Residents living inside Argyle school district boundaries will elect three new members to the school board and consider a $45 million bond proposal in the upcoming May 10 election.
Incumbents Kevin Faciane, Peggy Miller and Jim Haltom, who all will complete their first terms this May, did not file for re-election. Running to succeed them in the at-large positions are John Bitter, Kimberly Campbell, Craig Hawkesworth, Steve Moore, Wes Timmons and William Wolfe. The three candidates receiving the most votes will be elected to the board.
In addition to selecting school board trustees, voters will consider a single proposition — a $45 million bond package that could fund a new middle school, athletic facilities and high school upgrades, technology improvements and new school buses.
Early voting begins April 28 and continues through May 6.
The Argyle school board called a $45 million bond package in February in order to address “capacity needs, facility renovations and athletic updates and improvements,” according to a district media release.
The bond package going before voters next month includes:
$30.15 million for a new 750-student middle school campus for grades six through eight that will also serve as Phase 1 of a district high school.
* $2 million for technology.
* $550,000 for new buses.
* $155,000 in high school science lab updates.
* $218,000 for additional baseball/softball seating.
* $145,500 for a baseball outfield wall.
* More than $1 million for a girls’ field house/locker room.
* $280,000 for additional football stadium seating.
* Nearly $3.7 million for an indoor activity center.
* Nearly $2.5 million for additional tennis, baseball and softball locker rooms, office space and storage.
* $380,000 for four new tennis courts and lighting.
* More than $1.4 million for turf at the existing baseball and softball fields.
* Nearly $2.5 million in bond contingency funds.
If voters OK the bond proposal, district officials have said they hope to complete the projects listed in the package by fall 2016.
Superintendent Telena Wright said in a previous interview that the bond, if approved by voters, could increase the district tax rate by 12.5 cents per $100 valuation, an annual $125 increase for every $100,000 of a home’s value.
The school district has made a presentation of the bond package available at http://bit.ly/PjKVb8.
The last of three public meetings to discuss the bond package is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Argyle High School Lecture Hall, 191 S. U.S. Highway 377.
Candidates said priorities for the district include the bond package, ensuring that students graduate from Argyle with the tools needed for a successful future and hiring and retaining quality educators.
John Bitter, 42, of Bartonville, is a veterinarian and is president and chief executive officer of Argyle Veterinary Hospital.
The first-time candidate said he’s concerned about hiring, supporting and retaining top teachers and administrators, curriculum development and creating and maintaining climate for learning.
As the district looks to address growth, Bitter said that if the bond election passes, officials must consider how funds are utilized. As a potential board member, he said that if the bond passes, he wants to ensure that funds are utilized in a way that maximizes what he believes is the district’s core: offering a strong curriculum that meets the needs for students with various aptitudes while also providing them with necessary skills for their futures beyond high school. The district also needs to provide facilities “that create an environment for healthy learning,” and hire and support top educators who deliver a strong curriculum, he said.
“My goal is to be a voice on the board to continue to remind the board of our primary duty, to give students [the] highest academic opportunity they can take,” Bitter said.
Campbell, 40, of Argyle, is another first-time candidate and is national operations manager for Premier Nationwide Lending, a company of 350 employees.
She said growth is a big issue for the school district, and if elected to the school board, she wants to ensure that Argyle maintains the “highest level” possible in educating its students, that academics are strengthened as the district and community continue to grow and that teachers are supported in educating the district’s schoolchildren. With a background as an operations manager and a degree in finance, Campbell said she can be an asset when it comes to discussing the district’s budget.
“I feel like I can help ensure that the children are first priority and just focus on the education because their education ... is the future of our community,” she said. “I think that I am here to listen to parents along with educators to help this school district. I’m here to listen to the parents and the community to help ensure the school board does everything in its power to help educate the children.”
Hawkesworth, 44, of Argyle, is also a first-time candidate and works in online media and advertising sales.
He said his campaign focuses on three objectives: providing children with a safe learning environment, providing students with opportunities to succeed long term and making fiscally responsible decisions along with developing a strategic plan for successfully developing the district.
Hawkesworth said that as the district and community grow, he wants to ensure that the district continues to develop students who are productive members of society. As the community continues to grow, he said, it’s important for the school district and town to see how they can best work together to address the growth and that the community experiences commercial development which, in turn, will build the tax base.
“I have a vested interest in seeing the schools do well,” Hawkesworth said. “I want to listen to everybody ... and then make the decision that I believe is right and that the residents are wanting.”
Moore, 52, of Argyle, is an Oncor crew supervisor who served on the Argyle school board from 1998 until last year, when he was defeated in a bid for re-election.
He said he feels the school board lacks “tenure experience” and that he filed to serve on the board once again because he feels he has “that experience to offer, especially with a bond election and with the growth that is coming.”
“I thought that experience might be needed,” Moore said.
He said the district faces challenges in providing safe places for children to attend school and, as growth emerges, maintaining the excellence that residents have become accustomed to during the last several years.
“I think that I do have the experience and I just try to use good common sense,” Moore said. “I want to use my experience and common sense to serve the district.”
First-time candidate Timmons, 42, of Argyle, owns COR Advisory Services, an accounting and consulting business.
He said he wants to be “a positive influence on what goes on in the growing community of Argyle.” Timmons said if voters approve the $45 million bond package, it will be important to see that the facilities built meet the needs of students and educators. According to Timmons, if the bond passes, establishing “accountability and transparency” is crucial, and officials must find a way to ensure that students have a quality education and “reach their full academic potential.”
He said that because of his business background and experience as a former law enforcement officer, he can bring a different perspective to the school system. Timmons said he’s willing to put in the time and effort to ensure he’s not only available to serve on the board but will have “an open line of communication” with the public.
“I feel it would be an honor to be on the board,” Timmons said. “I would love to help achieve the vision of the district.”
Wolfe, 36, of Argyle, is a national sales manager for Panasonic and previously served on the Roanoke City Council.
He said that in the next three to five years, the district faces critical decisions in regard to growth in the area. The district will have to consider how to handle the expansion from a budget standpoint. The other challenge is Argyle’s need for more commercial business to provide tax revenue for the district, he said.
It will be important for the district to work with the Argyle Town Council to make sure the revenue coming in is maximized, he said. It’s also equally important to provide Argyle students with “a solid education,” he said.
Wolfe said because of his past experience serving on a city council that he can bring different experiences to the board.
“I don’t come with an agenda,” he said. “Every decision I make is based on what I feel will best benefit our kids.
“I’d like to be the voice for the district and for the residents of the town.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.