mitchell, is retired from the school district after holding a number of different positions from life skills instructional aide, bookkeeper, high school secretary and lastly as secretary to the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction.

She feels her knowledge of the classroom, along with some financial experience plus extensive knowledge in curriculum and funding gives her an advantage.

Mitchell also hopes to see a bond passed, saying the student population has continued to grow but not the facilities to house them.

“There are leaky roofs. My home doesn’t leak why should a school roof leak?” she said.

Besides schools she also feels it’s time to look at the stadium, saying the press box is in deplorable shape.

Mitchell, Mosely, Scott and Burkhalter are seeking to fill the three expired terms of Brian Gentile, Reed Richard and Jesse Branick, who was appointed in September in place of Burkhalter.

Terms are for three years and seats are at large.

Early voting begins Monday, April 23 for the May 5 election.