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A look at PNGISD trustee candidates

Two candidates, both active in the community, are vying for the Place 2 seat on the Port Neches-Groves Independent School District board of trustees.

The candidate who ultimately gets elected to the seat will replace longtime trustee and retired educator Lana Parker whose term expired this year and she did not elect to run for reelection.

Here’s a look at the candidates:

• Derek Knepp, 37, is a graduate of Nederland High School and a resident of Port Neches for 13 years. His wife, Selina, is a graduate of Port Neches-Groves High School. The couple has two boys.

• Dustin Marsh, 39, is director of business development at Sunbelt Supply Company, a valve and valve automation distributor. He and his wife Mindy have two children, a daughter, Kelby, 10, and a son, Keaton, 6.

Question: Why are you running for school board?

• Derek Knepp  — Education is important to me. It can change lives, open doors, and create opportunities for success. I also know how devastating, difficult, and trying it can be for a child and their family with an undiagnosed disability and constant bullying. This was our reality for the last two years, yet we knew that God was in control and he had a purpose and a plan. There have been many times we felt defeated, but giving up was not an option. My wife and I will never forget the day our prayers were answered. She will always have a special place in our hearts and we are eternally grateful for everything she did for our son. We are excited to see what the future holds now that we have the necessary tools in place to help our child succeed.

• Dustin Marsh — I believe that serving as a school board member is one of the most important responsibilities and commitments a citizen of Groves and Port Neches can have; overseeing the education of our youth.

As a past employee of the district, my understanding of a school board member is one that must keep our schoolchildren a main focus, as it is imperative that a member be receptive to and engaging with students, the parents, staff and the entire community.

As a graduate of the class of 1997, married to a graduate of 99’ and being a father of two kids, who will be graduates of 2026 and 2030, I am passionate about this district and community.  The motto Honor, Pride, and Tradition, is what embodies our community as it sets a standard for Excellence in Education. 

My experience as a businessman and past employee of our district, will help me provide the background to be a servant leader in preserving the culture while working together to build a sustainable vision for future Indians.

Question: What are some specifics issues that need to be addressed in the school district and how would you address them?

• Derek Knepp  — Port Neches-Groves ISD has always been known for the high quality of education our children receive. A positive and safe learning environment is vitally important for our children’s education and future.

Every child living within our school district should be given the highest quality of education possible and in order to make that happen we, as parents and community members, have to take a stand against bullying and harassment.

No child should fear being bullied when they walk into any school within our district. I will take a stand against bullying and be a voice for our children.

Our children deserve the opportunity to learn and grow to the highest extent in a positive and safe school district that not only supports the learning environment, but as equally and importantly, the educators that selflessly give their time and hearts to ensure our students of Port Neches and Groves become proud and confident learners for life.

Our teachers deserve to have access to the supplies, tools, and resources they need for their classrooms. I will advocate for more dollars to be spent towards teaching and learning in our classrooms. It is vitally important we keep qualified, dedicated, and loving teachers in our district. Parents, students, and everyone in the community deserve and expect the best in service from these professionals; no less should be expected from board members.

• Dustin Marsh — I believe that serving others is a very important part of life and learning from those can always help make us better.  As a former employee of PN-G ISD, I believe that I offer a very unique perspective that would be valuable to the Board of Trustees.  Although, at this time I do not see any particular issue to address but know that I come with an openness to serve our district by learning, enforcing and building upon the policies that are in place to help our students and faculty excel for future growth and stability going forward. 

However, I also think it is worth discussing with the superintendent and other board members the possibility of a new facility study for our elementary campus’s due to the age of those facilities and the increasing of students taking place every year as we have had significant improvements to our middle schools and high school in recent years. 

These types of discussions could allow our elementary students an even better opportunity to educate themselves with enhanced infrastructure such as suitable work spaces, technology, etc.  While working for our Maintenance and Technology Department years ago, I got to see the everyday operations of these schools that are now requiring more maintenance each year, which were the same facilities I attended back when I was a little Indian.

With that said, I assure you I will be a board member that works thoroughly with other board members as well as listens closely to the input from all groups within our community and utilizing all factual information in my decisions to better the future of PN-G ISD. 

As I have a vested interest with children, every decision I make will be one that exemplifies the success of our children and the community we all love.  I ask for your support and I look forward to the opportunity to serve.

Early voting begins Oct. 22 and ends Nov. 2. Election day is Nov. 6.