James Richmond Villarreal
Tyler Jr. College, University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
Assistant Parks Director – Waxahachie Sports Complex
Why are you running for office?
My decision to run is primarily because of my love and commitment to this district and community. Like the current trustees, I will be devoted to making WISD the best in education. I want to continue the WISD tradition of excellence and help contribute to the future of our children’s education. I want to serve and give back to the community that has provided for me and my family.
Have you served on the school board before?
I served as WISD Trustee from 2015-2018 with two of those years as board president.
If so, when? If there has been a gap in service, please explain.
At the end of my term in 2018, I thought I was finished serving at trustee but, after being off for a year, I’ve decided I’m not finished serving and if it’s the will of the community I would like to keep serving the students and staff of this wonderful district.
Do you have relatives that work for the school district? If so, please list their name and position.
For over 20 years, my lovely wife has worked for WISD as PE coach, art teacher, computer teacher, elementary school secretary and now she currently is employed at the administration building. Once I filed, my wife Laura Villarreal has stated on numerous occasions that, if I’m elected, she’s open to transfer from her current position.
Do you have relatives that are elected officials in Ellis County? If so, please list their name and position.
Each entity in the county operates independent of one another and makes decisions solely on its own accord. I’m not sure how this question is applicable to WISD. However, I would like to commend the three major entities (Ellis County, city of Waxahachie and WISD) we have in Waxahachie as they work extremely well together, which is unheard of in many other cities.
How will you address any conflict of interest, if elected?
I will handle conflict of interest the same way I handled them from 2015-2018 with the following law: The Texas Association of School Boards under Conflicts of Interest: Nepotism Continuous Employment Exception. Related individuals must be employed with the district at least six months prior to the trustee being elected. If a board member’s relative works for the district under the continuous employment exception, the related board member must abstain from participating in any deliberations or voting on actions that affect only the board member’s relative. Tex. Gov’t Code 573.062 (b)
Please discuss your No. 1 goal (and any specific plans relating to that goal) you have for your office, if elected.
Growth – One of the top issues facing our district is our fast paced rate of growth, which I believe is right at 4% per year. In 2018, the city of Waxahachie issued 600 single family home permits and I know that 500 homes equates for the need of one new school. As a district, we need to continue to develop long range plans to effectively address our growth needs including classroom capacity as well as adequate staffing. Plans should include methods of better utilizing existing infrastructure such as Dunaway, Northside and Shackleford Elementary schools, as well as continuing working along with a demographer to prepare for future space. It is imperative to have policies and procedures in place to address the continual and anticipated growth and need for space in this district whether in aged or new infrastructure. We need to support our teachers as professionals and give them the ability to focus on educating our students in a non-crowded safe environment.
Please discuss your No. 2 goal (and any specific plans relating to that goal) you have for your office, if elected.
Safety and Security – WISD needs to be on the cutting edge of safety and security to keep our students and staff safe at all times, as well as continue to add to the School Resource Officer program. The district currently employs two SROs and needs to continue to partner with the city of Waxahachie PD or even the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office to build on it. In August of 2018, Gov. Gregg Abbott released the school safety action plan. In his summary, he listed Waxahachie ISD, in particular, has taken extensive steps to increase the number of campus-based security personnel. The district is implementing a School Marshal Program with a goal of appointing at least one appropriately qualified and trained school marshal at each campus of the district. WISD has also opted to implement a Guardian Plan, with select volunteers meeting appropriate qualifications to undergo training similar to that required of school marshals.
Is there anything else you would like to share with voters?
If elected as trustee, I believe it is very important to be open, truthful and understanding of the fact that you represent the people of this community. As a trustee you have to be the voice for the students. The line of communication has to be open for a trustee to give their opinion on matters concerning the district, but understanding that you are working with seven others on the board and at times you may have to set your personal opinions aside in order to make the best decisions for the students and the district.
As a product of Waxahachie, I love the small hometown feel. Unfortunately, the writing is on the wall and we are growing. I am for the future of WISD students and support providing a safe, suitable learning environment. It would be an honor for me to serve as trustee and hope you will support me.