Amarillo voters selected three new school board trustees on Saturday night, perhaps reshaping the board for the next two to four years. The move was a big shakeup for Amarillo ISD, as many voters spoke out wanting change after several scandals hit the school district. There is a lot to unpack from the results on Saturday night, as well as a chance to look ahead at the future of the Amarillo Independent School District.
First off, I would like to thank John Betancourt, Jim Austin, and Scott Flow for their service to the district. While I did not agree with the trustees on everything, and they did not agree on everything either, I cannot fault these gentlemen for taking the time to serve the students, faculty, parents, and taxpayers of the Amarillo Independent School District.
However, I would also like to take a look at the three new trustees. Honestly, I have no opinion one way or the other on the incoming trustees and what they plan to do on the board. I can say I have been impressed with Kimberly Anderson’s approach to some issues on the campaign trail, and I have heard good things about Dick Ford’s expected approach to fiscal issues. I have not met Alonzo Everhart, but hope for the best for his endeavors on the school board.
Whether fairly or unfairly, controversy over the resignation of a local coach impacted two trustees’ bids for re-election this year. On this particular issue, I hope voters will remember their same concerns in 2021, when the next batch of trustees are up for re-election. Applying this litmus test to one group and not the other would be a mistake, in my opinion.
There are also concerns about the name of Lee Elementary School. I will defer to the incoming board on this matter, but I hope that the board will listen to the concerns of citizens when making a decision on this matter.
On matters of a fiscal nature, I would like to see AISD do everything it possibly can to effectively maximize the use of its tax revenues. I would also like to see the next school board listen closely to the concerns of taxpayers when it comes to spending the funds from the 2017 bond, as well as any future debt sources.
Also, the incoming trustees need to make sure they listen to the concerns of faculty and staff of the district in their decision-making processes. AISD educators are some of the hardest working people in the community, and their concerns should be heard and understood in the AISD boardroom.
For the incoming trustees, again, congratulations. For the trustees who will be up for re-election in 2021, I hope that you will listen to the concerns of those who elected you. If not, 2021 could be a repeat of 2019 at the ballot box.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-in-Chief