RED OAK – A candidates forum was sponsored by the Red Oak Council of PTAs on Thursday to give voters an opportunity to hear the views of each of the candidates.

Participating were Place 3 candidates John Anderson (incumbent) and Kimberly Molden, Place 4 contestants Barb Volger (incumbent) and Larry Stevenson and Place 6 candidate, Henry Lozano (incumbent), who is uncontested.

After giving a brief biography of himself, Lozano, who is going into his third term, stepped down from the stage to allow more time for the other candidates, each of who also provided biographical information along with their desires for the future of the school board.

Anderson is also a three-term trustee completing his ninth year on the board. He has lived in Red Oak since 1972 and is a 1983 alumni of Red Oak High School. He is a 12-year Navy veteran and is an engineer for a semiconductor manufacturing company. He is married and has children in the second and 10th grades.

Molden holds a bachelor of science degree in health care from Texas State University and a master’s in business administration from Texas Woman’s University. She is seeking her second secondary degree with a master’s in education administration from Lamar University. She is a special education teacher. She has a set of twins that attend Red Oak Junior High.

Vogler has been a trustee for five years. She moved to the district 16 years ago with her husband. They have two children: a son who is a 2008 graduate of Red Oak and is attending Texas Tech University and a daughter who is a senior at Red Oak High School. She has 15 years teaching and is an online professor of math for a local university. Additionally, Vogler has 15 years experience in the corporate and government positions.

Stevenson retired from Red Oak ISD with almost 40 years experience as a teacher and coach. Stevenson has a bachelor’s degree in history and education from University of Arlington. He has served on the Christian Academy School Board and on the state board of TAPPS. While living in Ovilla, he has also served on the city council for five elected terms. Stevenson is married and has two grown sons.

After their introductions, each was given a set of questions provided by the PTA; they then responded to a random drawing of additional questions submitted by the audience. The questions touched on a wide range of subjects ranging from technology to programs for students and teachers.         

The first question posed to the candidates was, “Why do you want to be a school board member?” Molden’s answer was she’s been a teacher and is now a special education teacher. “I have a vested interest in the community and school district as an educator, a teacher and a mother,” she said. “I know what it takes to educate children.”

Anderson’s answer was, “What better way to make sure the quality of education is high than to be a part of the change.” He said the quality of education has improved along with the quality of the district’s teachers and administrators. “The community and the kids deserve a strong school board that will make the tough decisions,” he said.

“This district has the potential to provide the best teachers our students must have to succeed. I’m excited about having the opportunity to help provide that need,” Vogler said. “I am an educator and a business person.”

Stevenson said he’s always wanted to be on the board. He couldn’t serve when he was a teacher in the district and when he was active in city government he felt he didn’t have the time to serve. At the urging of one of his former students, he decided to join in the campaign. “The school business is in a real tough time and tough decision will need to be made,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to be on the school board. I want to give back what the school system has given me.”

Several times during the forum, the ratio of student to teacher was brought up.

Stevenson and Anderson both said current class size is a problem and all of the candidates felt that classes need to have a level number of students: not one class with a few and another with several. Each had a different approach.

Stevenson said the teachers in each department should get together to schedule the classes and balance the student load to a level number. Anderson said redistributing the classes among the facilities would help and suggested expanding the junior high into the old high school and possibly including the fourth grade with the fifth to make up the intermediate and free space in the elementary schools.

Vogler felt the ratio in the secondary was satisfactory; however, to balance the classes and maintain a satisfactory ratio that would benefit the students, the district needs to practice leveling of all class sizes.

While Molden felt class size was an issue, she said teachers need more structure in their classroom schedules. Each class needs to have a structured format that would ensure each teacher was achieving his or her education objective.

Other subjects touched on were TAKS testing, technology and financial strategies. Each of the candidates had similar views, saying the district needs to be progressive in implementing and improving technology to better prepare the students for higher education.