Race for NZISD school board

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Two incumbents on the North Zulch ISD school board will be challenged for their positions in the upcoming general election on Nov. 6.

Position 2 on the board is currently held by Rodney Murphy, who will be challenged by Becky Wilson. Position 3 incumbent Karl Radde looks to hold off challenger Steve Disererns to retain his spot of the board.

“The board and superintendent form a team that I am proud to be a part of as an individual,” said Radde. “None of us have any single accomplishments that we can claim as solely ours. During my time on board, we have built a new high school, gym and cafeteria/auditorium. We have hired qualified superintendents to lead NZISD and have continually brought in highly qualified teachers to teach our students.”

Radde was pleased with the current board’s work in challenging situations, most recently when they faced a district rating of ‘Improvement Required.’ Just a year later, the district earned a rating of ‘Met Standards,’ or a ‘B+’ in the new accountability rating system.

“As with most districts in the state, accountability ratings and testing along with school funding will be a large focus of our upcoming legislative session,” said Radde. “I look forward to working with our representatives in Austin to continue to keep Texas students and teachers at the forefront of education finance discussions in hopes of obtaining a better funding mechanism for public schools.”

Steve Diserens did not respond to our request for an interview.

The other contested position is between incumbent Rodney Murphy and challenger Becky Wilson. Murphy took over the position in February after Charles Drake retired.

“I have been getting accustomed to the role since stepping in and am very excited with the leadership offered by Superintendent (Alan) Andrus and the work our principals are doing,” said Murphy. “As a parent, child safety is one of the most critical challenges facing all school districts. We have worked to ensure that our students are aware of their surroundings and can feel safe at school.

“I have been pleased with the work the board has done and hope I get a chance to further serve the kids and our community.”

Becky Wilson is a graduate of North Zulch and Texas A&M with a degree in Elementary Education. She specialized in teaching reading and minored in early childhood. She spent a 33-year career in a number of educational positions and worked in College Station ISD, Bryan ISD and NZISD before she retired in 2015.

“I would like to be a part of the board to provide support for students and teachers as the demands of testing increases and the state continues to make changes to the curriculum,” said Wilson. “Each year, the passing standards for the state assessments increase. Students are not just expected to pass, but are expected to pass with higher scores. Making sure that all students at NZISD are reaching that higher score is a challenge as well as providing the proper resources and training for teachers.”

In Positions 4 and 5, current board members Tammy Gilbert and President Brian Baker are running unopposed on Nov. 6. Both incumbents also praised the current staff at NZISD and are excited to continue to help the district grow in the right direction.

“The staff has really dedicated themselves and the amount of improvement in test scores is quite an accomplishment for the district,” said Gilbert. “The biggest challenge will be keeping our great staff together and avoiding a big turnover. Also, the number of students will continue to grow without the same increase in funding. We will need to do more with less.”

“We have as good of a staff and administration here as we ever had,” said Baker, who has served on the board since 2008. “With the constant changes in the state and senate, finances will always be one of our top challenges as we do not always know where the next funds are going to come from.”

Early voting for the general election is underway and will last until Nov. 2 at the Madison County Courthouse as well as North Zulch ISD. The ballot will provide an option to vote straight Republican, Democrat and Libertarian, but this does not apply to the school board races.

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