Lindquist wants to see continuity on Board
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
The cohesion and relationships among members of the Liberty Hill ISD Board of Trustees are factors Scott Lindquist feels should not be overlooked as he campaigns for reelection to Place 7 on the board.
“We have such a diverse and good group right now and it takes you a good year to year and a half to get comfortable in there, with what you’re doing, not to mention what you can do as a school board member,” he said.
Seeking his second term, Lindquist says keeping the board intact is the best way to keep the district on track.
“The amount of meetings we’ve had to have with everything going on has really brought us much closer together as a group and I really think that is what would be good for the district going forward,” he said. “It’s not a knock on anyone, but if they come in they will have to take six months to a year to get comfortable with their position and everybody else and what is that going to cause during that time?”
The Board has just begun the process of building a new strategic plan, something he has long supported and wants to be a part of.
“We’ve wanted a strategic plan for the district,” he said. “What are we going to do over the next five years, 10 years, 15 years with our growth plan? We can’t wait and say when it gets here we’ll adjust. We have got to start getting ahead of that. That’s a really exciting thing for me. That’s going to involve community members, teachers and everybody throughout the community.”
He knows the community keeps one eye on growth as it keeps the other on how to maintain all the qualities that made Liberty Hill the place they wanted to be.
“They say they like small-town Liberty Hill,” he said. “Well, okay, how do we get those things you want into what we are. That’s what we’re trying to get to. Do you like our values, our culture, our heritage? How can we keep those in our school district because it is growing? No matter what we want we’re never going to be little Liberty Hill.”
How the bond process works is something Lindquist knows can be confusing and frustrating for voters, but having been through the process as a bond committee member for the Rancho Sienna bond and then on the board for the last bond, he said it is important for people to remember that these bonds don’t raise tax rates and are simply the reality of a district growing so quickly.
“I got to see (the committee) side of it before I got to see the school board side of it. Once you are on the school board you see different sides of it and what other school districts are doing and all the things going on,” he said. “We’re not increasing taxes, we’re accessing the funds available from the added houses, the property values going up, but it is not us raising taxes to do it. It is the available amount of funds there through the growth.”
If the district and voters were ready, Lindquist wishes Liberty Hill could take a page from other high-growth districts and look at a larger bond on the ballot, that would approve funds over a period of time, as bonding capacity was available, to avoid having to restart the bond process every few years.
“The government oversees this and they legally only allow you to get to a percentage of what you have the capacity for, and then it’s secure,” he said. “But the community, I feel like, thinks we are just taxing people to death. It’s the way the system was set up and it is what the schools have to do. There’s no other way.”
Small ways the board manages bond funds, such as the recent investment of current monies, show how responsible the district is when it comes to financial decisions.
“We’ve got that bond that we’re not using the money right away on, so we’ve got that invested where we’re going to make more off of that being invested than we are with it sitting in a bank account,” Lindquist said. “So we signed up, did that, voted on it and got that approved so we’re actually letting that money make us more money which helps us either pay debt down earlier or increase bond capacity.”
Lindquist had hoped working out all the details of establishing a police presence in the district would not have taken as long as it has, but the process has allowed LHISD to reach the best solution for everyone.
“It was more of a cost-savings to start with a SRO (School Resource Officer) program for the district,” he said. “I think that was the way we were originally looking to go based on the simple fact that we needed to get something going and it was the most cost-effective way to get going.
“I don’t think anybody ever thought it wasn’t best for us to have our own school district police force, but when you start that up it’s a complete different cost factor than starting up an SRO program,” he said, adding that through the lengthy negotiations the opportunity arose to move forward with a department. “It made it to where we could get to our end result almost as easily as we could starting with an SRO program. With the City helping out the way they did it got us to where we ultimately wanted to be without that added expense to start. It became the best of both words saving us money short-term and it saved the City money long-term.”
The drug testing program is something he supports because he believes it is not about punishment, but about getting students help who may need it and serving as a deterrent.
“I hear everyone talk about every different side of this,” he said. “It’s against this, it’s against their First Amendment rights, but my thing is if I had a son doing things I didn’t know he was doing I would rather find out so I could get them help rather than look at this as a punishment. Parents say they know what their kids are doing and not doing. But when the rubber meets the road they really don’t. I’d say the same thing about my kids and several families I know.”
The district’s budget process is solid, but Lindquist says he always wants to focus on building reserves as much as possible.
“We have people who have their expertise and that’s what they do,” Lindquist said. “They bring it to us and we look at different things. I like to see, as we are growing and our income revenue growing, our fund balance growing with it. I know when you add a school that puts a strain on your fund balance, so there’s a give and take with everything we do because how fast we’re growing.”
While the growth in academic and career training opportunities is important to Lindquist, he wants to make sure students are graduating ready for the expectations and responsibilities of the adult world.
“Because of the way the state regulates and mandates everything we almost baby our kids,” he said. “When they go to college they’re not always prepared for the real life of the professor going ‘I don’t care if you slept in today. I don’t care if your paper is five minutes late.’ To me, I’d rather see kids completely prepared and get a C, than I would see them make an A and go to college and feel like it is really hard. I’d rather we be a little harder on them here, and I realize that might upset some parents.
“It’s not a Liberty Hill thing, because I’ve got friends in Leander, in Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth and it is a statewide and nationwide thing where high schools in general baby students because there are parents who get upset if their kids don’t get an A.”
The transfer question doesn’t worry Lindquist as it is one the district is always evaluating and the numbers become a smaller percentage of the district population every year.
“I don’t want it to impact us negatively, but there are a whole bunch of variables that go into it and as long as we’re not having to add schools or add teachers because of transfers it is not impacting us negatively.”