With elections right around the corner, Midlothian ISD Board of Trustee candidates were put on the hot seat.
The three candidates established their platforms and were then questioned by Midlothian students live on Facebook. Candidate Bobby Soto is running unopposed for Place 5 on the board while current board president Matt Sanders and candidate Crystal Rentz are the candidates for Place 4.
Early voting runs from April 22-26 and April 29-30 with Election Day on Saturday, May 4.
Soto grew up in Irving and earned a bachelor's and master's degree from Dallas Baptist University. He started working for the university after graduation and moved to Midlothian a couple years ago.
“Working in the field of higher education has been wonderful,” he said.
He lives in Midlothian with his wife and two kids, who are in kindergarten and first grade.
“It’s actually the schools that brought us to Midlothian,” Soto noted.
He decided to run for school board because he wants to give back to the community that accepted him here.
“I have a heart to serve,” he said. “Service is a passion of mine.”
As a trustee, he plans to focus on bullying issues in schools. He said it is an issue that continues to evolve with the age of technology and social media. With advancement, bullying expands outside of the school and follows students constantly.
School financing is a hot topic in the legislative session, and the candidates touched on that.
Soto said he would look to grants to help finance schools.
A focus for Midlothian is educating students holistically.
Soto noted he wants students to become leaders. The academic part is important, but he strives to have students be successful beyond the classroom.
“My desire is to serve my community with the other members of the board,” he said. “We all want what’s best for our students.”
Sanders is the current board president and has served for about six years in multiple capacities.
He has lived in Midlothian for 23 years, and his wife of 22 years teachers at JR Irvin Elementary. His two kids both attended Midlothian Heritage High School. His son is a freshman in college and his daughter is a freshman at Heritage.
“I feel that everybody needs to serve their community,” he said. “It should be our responsibility.”
That service can range from serving as a little league coach to volunteering at a local hospital, Sanders noted to name a few.
“It’s what makes our world a better place,” he added.
He noted that he has served on other boards and takes those experiences to the board. He said he works in construction and combined that with what he sees from his wife as an educator.
Midlothian is a fortunate district, Sanders said.
Despite that, he looks at how the district can be improved. He said he wants MISD students to be able to go to the real world and articulate well. He wants students to be comfortable in their skin and have the district help them get there.
Sanders said reaching the whole child is about making districts a comfortable place for students to open up.
“Our teachers and our staff do an excellent job of that already,” he said.
One thing he hopes the state will look at is the social and emotional aspect of young kids.
“The state looks at kids kind of in a product method,” Sanders said.
Instead of using that method, he thinks students will benefit from learning how to cope with other kids. He said he plans to go beyond the state expectations.
Rentz has been an educator for 18 years and has two kids under 5 years of age.
“I’m just really excited about what’s going on in Midlothian,” she said. “I just want to use my experience in education and as a parent to keep it going.”
She noted that in high school she struggled because she was diagnosed with ADHD. It’s one of the reasons she went into education.
Rentz has been a teacher, an administrator and a parent of a child with special needs, but now she looks at taking those experiences to the school board.
“On the board, you need a variety of background and lenses,” she added. “I can provide a different lens.”
The primary skills set the students in MISD need to expand on is leadership skills, she mentioned. Every year technology is changing and wants students to learn deeper skills to set them apart.
“Instead of just playing on the computer, we want them to be programming that computer,” she said.
Rentz said children need to be taught how to be a part of the global society. Looking at the whole child includes their health and wellness.
“Even though the state says its one score that defines if the child is where they need to be, we need to be looking at so much more than that,” she added.
In regards for school funding, Rentz noted partnerships may be a great avenue to look at for additional income. An example of that currently in Midlothian is the Career and Technology classes.
She said the school board is really a team, and she would offer a different view to that team.
“I will make sure that I make my voice heard, and I am an active participant,” she said.
Samantha Douty, @SamanthaDouty