With three spots up for grabs on the school board, Pilot Point will see active contests for two of them.

Incumbent Melanie Billmeier will work to keep her Place 5 seat from challenger Jacob Stuckly. Current Place 7 board member Dan Flagg will step down as Jason Pool and Ashley Dennis vie for his seat.

Kevin Ware will take over the Place 6 seat from Dana Braack, who decided not to run for re-election.

Whoever wins those seats will be tasked with formulating policies related to armed staff members. The school board recently voted to allow select teachers to carry firearms next year and is working with a security company to implement procedures and training.

The district also has seen two bond packages fail in recent years by slim margins.

The school board put forth two propositions totaling $13.2 million in 2017 that would fund campus improvements, a new band hall and agriculture facility, football stadium upgrades and new ball fields. The first proposal was defeated by 59 votes, and the second was rejected by 148 votes.

A similar $13.6 million bond proposal failed in 2016 with 55.9 percent of voters against the measure.

The Denton Record-Chronicle caught up with the candidates in contested races and asked them about issues happening within the district. The candidates are listed in the order they appear on the ballot, and each interview has been edited lightly for space and clarity.

Place 5

Melanie Billmeier

Hometown: Saint Jo

Education: associate's, bachelor's and master's degrees in radiological sciences from Midwestern State University

Work experience: director of radiology at North Central Texas College

Community service: served three years on Pilot Point school board, vice president of operations for Pilot Point Educational Foundation, served three years on Pilot Point parks and recreation board, preschool program volunteer at Midway Baptist Church

Website: on Facebook at Billmeier for School Board 2018

The board recently voted to start arming teachers next year. How should the board implement that plan going forward to ensure maximum safety for everyone?

The first thing we need is intensive training for anyone that will be armed. That should include a psychiatric evaluation. People can also get licensed to carry during the training program.

The company that we're working with can do that as well. I think this is a continual and ongoing program that needs to be constantly evaluated and updated as new scenarios arise.

The district has done consistently well on STAAR tests and even won a few distinctions in recent years. What are your thoughts on the state standardized testing?

I think any standardized test is a horrible measurement of student and teachers abilities. At this time, that's what we're forced to comply with. I don't think there's any one tool that can measure all the gifts and talents that students and teachers possess. Any standardized test is not fair because it is just one tool.

The district has had a string of failing bond packages. With that lack of community support in mind, how would you go about being a good steward of taxpayer dollars and wishes while still maintaining good infrastructure?

We have to have continuous feedback from community members and groups within the community. We have to maintain responsible relationships with our chief financial officer in maintaining the goals of district. We need to see where things can be worked out creatively with the budget.

Since we didn't have support for a big package, we have to work to piece it together and continue to work with our staff and community to make sure everyone is in agreement.

Jacob Stuckly

Hometown: Pilot Point

Education: attended North Central Texas College in Gainesville

Work experience: field service representative for McCord Engineering

Community service: coach for Pilot Point Youth Sports Association, volunteered with high school agriculture program

Website: on Facebook at Jacob Stuckly for School Board

The board recently voted to start arming teachers next year. How should the board implement that plan going forward to ensure maximum safety for everyone?

I don't think you can ever have a school that's too safe. There's never an easy answer for situations like this, but something needed to be done. The board needs to make sure everyone who wants to be armed has proper training. You'd like to see people who have some basic training already. If we have anyone with military or law enforcement backgrounds, get them. The board also needs to stress gun safety and require time at a gun range. Psychological evaluations wouldn't hurt either.

The district has done consistently well on STAAR tests and even won a few distinctions in recent years. What are your thoughts on the state standardized testing?

I'm not sure if it does anything to help them. I don't think you can base teachers and students off one test. I think there's a lot of other things you could use to grade those performances. A lot of kids get nervous when tests go around and I don't think it's an accurate representation of what students can do.

The district has had a string of failing bond packages. With that lack of community support in mind, how would you go about being a good steward of taxpayer dollars and wishes while still maintaining good infrastructure?

Obviously, you need the support of the community and we haven't seen that. I don't know if the community felt ignored or if they didn't vote for it because they didn't want it. I do think it needs to be laid out clearly. I'd be all for a bond, but I don't see the need for one if it's not going to pass. I think it goes a long way to get the input of people in the community and hear their ideas of what we need and where we should be headed.

Place 7

Jason Pool

Hometown: Dallas

Education: bachelor's degree in engineering from Texas A&M University

Work experience: self-employed civil engineer who contracts with the towns of Providence Village and Cross Roads

Community service: treasurer on the First United Methodist Church of Pilot Point board of trustees, treasurer of the Parkside Estates Homeowners Association, vice president of the Pilot Point ISD band boosters

Website: none

The board recently voted to start arming teachers next year. How should the board implement that plan going forward to ensure maximum safety for everyone?

Safety is a sticky issue. The more questions you ask, the more information that's out in the open on safety plans. If people are armed on campus, they need to have adequate training so they can use their firearms safely in a stressful situation. Adding school resource officers is definitely a good thing as well. When I went to the last board meeting, the board met with a security company for four hours. That tells me they aren't going to rush to implement this and they're putting a lot of thought into it.

The district has done consistently well on STAAR tests and even won a few distinctions in recent years. What are your thoughts on the state standardized testing?

I find it frustrating because we put a lot of time and effort into this one test. It's a very thin line schools have to straddle. If kids don't do well, they get in trouble with the state. But if teachers teach to the test, then that's not really helping kids learn anything. We need a metric that doesn't suck up resources. To tie up resources on an exit test, what are we sacrificing for those resources?

The district has had a string of failing bond packages. With that lack of community support in mind, how would you go about being a good steward of taxpayer dollars and wishes while still maintaining good infrastructure?

Bond elections are a necessity for school districts. I voted for both because I was willing to take the tax hit to fund the things I believed the district needed. I'm not surprised that they both failed because the district put out basically the same bond package, which was heavy on sports with little academics. I don't know if we'll need another election, but if we do, I'd like a little more transparency. Maybe we could figure out what the issues are and get better input to put together something that everyone supports.

Ashley Dennis

Hometown: Pilot Point

Education: bachelor's degree in marketing and speech communication from Texas A&M University, master's degree in business administration from University of Texas at Dallas

Work experience: director of sales and marketing for Samsung

Community service: serves as cheer commissioner and board member for Pilot Point Youth Sports Association, youth softball coach, volunteers at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church

Website: none

The board recently voted to start arming teachers next year. How should the board implement that plan going forward to ensure maximum safety for everyone?

I think it's important to keep children safe, so I agree with the board's decision. Obviously, the people who are selected to carry have to go through rigorous training. I think putting together a very detailed and stringent plan is necessary.

The district has done consistently well on STAAR tests and even won a few distinctions in recent years. What are your thoughts on the state standardized testing?

I think Pilot Point has amazing teachers. I think it's important to continue to attract good teachers. Post-secondary readiness is more important than STAAR grades. It shows our kids are ready for college. Our SAT scores are high and that shows we're on the right track for academics. We just need to continue to build on that success.

The district has had a string of failing bond packages. With that lack of community support in mind, how would you go about being a good steward of taxpayer dollars and wishes while still maintaining good infrastructure?

One of the reasons I decided to run is because I think I would be a good voice in the community. I have three kids in the district and they're involved in a lot of extracurricular activities. Not only would I be taking back the concerns of the community and what they think we need to do but also helping people understand our decision-making process and why certain decisions are made. I did serve on the bond committee as well. I think we can have more outreach and more town halls so we can understand what the community wants and come to a collective decision that everyone agrees on.

CAITLYN JONES can be reached at 940-566-6862 and via Twitter at @CjonesDRC.

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