Being absolutely clear about my stance of mandatory vaccines
1.   Will you promote and encourage COVID-19 vaccine use by DSISD students and staff? [Suggesting vaccine]
2.   Will you support making the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for students and staff? [Forcing vaccine]
Absolutely not.
3.   Will you oppose any and all actions that penalize or offer special benefits/incentives to those students or staff who have or have not received the COVID-19 vaccine?
It depends and the answer is fluid. 
The public school system must treat all students/families fairly. It's easy to imagine a situation where a student/staff refuses to wear a mask or be vaccinated being in the same proximity as a student/staff who takes the pandemic seriously and adheres to strict safety guidelines.  We'll have to figure out fair individual solutions.
To add additional complexity, the equation changes nearly every week.
The only solution that I know is mentioned below - we need an agreed-upon metric from an agreed-upon expert source. Historically, I've pointed to the CDC as the source, but I'm not necessarily wedded to this. It might be the state or even the county - but the key point is that we agree on the source and metric.

Observations of 26-April School Board Meeting
On 26-April, I attended the last meeting of the DSISD School Board before the 1-May election. There was a full house with a mix of attendees, some supporting various award recipients and others who planned an anti-mask movement. 
We should all be proud of our award recipients; the commitment and support to the success of staff and students was evident. However, a few anti-mask people brought protest signs and most of them tried to establish a belligerent posture by removing their masks during the awards ceremony.
The public forum ran for 1 hour, ~30 minutes where registered speakers were allotted 3 minutes to make their statements to the board. There were a few that brought up other topics, but most of the content was pertaining to masks. The discussion points generally fell into these categories:
1.  Attacking the Board – Most speakers were passionate but cordial, while a few clearly lacked common courtesy.
2.  Stating medical opinions – Speakers quoted unsubstantiated “research” results from their Google searches.
3.  Testifying to pandemic trauma – Some of these struggles were very real and heart wrenching; others seem somewhat exaggerated.
For me, these arguments are not overly effective. Ironically, several parents boasted about not wearing masks: “I’ve been going to Gold’s Gym and HEB for weeks without a mask and I’m fine!” This illustrates the exact problem facing the public school system. As per the experts at the CDC, the purpose of wearing a mask is to protect others. If our community members do not understand or care beyond themselves, all of us are disenfranchised.
However, there were two points made at the meeting that I completely agree with:
1.  School mask policies should be consistent – A couple of speakers gave examples that should be addressed.
2.  A metric for success should be established – We don’t have an agreed-upon measurement to determine acceptable risk.
The most sensible action would be to jointly decide on an authoritative source and establish a metric for acceptable risk. I can imagine a variety of methods, but without knowing an acceptable risk value, we might end up with perpetual and unnecessary defenses. Conversely, we might end up lowering our defenses prematurely and risk escalating the number of COVID infections.
We are SO CLOSE to getting through an exceedingly difficult time. We all want to get past this. I strongly suggest changing the dialog to reach consensus and to jointly work together.
Lastly, after the public forum all but 14 people left the meeting. There was an entire agenda of important DSISD topics, and the School Board worked on until after midnight. This illustrates exactly my concern and the risk of single-issue board candidates.

What exactly is my opinion on making masks optional for the fall semester?
I put the safety of our children and staff at the highest priority. That said, I’m an Engineer, not an Infectious Disease Specialist, and I do not believe policy should be built on opinions from non-specialists – yes, even a qualified Psychiatrist.
The DSISD has done a great job in an exceedingly difficult situation. Believe me, I dislike wearing masks as much as anyone; and my hope is that we'll be able to move past this soon. Even a medical layperson (as I) must recognize the main benefit of a mask is to protect those you're around by restricting airborne droplets when speaking, singing, coughing, sneezing, etc.
Those in our community who put their own convenience and opinions ahead of CDC recommendations are putting us all at greater risk. It is my hope we don’t make unnecessary choices prolonging the mask inconvenience; but when considering the overall safety of our public school system, I cannot see that going against CDC guidance is a good choice.

What do you think of mandated vaccines for all children and DSISD staff? Would you support mandating vaccines or proof of negative COVID tests to attend school activities?
It seems sensible to work towards having both students and staff all vaccinated and tested to provide as much protection as possible. We are actively doing this now with incredible efforts like the First Medical Response of Texas, for example.
No matter how appealing mandated vaccinations might seem, it is not realistic to rely on this approach. Considering all the legal cases over the years with the anti-vaccination movement, I think mandatory vaccinations will ultimately not be successful.
It's tough because statistically the risk seems close to insignificant - but that doesn't give a lot of comfort to someone who has a sick child. My father died of COVID and it made these “insignificant risk numbers” quite a bit more real.
Sure, I understand how inconvenient all of this has been over the last year, but I think rushing away from protective measures doesn't make sense.

With the rapid growth and diversity of DSISD, what kinds of policies, if any, will you pursue to promote social and racial justice, equity and inclusion?
Diversity, equity, and inclusion are crucially important. Every part of the Dripping Springs Independent School District should welcome all students of every ethnicity, religion, nationality, socioeconomic background, etc. I believe in dialogue, interactive learning and teaching, and mutually respectful conversation. The staff should listen closely, speak from principles, and seek to make DSISD ever more inclusive.
In my Video Response section, a term I frequently use is ‘Foundational Values’ and their importance. What I’m describing is basic kindness, manners, and compassion. These values affect many daily aspects of life; empathy for others, respecting the elderly, kindness to animals and to the Earth, thoughtfulness, etc.
Dripping Springs is growing fast and changing. I support policies and curriculum focusing on education of different cultures, people, languages, and a general awareness of how our actions can have a positive effect on the Earth.

What’s your position on local control, or local policy? Are there any current local board policies that you would like to see changed?
DSISD voted to participate in the District of Innovation in 2016, and the District of Innovation Committee is reconvening and making a recommendation in May 2021. There are many details in the Innovation plan from the last five years, but generally the plan seems to strike a good balance between compliancy with flexibility.
It's important that DSISD create an environment to develop and support students, employees, and families in flexible, effective methods. The goal of the system is to provide an environment that can meet individualized needs. 

As a community member, which goal of the district’s five-year plan do you like the best? Which do you like the least and how would you change it?
While I support all levels of the 2016-2021 Strategic/Innovation Plan, my favorite aspect of the plan is the focus on Community Partnerships. The Dripping Springs community is changing. It is important to welcome new residents and continue to value existing residents. We are all living in a small community and many aspects of the community influence children’s development.
Dripping Springs is a collection of people with a surprisingly varied mix of experience. I’ve been introduced to many people during the Trustee campaign, and I’ve been blown away by the different paths of life people have taken to Dripping Springs. This experience and diversity create fantastic opportunities for our children's (and all of our) development.
With the final bond item (the administration renovation and relocation), the 12 current bond items will be completed. What do you identify as the most pressing issues that the board must consider in the next three years?
Even though the growth rate somewhat slowed in 2020, I fully expect the growth to significantly increase once we get closer to a post-pandemic normality. The construction rate in the Dripping Springs area continues at an incredible pace, and we continue to see technology companies moving to the Greater Austin area.
I’m pleased with the construction of a new Walnut Springs Elementary next to the Dripping Springs Middle School. However, I think it is likely we will need an additional Elementary school on the DSID property in the Headwaters neighborhood within the next three years.
Lastly, I’d like to see our buildings have a greater alternative energy emphasis. Not only will this reduce our energy consumption, but it's also ideal advertisement to show a modern and forward-looking school district. I can imagine programs like the Dripping Springs High School ‘Fab Lab’ giving students the experience of developing alternative energy knowledge.

As a school board member, what solutions would you advocate for school funding?
The school board seems to have done a good job with the difficulties of keeping ahead in the growth of the area. It is clearly important to continue the process while creating the next 5-year strategic plan, and hopefully we will be able to move past the short-term pandemic mode.
It feels important to investigate options for more corporate sponsorships. While fully complying with the ‘Partnering with DSISD Guidelines,’ this might be a method of leveraging the investment occurring in the Austin Area. I'd like to create reciprocal partnerships making Dripping Springs attractive to the technology industry and increasing the industry involvement.
How would you grade the district’s COVID-19 response so far and what, if anything, would you have done differently if on the board?
The pandemic has been exceedingly difficult on school systems. Dripping Springs has maintained comparatively low numbers and seems successful with complex contact tracing. It is imperative to not reduce our diligence in the next months.
How would you approach challenges associated with DSISD’s rapid growth in the coming years, including the ongoing process to redraw elementary school boundaries?
In these days of distance and online learning, I hope to have the opportunity to offer innovative ideas to give our school system first-rate capabilities. Additionally, I look forward to planning effective boundaries reflecting rapid population changes. My goal is to upgrade and expand existing schools and hire more teachers and aids to manage the educational needs of an increasing student population. All expansion planning must be accomplished with responsible and transparent use of funding.
How do you approach diversity in our students and families, and how do you think this will impact you as a School Board member?
After reviewing the Demographic Study Presentation*, it is obvious we need policies in place to ensure no students are underrepresented. The Board’s responsibility is to create a long-term plan for facility and staffing requirements. It is also important the 5-year plan is a living document to periodically adjusted or confirmed to demographic statistics.
It is especially important doing the growth we're experiencing to work together and ensure the community supports and embraces diversity. Whether ethnicity, religious beliefs, socioeconomic conditions, or otherwise – supporting diversity builds a stronger community.
What approach to sex education does DSISD employ, and would you like to see it changed?
The Dripping Springs system follows the Texas Education Code, and I generally agree with the resulting DSISD curriculum. I'm surprised that health and hygiene is not emphasized more at a younger age, but it might be taught at the discretion of the teacher.
The only potential change I'd investigate is more protection against cyber-sex abuse. Ultimately this topic should be addressed in collaboration with parents, but considering how early kids are surrounded by technology, this topic is important.
What are your thoughts on transparency within school boards and decision-making, and do you believe DSISD has been transparent enough? Why or why not?
The Dripping Springs ISD reporting of financials, budgets, and minutes seems proper and effective. While appropriate confidentiality is an obvious requirement, the Board of Trustees’ transparency is fundamental for success.
What are your priorities beginning in May if elected?
Gather information from teachers, parents and staff, create a long-term strategy and ensure all resource requirements are met. I think all school systems have a lot of work to transition to a post-COVID system. While long-term programs are important, it is critical to get our students back to a balanced system of learning.
If elected, what goals would you have for your term in office?
I believe in creating student opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). In the Austin area, the Engineering community is growing dramatically. My goal is to assist in the development of complementary partnerships and appealing education programs in Dripping Springs.

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