Local School Board Races: Results and Issues

School board candidates and their supporters outside the Grapevine Public Library | Image by Charles Grand, The Dallas Express

Voters turned out Sunday to cast their ballots in school board races across North Texas, and The Dallas Express was on hand to hear what issues were important to parents and community members in their respective school districts as well as report on the elections’ results.

FARMERS BRANCH — As previously reported in The Dallas Express, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD has been reeling in the aftermath of more than a dozen fentanyl overdoses among middle school and high school students. Three students have died so far since September from the drug.

Local activist Carlos Quintanilla spoke with The Dallas Express outside Janie Stark Elementary School, which was serving as a polling location. He said that hard drug use among district students was a serious problem that district leaders have yet to grapple with.

“[The school board trustees] don’t have a grasp on a strategy on how to combat it. The leadership of the board has been very lethargic in addressing that issue. We’ve called for drug testing of all students to determine the magnitude of the [problem]. Obviously, the numbers speak for themselves. Sixteen overdoses. Three children [dead],” Quintanilla said.

Quintanilla also expressed concern over the expansion of charter schools in the area, arguing that the district leaders need to do a better job of convincing parents to keep their kids in the school system.

“There’s not a marketing campaign going on, at least not in Carrollton-Farmers Branch, to deviate the flow of children going into charter schools. And that’s also happening in Dallas,” Quintanilla said.

Another district resident, Natasha Moser, turned out to support the school district’s latest bond proposal. She said she wished there could be more collaboration between the local government and school district.

“Why would they not be together on certain things, especially when it comes to financing?” Moser said.

She also raised the issue of district teachers being unable to afford to live in the district.

“I want the teachers that work here to be able to afford to live in our city. That is very important to me,” she told The Dallas Express.

The bond measure passed, with 64% of voters in favor and 36% against.

Two at-large trustee seats were up for grabs on Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD’s school board. In a three-way race, voters were asked to log two votes for their preferred candidates. They could assign two votes to a single candidate or split their votes.

Unofficial final results suggest that incumbent Carolyn Benavides and former board member Randy Schackmann beat out candidate Wesley Nute.

FRISCO — Outside Frisco Fire Station #5 on Eldorado Parkway, supporters of various trustee candidates for the district held campaign signs and greeted voters as they entered the parking lot.

The Dallas Express asked Frisco ISD resident Keith Brunson about what he thought was bringing voters out to the polls in his community.

“A lot of parents think we’re losing our academic standards. People move to Frisco for advanced-level learning. One of the memos that came out from a principal was about equity and inclusion, and a lot of those folks are not here for that,” Brunson said, claiming that district standards are being watered down.

He went on to state that the district has also been grappling with an uptick in violence and unruly behavior at its campuses.

“Student on student, student on teacher as well. We need to figure out how to fix that. I think the rules are being enforced in more of a lax manner than they should be. We need to enforce the rules in place, that’s the only way to deal with the violence in the schools right now,” Brunson told The Dallas Express.

As of Sunday morning, the final unofficial election results indicate that incumbent Dynette Davis defeated challenger Reed Bond for Position 4 on Frisco ISD’s school board.

In the Position 5 race, Mark Hill beat out Susan Kershaw.

GRAPEVINE — Several candidates and their supporters for the Grapevine-Colleyville ISD Board of Trustees congregated at the Grapevine Public Library late Saturday afternoon.

The district has become somewhat of a flashpoint in North Texas in recent years after a newly elected board majority instituted several policies screening allegedly obscene library materials and banning the teaching of critical race theory and any discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation before the sixth grade, as previously reported in The Dallas Express.

The current board majority also altered election rules for the school district, allowing school board candidates to win with a simple plurality of votes instead of going into a runoff.

District parent Jeff Hall spoke to The Dallas Express about his support for the current board majority, saying it has been responsive to parents like himself.

“I think they’ve made some real progress last August with the policies that were passed … to protect our kids from some books, and I want to keep that in place. I’m concerned that if we don’t elect the right people, then some of those policies are going to change, and I don’t want them to,” Hall said.

He went on to state that academics had improved in recent years and that the board was working to get district test scores back on track.

Another district parent, Laura Trevino, offered a different perspective on the board majority, claiming it has provided little transparency regarding its decisions and is losing educators and staff due to the new policies limiting curricula.

“The board has not supported teachers in terms of giving them autonomy for making the decisions that they are professionally trained to make. There’s been a lot of talk among parents about how teachers can keep our kids safe in a post-Uvalde world, and we trust them with guns, but we don’t trust them with books,” Trevino said, referring to the School Marshal Program.

“I don’t believe some of the arguments for why we’re doing this to better our school district. I’ve seen the opposite actually take effect,” she added.

No incumbents ran for the three seats on the ballot for Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s Board of Trustees.

“A.J. Pontillo was elected to Place 5, Dianna Sager was elected to Place 6, and Mary Humphrey was elected to Place 7,” according to the district’s website.

Pontillo and Humphrey each won with a simple plurality of votes, likely benefiting from the board majority’s shakeup of election rules.

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