In the second segment of the debate the attention turned to candidates for single member district two, Laura Duhon and Margie T. Villalpando. In her opening remarks, Duhon said she grew up in Galveston. She came to San Marcos to attend Texas State where she earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies and a M.A. in Elementary Education. She taught in the Lockhart School District and is currently a full time lecturer teaching education majors at Texas State.
Margie T. Villalpando, the incumbent, is a Doctor of Ministry secretary for the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Villalpando noted that she has served as the city secretary of Martindale, Hays County Clerk, and assistant director of Community Action. She earned a B.A. from Texas State and has received training as a school board member. She is currently vice president of the school board. Villalpando noted that she has “been in the community all my life” and has served on the school board for four years.
Laura Duhon is running for the school board because “this community has been a big part of my life and I want to give back.” She noted that she had worked with San Marcos teachers who all cared about students but “unfortunately had not heard very good things about the school district,” and this is a concern as her experience was quite different. Villalpando said she is running because “as a community volunteer,” she “always wants to give back to the community.
To the question of what ideas would you give to the school administration for attracting and retaining good qualified teachers, Villalpando said the school district is already “recruiting from the local university…We have excellent professional development training… We have strived to have competitive salaries … but it becomes a difficult job.” Duhon said, “the first thing an administration needs to look at is the needs of each campus… If a teacher cannot trust their administrator… then they don’t want to stay.” In rebuttal, Villalpando said, “we have good administrators, good principals at our campuses…”
In answer to the question of what would you do to promote our public schools and advocate for the San Marcos CISD, Duhon said “we need to strengthen our partnerships with the community and the university… We need to use PR (public relations) effectively…We have a lot to offer as a community, as a school district.” Villalpando said “we have excellent coverage in our local media… We have had UIL ratings that we have never had before and they’re all being reported.”
The goals Villalpando has for the SMCISD are to “set a vision for the school district. Mainly to have our students graduate college ready or career ready.” Duhon said her goals would be to continue to improve student achievement and to work with teachers to help every single individual student. “Managing the budget” is also an important goal for her.
There were a number of questions from the audience. Ted Marchut brought up the comparable statistics concerning number of students taking the SAT and their scores and said with those numbers, “I don’t see how you can argue our students are college ready.” Villalpando replied that “some of our students are college ready” and said our district is “improving” in that regard. Duhon answered that “when you read those statistics, they are alarming.” She promised that “I will support the teachers not to have those types of numbers.”
Carol Peters asked how did the candidates feel about a future campus in Caldwell County. Villalpando answered that “I think that is a wonderful idea. We need to think about having a campus in that area.” Duhon said that “I would support that as long as the budget allows it. I think eventually I would like to see that.”
The last question from the audience was what suggestions do the candidates have to keep our students enthused all the way through high school. Duhon answered that “fifth graders should be in an elementary school campus. We need to look at each individual student.” Villalpando said that we need to look at the professional development of our teachers. She added that we need to focus on “the needs of our individual children.”
In the concluding statements, Villalpando said, “As the incumbent running for San Marcos School District 2, I have the experience, the integrity, and the proven commitment to continue serving as school board member District 2. My four year history of serving our community on the School Board, and my experience working in city, county, and federal government have prepared me.. to provide the service for the students of our district. I would be honored to have your vote and support.”
Duhon concluded by saying, “When I officially signed up to run for school board, I was reading through the literature and the word that just kept coming just up is trust. The community needs to trust you, your voters need to trust you, and I really took that word to heart. I would like the voters in the community to trust that as a school board member, any decisions I need to make I’d like to collaborate with the rest of the school board members to truly make a positive change or continue to make positive growth in the school district. I would be honored if that is what is meant to be.”
By ED MIHALKANIN
Audio of the debate
School board election early voting runs from April 28 to May 6. Election day is May 10. Please click here to find full information on times, dates, and places for early voting and election day voting for SMCISD school board elections.
EDIT: A quotation error in Laura Duhon’s comments has been corrected.Email | Print