Victoria school board District 4 candidates discussed teacher pay, the May 1 bond proposal and pandemic during a Wednesday debate.
The candidates for the seat are Amanda Lingle, a 43-year-old substitute teacher, and Dale Zuck, a 64-year-old insurance agent. Ross Mansker currently holds the seat and is not running for reelection.
Zuck and Lingle agreed that teacher pay raises are needed at the Victoria school district.
Experienced teachers are leaving the district at a high rate because they are not getting paid enough, Zuck said.
If elected, he would like to move money from the Interest and Sinking budget to the Maintenance and Operation budget to allow for teacher raises, he said.
Lingle said if the bond passes, that will leave more money on the operating side of the budget that can go toward teacher salaries. But there are options if the bond does not pass.
She would like to use House Bill 3, which passed in the 2019 legislative session. The bill allows the state and district to set up an evaluation program, and the state will give some funding, which can be used for teacher raises, to the district.
As for the $156.8 million bond proposal, the two are split.
Lingle believes the new schools will bring more economic opportunity to the community. The most important part of the bond, for Lingle, is the $58 million that would go to district-wide repairs.
“I personally am voting for the bond,” she said. Lingle served on the bond’s planning committee. “I think it is great for our kids, teachers and community.”
Zuck, who also served on the bond planning committee, does not support this bond proposal. He said he supports a bond, but he believes this is not the right proposal for Victoria, he said.
We have a lot of things that are going wrong in the schools,” Zuck said. He believes maintenance has been lacking in the district. “We need better budgeting.”
The candidates also discussed how the district responded to the COVID-19 pandemic and what it means for education moving forward.
Zuck said he was disappointed that schools closed during the pandemic and students were moved to learn remotely. This means students are behind on their learning and the district will need to hire better teachers to help those students catch up.
“We need our children in the classroom,” he said. “Children by law of nature need structure.”
Lingle said she was impressed with how quickly the district established remote learning and was able to distribute technology for students. She would have liked to see more explanation on how to operate the at-home learning systems though, she said.
Children learn best in the classroom where they are free from at-home distractions, Lingle said. In the classroom, students learn how to work as a team and those key emotional and social aspects of school.
Candidates for the Victoria school board District 2 seat will debate on April 14.