Early voting concluded across Madison County on Tuesday and six individuals are vying for a spot on the Madisonville Consolidated School District (MCISD) Board with election day scheduled for Saturday.
The Position 6 Incumbent Mike Corley has served on the board for eight years and is seeking reelection against a pair of challengers.
“I have been proud to serve the district,” said Corley. “I am especially proud of our bond passages to improve the school and infrastructure. We were essentially able to revamp the high school and increase security at other campuses.”
Specifically, Corley also highlighted the construction of Raney Lane in March as well as the current board’s ability to recruit and maintain top personnel. This includes the district’s teachers, principals and Superintendent.
“We want to continue improving our standardized testing now that we know how it works,” said Corley. “I know we are going to see improvements on the STAR tests we just took. We hope to see a more fair evaluation coming from state requirements so that teachers can evaluate the progress of each student instead of the one test on one day philosophy.”
He also highlighted the success of the district’s extra-curricular activities and hopes to continue Madisonville’s “winning ways.”
Terri Brown Davis
One of Corley’s challengers for Position 6 will be Terri Brown Davis. She is a mother of three and grandmother of two who currently works as an assistant manager at Walmart in Huntsville. She spent 20 years in the postal service and worked her way up to postmaster. Her mother served as the city council’s alderman and gave her a glimpse into political life.
“I ran for school board a couple times in my earlier years,” said Davis. “Madisonville has not had a minority board member in quite sometime and I feel like, since they serve the children, the children should be able to see themselves in the board.”
Davis also believes that it would be easier for minority students to understand their future options and how to achieve them if they had someone on the board that they could identify with.
“Overall, the school board is doing a great job,” said Davis. “They offer many opportunities for students who do not want to go to college. It is there, but I feel like so many black students do not know it is there or that it is something they can do.”
The youngest candidate on the ticket will be 24-year-old Melissa Hinojosa, an MCISD graduate who currently works for Madisonville Reality. She still has three siblings who are currently students in the district.
“I believe we should be providing the best public education that we can,” said Hinojosa. “We are doing an amazing job in a number of extra-curricular activities, but I do not believe we are doing everything we can to help students succeed after high school.”
Hinojosa acknowledged the district’s high graduation rate, but conveyed frustration with a lack of AP courses and CTE programs.
“When I graduated, we had one AP class,” said Hinojosa. “I now realize that we have none. I do not understand how we can prepare students for college or the future if we are not providing them with the proper classes. We come from an economically disadvantaged school and can provide free trade programs for them, but it is more of a certificate. Other district get certified through the state.”
Hinojosa believes that the current board has done an admirable job at what they are focused on, but thinks it is time to focus on different things.
Position 7 Incumbent Zingara Manning has now served on the MCISD school board since 2011 and two of her children currently attend the high school. Manning highlighted the many upgrades to the district’s facilities as one of the highlights of her tenure thus far.
“I am pleased with the transformation of the campus,” said Manning. “I have chosen to run for reelection because I am a firm believer in the benefits of an education. With the experience, insight and knowledge I have gained as a board member, I intend to continue to support and advocate for the children of our district. They are our greatest resource and providing them with the tools for a quality education will allow them to have a successful future.”
Outside of her current position on the school board, Manning works in her family’s beef cattle operation. The business has been in her family for four generations.
Like fellow incumbent Mike Corley, Manning highlighted state testing and was concerned with the amount of emphasis that goes into it. She feels that reducing the importance of state testing would work toward the district’s favor and better encompass the ability of the students.
Cassandra “Nan” McGilbra
Manning’s competition for Position 7 is Cassandra McGilbra, who has worked with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for over 25 years as the agency’s accreditation manager. She is a mother of four and also has one grandchild.
“I have a desire to be a part of different things going on in the community and our children’s future,” said McGilbra. “I think Madisonville schools are top notch. I work with a lot of people from other school districts and hear about some of the things going on, the good and the bad.”
McGilbra also expressed a need for diversity on the MCISD school board to better represent the student population.
“As diverse of a community as Madisonville is, our school board is not diverse at all,” said McGilbra. “I think that it is important for all minorities to be represented on the board to give a voice to everyone when it comes to our kids and their education.”
McGilbra has ran for a position on the board in the past. She expressed a desire to be involved with the children and give back to the community. She has been active in a number of youth groups over the years but found it difficult to be fully engaged with it along with her job.
Running unopposed for Position 5 is Bo Williams. The seat is currently held by Mark Bennett, who decided not to run for reelection.
Williams is an MCISD graduate with three children who currently go to school in the district. His wife is an eighth grade math teacher. Upon graduation from MHS, he went to work at Mid-South Synergy, where he has been ever since.
“I wanted to run because of the opportunity to serve a community that I was born and raised in,” said Williams. “I want to help make sound decisions to help everyone in the community and school district.”
While there is not anything specific Williams has a desire to change from the normal operations of the current board, he believes that he can bring a different outlook on the basis of learning a trade.
“The value of a college education is very important and cannot be overstated,” said Williams. “But I believe a strong work ethic is just as crucial. You can be successful with learning a trade and working hard at it.”
Tuesday was the final day for early voting. Saturday will be election day across the county and poles are located at Madisonville City Hall, Midway City Hall and the Bedias Community Center.