Election Day is May 6 and the Fort Worth Report is committed to keeping you informed through our Election Central.
To help voters make informed decisions at the ballot box, we asked every candidate to respond to a candidate questionnaire intended to touch on the most pressing issues candidates may face while serving in elected office.
Districts 2, 3, 5 and 6 in Fort Worth ISD are all on the ballot. District 2, where Pat Carlson is challenging incumbent Tobi Jackson, covers the eastern part of Fort Worth ISD. You can view district maps here.
Elections are coming up. Here are some key dates:
April 24: Early voting begins
May 2: Early voting ends
May 6: Election Day
Name: Tobi Jackson
Occupation: Executive director of Fort Worth SPARC
What are your top three priorities for the school board if you are elected?
- Building parental and community engagement to deliver exceptional student achievement and opportunity for every student regardless of ZIP code and circumstance.
- Our priority must be to strengthen our financial position and deliver a balanced budget for taxpayers and stakeholders.
- The 2021 bond contains $1.2 billion to reconstruct all middle schools and build four brand new elementary schools. These reconstructed and new schools will deliver exceptionally safe, state of the art learning academies for our students, educators and community of today and future generations. Adequate oversight of these significant construction projects to ensure they are delivered on time and under budget is paramount.
Gov. Greg Abbott has voiced support for an education savings account program that would allow parents to use taxpayer dollars to pay for private school tuition and other education-related expenses. What are your thoughts on the possible impact on public schools?
The penultimate potential impact is upon every child who will attend a K-12 education in Texas. An opportunity for a public education by Texas state law was provided to every adult who is now tasked with making a difficult decision on vouchers. The question in every Texan’s mind should be: Is this a decision devoid of reliable data? Voting to change taxpayer dollars from a traditional system to a new and unproven system, “vouchers.” For example, a student and their parent can enter a private school with aspirations of attending, only to be shunned and asked for the remaining 80% of the tuition balance.
Students may enter any school and commit their Education Savings Account for the academic year at a specific school. If a student is “bullied,” unable to perform, asked to leave, suspended, etc, how is the remainder of their year funded? This Education Savings Account will deliver a larger gap, separation of communities and potentially a less educated workforce. We must have more data and knowledge of exceptional “voucher” systems working for ALL students prior to placing Texas students in a situation which may be less than optimal for their education and ultimately their futures.
What do you think the Legislature should do for public education?
Legislation should supply every child with the opportunity to attend a neighborhood school with the same amenities as any other neighborhood within their city. Anything less is providing future generations with less than these legislators were provided and/or offered during their public school tenure. The legislature must fund public education fully.
Trustees make decisions on the vendors a school district uses. If elected, how would you ensure you remain free of any conflict of interest while you serve?
Salaried staff members are responsible for determining programming needs and supports based upon the joint goals of the board and superintendent. RFP’s (request for proposals) are written, reviewed and submitted based upon needs of the school district. They are posted per law for a set duration of time. RFP’s are then reviewed by a staff committee and a selection is made and presented to the board for a vote.
At this time, board members are asked during the board meeting to disclose any conflict. They will then abstain from voting on this particular agenda item associated with any vendor. Staff recommendations are essential and the board approves their recommendations.
How do you think your district can improve its conflict of interest and ethics policies?
Fort Worth ISD has the strongest ethics policy within North Texas. Our limit per vendor donation is $2,000 per year which is 20% less than the TEC (Texas Ethics Commission) limit of $2,500 annually. The board must always keep an open mind to strengthening our stance on conflict of interest and ethics as opportunities to do so present.
More people are attending school board meetings to voice their opinions. How would you manage giving people a chance to speak their concerns but still keep meetings civil?
Our Fort Worth ISD board meetings provide three minutes per speaker. Each potential speaker must sign up via email, phone or in person. If 20 speakers sign up, we move to two minutes per speaker. The board is always open to keeping the line of communication with the community open, readily and easily accessible.
I am available to the public seven days per week via text, phone, email or appointment. This has been my policy throughout my time in public service.
As for civility in meetings, our board president reads a statement and reminds individuals of their responsibility to speak in a responsible manner as our students are watching. The board is also cognisant of our responsibility to respectfully listen and take note of relevant information conveyed by our community members.
How would you handle voters disagreeing with a policy you approve?
Citizens call my cell, email and text frequently to discuss potential policy changes, prior to their being voted upon. It is my job as a trustee to listen intently and vote according to the knowledge imparted by the district experts and the concerns of our citizens who are taxpayers.
Many times, discussions with constituents after a vote are very productive and for greater understanding and opportunity on both sides of the decision. The optimal solution in most challenging situations is open and respectful communication. We work very hard to communicate with our community and listen with deep respect, open hearts and minds.
You can find other candidates’ responses by reading our voter guide here. The candidate’s responses may be edited for grammar.