By George Slaughter
Michael Dillard, a human resources executive, is seeking his first term on the Katy Independent School District Board of Trustees. He is seeking position 4 on the board. Incumbent Courtney Doyle is not seeking reelection.
Dillard is facing Leah Wilson, a retired U.S. Air Force veteran.
1. Why do you want this job?
I want to serve Katy ISD because I have a unique skill set (teaching and human resources background) that would be an excellent addition to the school board. I understand the challenges teachers face as well as our 80,000+ students. Additionally, I would work to bridge the gap in the community to work together as one Katy moving forward. Being an educator myself, you never outgrow the classroom, you just bring those experiences with your work to improve your community
2. Briefly discuss your professional background, and how that will help you if elected.
I am a former elementary school teacher. Education runs deep in my family history. Much of my love of teaching comes from my mother, who was a 25+ year-plus year educator with Beaumont Independent School District. My wife who is in her 10th year as an elementary school teacher (eight with Katy ISD) has a huge impact on my desire to serve the district. Our three children are on the honor roll and involved in extra-curricular activities. I strongly support the district’s special education (SPED) program, having two children with their own 504 plans. Currently I am a seasoned human resources professional who builds strategic relationships and creates solutions that support corporate values and objectives. I have volunteered thousands of hours in the district along with serving on numerous committees.
3. If elected, what would your top three priorities for the district be, and why?
COVID-19 and distance learning, as well as safety in the unknown, are the biggest challenges that Katy ISD is currently facing. As a board member I would work to provide whatever tools the administration feels necessary to provide the best education, in the safest way possible. Continued transparency and ongoing, timely communication from the district with parents, teachers and staff, and the public are paramount. Teacher feedback on what is working well and what might need tweaking is equally important. They are the ones in the trenches, interfacing with 80,000+ students (in-person instruction and KVA) daily. Adapting and evolving will be crucial in the next few months.
Growth remains a continuing challenge in Katy ISD, especially in the northwest quadrant of the district, at the same time maintaining excellent facilities in the remainder of the district. To stay ahead of growth and meet these challenges, a community-oriented bond must be detailed and submitted to the voters for approval. Also, completing past bond projects efficiently and on-time remains a priority. As the district grows, staffing is an issue. With my human resources and education background, I am committed to keeping and recruiting the very best for Katy ISD.
Human trafficking is here in Katy and is a major concern for the young women in our district as well as various nationalities. Every single life matters and as a district we must do all we can to protect our students from outside influences. Train school personnel to recognize and respond to the signs of trafficking. Develop and implement a trafficking protocol. Offer a prevention curriculum to students. See something, say something; save a life.
4. Do you anticipate that the Katy Virtual Academy (KVA) will become a permanent option for students, even when the pandemic comes under control? What measures would you support to ensure all KISD students have access to needed technology for virtual learning?
If COVID-19 numbers continue their downward trend I don’t anticipate KVA will be a permanent option. The decision will be made based upon recommendations from the CDC and proper health officials, along with district experts. Students learn most effectively when they are in-person and it is a boost to their social and emotional growth. I support the measures in place currently that Katy ISD has implemented to get technology in the hands of every student for KVA. Every student that has needed a technology device has had the opportunity to receive one in order to access the vast resources that KVA has to offer.
5. How have you been able to campaign, given the pandemic restrictions (avoiding large gatherings, social distancing, and so forth)?
The pandemic has changed the way in which we live, and campaigning is no exception. I’ve had to think outside of the box regarding how to campaign while being socially distant and avoiding large crowds. This has resulted in utilizing creative methods to reach the community and share my platform with them. It’s been challenging but rewarding.
6. Is there anything else about your candidacy that Katy News readers should know?
Volunteering and giving back to my community are what drives me. I volunteer my time through a variety of different avenues. Whether it be as an elementary school catechist for my church, participating in Junior Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) fundraising efforts in honor of my daughter, coaching youth sports throughout Katy, visiting seniors at area nursing homes, teaching Junior Achievement or reading in the classrooms, helping with PTA projects or serving on Katy ISD committees; each experience holds a special place in my heart.