The upcoming GCISD school board election is very important to the future of Grapevine. Kimberley Barber Davis is a candidate for GCISD School Board, Place 1. Ms. Davis was kind enough to answer a few of our questions about her background and the upcoming election.
Note: Early voting is April 30-May 8 and election Day May 12. Please remember to vote.
Here is the interview:
What made you decide to run for GCISD School Board Trustee Place 1?
My husband and I grew up in the metroplex and attended TCU, but like many others, we moved our family to GCISD for the excellent schools and strong sense of community.
Because of my 19 year background in strategic planning for non-profits and corporate social responsibility, I immediately became an active volunteer and was appointed as 1 of 30 members of GCISD’s ten year Strategic Planning Team, called LEAD 2021. This team established a direction for the district that will bring self directed, individualized learning and includes a purposeful integration of technology into the classroom.
I feel strongly that a one-size fits all approach doesn’t work. Despite the obvious complexities, all children should be assessed and taught at their own level in order to reach their fullest potential. An individualized learning plan ensuring growth for every child with teachers who have the tools and training to meet these needs is imperative. It sounds too good to be true; but this is the promise our district and school board made to our kids through LEAD 2021. I look forward to seeing the impact this brave plan will have on our district when fully implemented.
What makes you the best candidate for the position?
I hope you can see the primary difference in my campaign signs. They are very non-political for a reason. I am not running to represent a political interest, nor is this a stepping-stone for me, I’m simply running to serve as a voice for the children of GCISD that need so desperately to be seen as unique individuals.
One of the most important jobs of the board is to set the strategic vision for the district and ensure that steps are taken along the way to ensure its progress. This role is a perfect marriage of my professional background in strategic planning for non-profits combined with the volunteer leadership roles I’ve taken as an education advocate.
I’ve worked with multiple different boards of directors helping create and carry out strategic plans and led the re-branding efforts of two of Dallas’ largest non-profits. I understand and appreciate the important distinction between the board’s responsibility and that of senior management of an organization, as well as the varying responsibilities of a board member from visioning, fiscal responsibility, accountability, community involvement, and management.
In addition, I approached running for the board in the same way as I have every other major project, with a thorough amount of research. I’ve met with school board members of the past and present not only in GCISD but also in area districts as well to get a complete picture of the roles and requirements. I researched election regulations to ensure my campaign was in full compliance. I believe how a candidate runs a campaign is exactly how they would act when serving on the board. And while I hope to bring my business background, passion for excellence in education, and history of involvement in driving change to the GCISD Board of Trustees at this critical time, at the end of this I still just want to be a good role model for my own kids!
What are the biggest issues facing GSISD today?
1. The single most important issue facing our district today is the funding crisis. We are fortunate in that our past and present Boards of Trustees were financially conservative and planned well for our future. It is because of those carefully planned funding choices that we are not experiencing the wholesale cuts in services that other districts are experiencing. We have a fund balance that can protect our immediate needs while we find other sources of funding, streamline spending, make budget decisions thoughtfully and in line with our strategic plan, conservatively manage our fund balance and most importantly work with legislators to change the state of funding for public schools.
The current funding formula, most commonly known as “Robin Hood,” is outdated, unfairly caps our revenue and takes away our local control. GCISD has contributed almost $450 million to the State of Texas since the inception of this formula in 1993/94. Those numbers hit home as we look at our own shrinking budget and are facing serious cuts to programs that our students count on. It is up to each of us to get informed about what these mandates mean for our local schools, and what we can do to make a change.
2. We need to deliver the promises of LEAD 2021. As a LEAD 2021 10-year Strategic Planning Team member I am very excited about what this means for the students in our district and in our community’s ability to continue to attract families and business to this area. My goal for being on the board is to ensure that we use the community’s resources strategically and in line with that plan. I hope to educate more people about LEAD 2021 so we can all hold the district and board accountable for its implementation. Being a “destination” school district is important for all of us!
3. Technology is probably the biggest variable in education right now. As more publishers switch away from print versions of textbooks, parents demand individualized instruction, schools compete globally thanks to online courses, and tech savvy students expect instant access to information, our district will have to evolve quickly to keep up. Privacy and control issues will become paramount as students create their online identities at increasingly younger ages. On the educator’s side, technology now gives us the tools to not only assess every student, but to deliver instruction accordingly. And finally, it will allow us to include the parents as true partners in the education process.
How has your experience been working with current school district leadership and other community members on the districts 10-year strategic plan?
Getting involved in the 10-year strategic plan, LEAD 2021, is exactly what made me want to run this year. We have a visionary leader in Dr. Ryan, the best teachers around, and passionate parents that are eager to get involved. The Planning Team, comprised of business and community leaders, educators, foundation and district board members, parents and students, set a very strong vision for the district. At our team workshops we agreed pretty quickly on a vision for our district. The actual implementation pieces were tougher to agree on (which continues to be the challenge!) but we did it professionally, respectfully, and without fanfare resulting in a plan everyone was happy with.
Between my involvement in multiple district committees, as founder and president of a parent group, and as an active campus and classroom volunteer, I have devoted over 1,000 hours to GCISD in the last year alone. I’ve chosen to work for GCISD projects instead of paying clients because I believe so passionately in this pivotal time in our district’s history. I believe that I’m seen as a safe, fair, and logical intermediary that will work to bring people together from diverse perspectives and work to find common ground.
Is there anything else you would like voters to know about you before the upcoming election?
My husband and I have 3 children that will graduate from GCISD in 2020, 2022, and 2026. I also have stepsisters that are in middle and high school in GCISD so I’m personally vested in the future of our district and have a K-12 perspective.
Through most of my career, I’ve purposefully accepted newly created or reinvented positions, continually challenging me to define problems, create solutions, and take action. As a parent, I saw a great need in our district and volunteered my time to start SAGE which is a 501c3 non-profit parent group supporting the unique educational, social, and emotional needs of our district’s gifted and talented students. I committed to doing so because parents didn’t have access to resources they needed, we lacked a parent support group that our neighboring districts had, and our rating for this program according to the Texas State Plan for Gifted Education was not as high as it should be. In less than one year, SAGE grew to serve over 1,000 GCISD families. As a Trustee I would have the opportunity to bring that same problem-solving and partnership experience to the entire district.
Through SAGE, I know the difference that it makes when parents are informed and involved and when kids are accepted for their differences. Through LEAD 2021, I know that children will grow when their unique needs are considered. Through my involvement in school finance I know we must continue working to keep more of our tax dollars for our local schools by updating the funding formula, removing the cap on revenue, and re-establishing local control. Through my experience, I know that you can’t predict the future, but you can plan strategically and entrust decisions to those with proven results, vision, ethics, and commitment to serve.