With two longtime school board members leaving their posts, four Argyle residents are hoping to take up seats on the district's seven-member board.

Board members Jeff Day and Keith White, the current board president, are stepping down from their seats in Places 4 and 5, respectively, at the end of their terms in May.

Ritchie Deffenbaugh, the owner of a vacation home rental company, will go against Brett Flaten, a construction project manager, for the Place 4 spot. In Place 5, retired principal Leona McDade will face off against former Bartonville police chief Dave Howell.

The winners of the May 5 election will become the decision-makers for a school district that's expected to nearly double in size in the next five years. The district passed a $166 million bond package in 2017 that will fund the construction of two new elementary schools, a 12-classroom addition to the district's existing high school, and an additional high school site in the Canyon Falls development.

Argyle also got a wave of media attention following the Stoneman Douglas school shooting in Florida. Several outlets reported on its four-year-old policy that allows teachers to volunteer to carry concealed weapons in school.

The Denton Record-Chronicle caught up with the candidates 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 4

Ritchie Deffenbaugh

Age: 49

Hometown: Moberly, Missouri

Education: bachelor's degree in business from the University of Tulsa

Work experience: worked as an executive at pharmaceutical companies for 23 years, currently owns and operates Deffenbaugh Properties

Community service: Bible study leader, youth basketball coach, currently serving on the Argyle Economic Development Corporation

Argyle is growing and the district is in the process of building new facilities to accommodate those extra students. How else do you think the district should manage that growth going forward?

Unfortunately, we have our hands tied a lot of the time. We don't have much control when new developments come into the district. The control we do have is to build more space and continue to build out one school at a time. I do think it is wise to keep the community feel with schools in subdivisions. Hopefully we can maintain our academic, fine arts and sports excellence.

Argyle is in the midst of a Google Chromebook rollout. What do you think about bringing in more technology to the classroom?

I love it. Our kids, since they started in Argyle, have had Chromebooks. It's training these kids to do their work from a technology perspective and it makes deadlines easier to meet. It's really teaching our kids how to succeed in this world and preparing them for the future.

The vast majority of your students go to college, but there's a small percentage that are looking for another path. How should the district go about improving career and technical education?

I think the district can help kids access their passions and what their careers might be. I think it is a responsibility of the district to identify where career paths are going in America. I like that we're able to use [Denton ISD's LaGrone] Advanced Technology Complex in Denton. We probably don't have enough people interested right now to build our own facility, but we can inform people that [the ATC] is there and make transportation easy. Even though we have Chromebooks, we need to improve in teaching computer science and identify opportunities to get kids more exposure to that.

Brett Flaten

Age: 44

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Education: bachelor's degree in architecture and construction management from Texas A&M University

Work experience: construction project manager for Healthcare Realty

Community service: involved with the Argyle High School band boosters

Argyle is growing and the district is in the process of building new facilities to accommodate those extra students. How else do you think the district should manage that growth going forward?

What's difficult is wherever you're growing, there are competing interests for limited resources. We need to make sure we balance the growth. I want to see that we've got all the right programs and resources for every kid in the district. We can't increase AP programs, but then not increase special education programs. We have to make it equitable.

Argyle is in the midst of a Google Chromebook rollout. What do you think about bringing in more technology to the classroom?

That's one thing you have to evaluate, how the technology is used. You need it in classrooms because kids need to be fluent in whatever technology is in the workforce. Technology is wonderful when it is a tool that enhances learning. As long as it's used to supplement and not replace teachers, then I support it.

The vast majority of your students go to college, but there's a small percentage that are looking for another path. How should the district go about improving career and technical education?

That's one of challenges of smaller districts. How do you grow to offer expanded programs? You need physical buildings that we don't currently have. We have to look at our available resources and how we can utilize those spaces. We need to ask, "What's the second life of a space?" We not only need to provide teachers and curriculum, but also give them space and the resources to succeed. The best thing to do is to do some research to understand the student needs and find out the cost. We also need to understand what the long term benefit could be for students.

Place 5

Leona McDade

Age: 65

Hometown: Malverne, New York

Education: bachelor's degree in history from the State University of New York at Albany, master's degree in elementary education and special education from Hofstra University, doctorate degree in education and education administration from Texas Woman's University

Work experience: retired as a principal at Keller ISD after 30 years in education, currently an adjunct professor at TWU

Community service: parent volunteer for the Argyle High School band, volunteered with the AARP Tax Aid program, currently serving on the Argyle Planning and Zoning Commission

Argyle is growing and the district is in the process of building new facilities to accommodate those extra students. How else do you think the district should manage that growth going forward?

Constructing buildings is one component, but we also need to maintain fiscal responsibility in managing the 2017 bond package. The district has a really good bond oversight committee to help the board with that. Another component of managing the growth is to continue to recruit and retain high-quality teachers. The district has been doing a great job. We just need to maintain those standards.

Argyle is in the midst of a Google Chromebook rollout. What do you think about bringing in more technology to the classroom?

I'm all for it. My child has had a Chromebook since middle school and I think it's been a great addition to his learning. It provides a pretty seamless learning connection between school and home. I support its continuation and bringing that down to lower grade levels. Being able to put Chromebook in each student's hands would be advantageous.

The vast majority of your students go to college, but there's a small percentage that are looking for another path. How should the district go about improving career and technical education?

I think for the size of our district, we're doing a very good job. We have IT specialists to help teachers integrate technology in the classroom. The high school has several career and technical programs and students have the opportunity to apply to the ATC in Denton. That option is perfect for a district our size and as our district grows, I think those opportunities will expand.

Dave Howell

Age: 59

Hometown: Dallas

Education: did not provide educational background

Work experience: retired as the Bartonville police chief after 30 years as a police officer, currently an investigator for the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles

Community service: served on Argyle Fire District Board of Directors, served on the Bartonville Town Council, Argyle Education Foundation grant review committee member, served on Bartonville Crime Control and Prevention District Board of Directors, Eagle Scout

Argyle is growing and the district is in the process of building new facilities to accommodate those extra students. How else do you think the district should manage that growth going forward?

The district has very high standards in all of the disciplines: academics, athletics and fine arts. Accommodating growth is much more than building new facilities. The high standards must be maintained in every program along with building new facilities. Continuing to attract and keep top-notch educators and staff is the key to providing the high standards we enjoy now and will provide in the future.

Argyle is in the midst of a Google Chromebook rollout. What do you think about bringing in more technology to the classroom?

I believe more technology in the classroom is a necessity. Our responsibility as a school district is to prepare our students for the world after high school. We should do everything possible to keep up with current technology for our students and, at the same time, take advantage of technology for our educators and staff to ease their work load. I'm also very interested in technology that will aid the AISD Police Department in their school security programs.

The vast majority of your students go to college, but there's a small percentage that are looking for another path. How should the district go about improving career and technical education?

Argyle currently has a relationship with Denton ISD at their Advanced Technology Complex. Our students have many options at LaGrone. We as a district should always be looking for areas to make improvements for the benefit of every student, which would include career and technical education programs.

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

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