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Katy ISD Board of Trustees Position 6 has Multiple Candidates Vying for the Spot


KATY MAGAZINE NEWS

April 21, 2021

By Natalie Cook Clark and Jennifer Miko


With multiple candidates running for Katy ISD Board of Trustees Position 6, we decided to spotlight this race. Position 7 has only two candidates running, Dawn Champagne (current board member) and Walter Butler.


Early voting for the Katy ISD Board of Trustees runs now through April 27. Susan Gesoff currently holds the seat on Position 6, and four other candidates - Bonnie Anderson, William X. Branch (not pictured) Garima D. Gupta, and Rebecca Fox, are all vying for the spot. Election day is May 1.

Pictured (left to right) Bonnie Anderson, Rebecca Fox, Susan Gesoff, and Garima D. Gputa


Initially, six candidates submitted applications for the Position Six position on the Katy ISD Board of Trustees. However, on April 15, Joe Wojcik withdrew from the race. William X. Branch did not respond to the questions Katy Magazine sent to each of the candidates, so he is not included in this spotlight.



BONNIE ANDERSON


Bonnie Anderson grew up in Katy ISD schools, attending Hutsell Elementary and Katy Junior High. Now, her 8-year-old twins, a boy and a girl, and 15-year-old son are enrolled in Katy ISD schools. She and her husband Pete also have two silly giant yellow labs.


Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in corporate finance and 10 years as a public policy analyst. She is a KEYS mentor and a crisis hotline volunteer, and bilingual in English and Spanish. Anderson says if elected, she would bring her “focused analytics, openness, directness and transparency, and unlimited compassion to serve.”

Q: What inspired you to run for this position?


A: As a parent of young children in the school district, I have stepped up to demand accountability and action from our current school board and administrators in putting the education and well-being of the children first, before politics, personal ideology or outside influence.


I have been actively involved with other parents in the district and we are insisting upon parents' choice in both curriculum and health. For any medical, sensitive or personal decisions, parents must have complete freedom to make their own choices for their children without restrictions or mandates from the district or the state or federal government. Regardless of these choices, all children in the district must have equal access to public education. We MUST do what is best for Katy ISD and its children, not just what is in current political favor.


Q: To you, what is your ONE most important issue our District needs to address first and foremost?

A: Broadly speaking, the most significant challenge is the district’s inability to put aside political issues which come in and out of favor, leading to a lack of prioritizing students. Beyond the challenges of the past year, there have been governance and policy decisions made which do not consider, and even in many cases directly conflict with the well-being of the students and the will of parents.


For example, rather than entrusting our highly qualified and amazing teachers to teach curriculum designed by themselves and approved by the district, the district has hired expensive curriculum and instruction administrators who seemingly push curriculum which is more political and less educational.


For many years, this district has been following a path of prioritizing public perception and the whims of politicians at the expense of our children. Students’ well-being and education must be prioritized, and we must empower our teachers rather than restrict them.




REBECCA FOX


Rebecca Fox is an avid education volunteer, motivational speaker and humorist, with a bachelor’s degree in Consumer and Family Science. She and her husband moved their young family to Katy 23 years ago, and their children graduated from Katy ISD schools.


Fox has served at all levels of the District, from classroom volunteer through district level committees, to school board to Master Trustee. She has been PTA President, Katy ISD Education Foundation founding member, and a KEYS Mentor. Over the years, she has served on the Bond Committee, Strategic Design committee, and as Katy ISD Trustee, TASB Master Trustee and Energy Co-op Chairman. Fox has been recognized as Cinco High Volunteer of the Year, Katy Chamber Citizen of the Year and Top Texas Women by Congressman McCaul.

Q: What inspired you to run for this position?


A: Education is critical to impacting the future and as a former Trustee, I noticed some valuable things missing on the current Board. Namely, experience and vision. The current board and superintendent are great people, however, together they have an average 2 years’ experience.


With my broad and deep experience in service to the students, coupled with connections I have fostered with local and state officials, I bring an expertise that will elevate the Katy ISD board. I know how to navigate the system and get things accomplished. I have served at all levels of the district and continue to volunteer in schools which gives me a firsthand look at successes AND needs. I recognize the importance of the board working in partnership with community. Trustees should be expected to see students and teachers in their educational environment, be active in the community and open to outside communication, to be effective. In order to address challenges, the board cannot continue to isolate itself from the community.


Q: To you, what is your ONE most important issue our District need to address first and foremost?


A: Students are the priority, and due to the pandemic, the immediate issue is making sure all students are on track with their education.


Teachers have made herculean efforts to redesign curriculum delivery and they deserve our respect. Still, there will likely be a gap in learning, and a plan is needed to make sure every student is caught up. The district should consider teacher/student ratios where needs are greatest. Before or after school tutoring can help students with learning gaps. Expanded transportation might be needed for tutorials. Reopening campuses and restoring all programs as soon as possible is important because students have missed out on rich opportunities and experiences with the restrictions. Equally important is helping children with their emotional needs as the pandemic has caused serious issues for children and adults. As a ‘boots-on-the-ground’ leader, I am constantly involved in campuses and the community to better understand issues to make informed decisions and implement needed changes.


SUSAN GESOFF


Susan Gesoff married her college sweetheart and moved to Texas 32 years ago to work for Texas Instruments. The couple moved to Katy when their three daughters were little. Susan made a career change and taught 5th grade science at Alexander Elementary for six years.


Gesoff eventually returned to engineering but was inspired to run for the board three years ago. She felt her teaching experience, combined with 25 years of business, STEM, continuous improvement, and strategy development experience, would be an asset in the role of trustee.

Q: What inspired you to run for this position?


A: My years in the classroom helped me to understand the tremendous challenges of the 21st century classroom and I became passionate about education. I want to continue to ensure student success and support the hardworking teachers and staff who educate them. The job of Trustee is to provide governance and oversight on behalf of all citizens and enable the leaders to deliver outstanding results for the district while driving continuous improvement.


Q: To you, what is your ONE most important issue our District needs to address first and foremost?


A: While I am proud of the extraordinary efforts of the district staff who have provided as much as possible in the way of educational and extracurricular experiences in the past year, there will be much work to be done to support students as we return to ‘normal.’ Kindergarten will be a particular challenge, given that many children did not attend this year. So next year’s kindergarten cohort will be large and span two years of development. A significant number of students have left the educational system, and, despite the heroic efforts of our staff, many remain unenrolled. Some students have fallen behind in work and grades, and all students have missed out on some learning opportunities due to the pandemic. Next year will require staff to identify gaps and work with campus interventions and support staff to help students mitigate deficiencies. All staff will have to be vigilant in recognizing trauma and social issues in students returning to the classrooms; and bring social workers, counselors, and LSSPs, together to support them. Principals will continue to work with local truancy and law enforcement to bring Katy students back to school. Finally, per TEA, we will need to consider how we might have to continue to provide online learning beyond the pandemic.


GARIMA D. GUPTA


Garima D. Gupta has lived in Katy for almost a decade. She received her master’s degree from the University of Colorado in Denver. While interning in the Colorado governor’s office, she worked on a project to help the homeless. She also worked as a policy analyst in the Department of Veteran Affairs in Houston.


Over the past 9 years, Gupta has been an educator as an adjunct professor at Strayer University in Virginia, and Houston Community College. Currently, she is a faculty member in a community college.

Q: What inspired you to run for this position?


A: Lack of accountability, honesty, and negligence resulting in lawsuits, charges, and payouts makes me extremely sad.


I get upset when I see due to District’s negligence and mistakes taxpayer money is being used for lawsuits/payouts instead of the actual purpose which is supposed to be used – which is students’ education. Katy ISD Board needs to change. Katy ISD Board needs more efficient, hardworking, and experienced coworker.


I feel it’s time to get involved in the school system to better understand and work together with District for a better school system.


Q: To you, what is your ONE most important issue our District need to address first and foremost?


A: Katy ISD lacks communication and coordination between the Board and the District. We need more meetings/meeting time to understand the issues and challenges that the District is facing now. There are gaps that exist in the system.


If elected, I will send emails, reach out to more people, and inform them about our regular board meetings, and encourage all to participate. Meetings should be both in person and virtual.




For more information about the Katy ISD Board of Trustees, and links to voting information, click here.



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