Election results: New trustee and RISD’s need to ‘mend fences’

Election results are in: Karen Clardy is RISD’s newest trustee

Dr. Kristin Kuhne was re-elected to the Richardson ISD school board Saturday, but the vote count indicates trustees have work to do in Lake Highlands mending fences. Though Lake Highlands challenger Lynn Davenport lost the election, she won every precinct in the LH feeder pattern save two – Hamilton Park and Moss Haven. Davenport’s change message earned votes throughout the district and kept the tally close. Kuhne collected 54% (6,100) of 11,209 votes cast.

At candidate forums and on social media, Davenport focused on teacher turnover rates, near 20% for the past 2 years, and the district’s academic performance. RISD’s ranking in 2016 dropped to 348th of 932 Texas school districts (down from 110th in 2009), and five RISD schools are on TEA’s current PEG (low-performing) list, most in LH.

Kuhne defended her first term on the board, touting gains during her 3-year tenure and noting that teacher retention is slowly improving. The district was recognized as a 2016 Honor Roll District based on academic achievement and reduction in performance gaps among ethnic minorities, and Kuhne backed RISD programs to help students graduate with college credit or professional certificates. Kuhne was supported by current and former trustees, who actively campaigned on her behalf.

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New to the board will be Karen Clardy – but she’s hardly new to RISD.

The retired LHHS executive assistant shocked many who playfully placed bets on which businessman she would face in certain runoff. Instead Clardy earned 55% on the first ballot – 5,748 of 10,460 total votes.

“I’ve seen programs come, and I’ve seen programs go,” Clardy said at one candidate forum. “I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t.” She’s the first trustee to shift from campus building to administration building, and she brings those connections, built from years of working with teachers, staff and administrators all over the district, with her.

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In RISD, every trustee represents every quadrant of the district. Three now live in LH – Clardy, Justin Bono and Jean Bono, three in Pearce – Kuhne, Caston and Patterson, and one in Berkner – Eron Linn.

Board members Clardy, Kuhne and Bono, unopposed in his race, will be sworn in at the school board work session Monday, May 15 at 6 p.m. in the RISD Administration Building auditorium, 400 S. Greenville Avenue. The public is invited.

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  • Kim Shanyang

    Hello. Was just reviewing this article. The school digger rankings you both refer to. It appears lake highlands high school is ranked as one of the worse 50 schools in the state of Texas by schooldigger.

    I have no idea why it’s so bad. It appears to be evenly split. In demographics.

  • bigdumbaggie

    I’m sorry to hear you feel that way. I graduated from rhs with my two brothers, my sisters from Lake highlands. My brother and I have had 6 kids weave through RISD and graduate from pearce. I’m glad to hear of your civic involvment. Coached kids in all four high schools. I’ve loved it. They gave me far more than I gave them.

    This is not a new transition. I’ve seen it a few times beginning with the disolvement of highland park, up through the turmoil of the 80s and 90s. If one lives long enough, one can see the only way to solve these problems is through a group effort. Lake Highlands will come out of this better and stronger than ever.

    To characterize why white Rock valley votes for one candidate and the rest of Lake highlands voted for the same candidate for the same reason might not be objective, but could be. Hard to say.

    Please don’t mischaracterize my statement. Both parties need to come together and work from both ends. I did not say or wanted to imply that white Rock valley had to do it all. At the last board meeting there was a gentlemen from your neighborhood, white Rock valley, that gave a great 3 minute talk. You can find it under the visitor’s video section. He nailed it. My hope for your neighborhood is he is representative of the majority and not a lone wolf.

    Again, thank you for your civic involvement and congratulations on your four graduates. That’s a lot of work.

  • Carol Toler

    I’m sorry, Big Dumb Aggie. I can’t let you completely mischaracterize my comment. I have not asked what RISD is going to do for “us.” But election analysis involves breaking things down, and, yes, analyzing how some groups voted. We can’t learn anything if we are afraid to look.
    RISD doesn’t need my advice. But I will give them some as the mother of 4 LHHS graduates and as a neighborhood volunteer who attends lots of RISD and community events: If you follow Big Dumb Aggie’s advice and WAIT for LH citizens to ask what they can do unilaterally to cure what ails RISD, LH school children will be the losers.

  • bigdumbaggie

    Hello again. I went back and re read mark Steger s article. Maybe it is a case of wanting to see what one wants, but I read that differently.

    It came across to me as a compliment. I read he was saying even though she is the most lake highlands candidate in recent memory, she was able to draw strong support from other areas. That’s impressive. No other candidate did that.

    I also went back and read one of his other articles. He endorsed Karen for the job, although that was after her first debate which is understandable. Karens big strengths are her depth and character. Hard to get that in a sound bite. Dr. Kuhne has similar strengths although the type of candidate she was up against did force her to be a little more direct than Karen had to be. I feel that was good for Dr. Kuhne as well as the community, to see her depth and character.

    I’m not oblivious to your underlying statement of “what is RISD going to do for us” . But that reminds of the great JFK. Maybe it’s time some folks quit asking what is the district going to do for me, but rather what can I do for the district.

    Just a thought. This election is over. Bridges get built much faster if you start at both ends. At least that’s how us aggie engineers do it.

  • bigdumbaggie

    Sounds like we agree on a lot of things. Maybe that is a start! Find common ground first.

  • Carol Toler

    Thank you for your comment, Big Dumb Aggie. I, too, have met Karen.
    My analysis of election results in LH was an attempt to help readers see how voters here may have had a different perspective than voters in the northern part of RISD. As I said in my piece, every trustee represents every quadrant of the district. I agree with you – Karen will do that well.
    My point is that RISD trustees might be wise to consider what LH constituents were saying when they voted for a change candidate in 20 of 22 precincts. Students stand to gain (or lose) from ‘mended fences.’
    I agree on another point: Dr. Kuhne is a woman of integrity, experience and education. And on another: That’s the way the system works.

  • bigdumbaggie

    Hello Carol. I for one have met Karen and consider her a wonderful opportunity for our district for all children, not just lake highlanders (disclaimer:proud graduate of Lake highlands elementary ). I really don’t think most voters had any question Karen would support all of our kids. Both her and her husband have a track record of honesty, integrity, and civil rights.

    I find it less than helpful to speak of “LHers” as people vs. RISD which comes across as a faceless institution. RISD is made up of all of us who are active and involved for the betterment of kids. . . And all are welcome to join in that endeavor.

    Dr. Kuhne is no different. A woman of integrity, experience, and education. Whether you choose to ignore the fact or not is immaterial. The district (including Lake highlands) has made great positive strides over the last three years. All statistics show it (including school digger) , well maybe not football. Been a tough three years there. Lol

    Lake Highlands is going to do great. There are a lot of us working hard, some high profile others not. It takes time. Jeannie is the right superintendent and she has put together a great staff.

    The fact is for an election we could not be more pleased than to have the two most highly qualified candidates rise to the top and win. That’s the way the system works.

  • Admonkey

    You’ll have to take his categorization of Clardy’s deep-rooted and long-lived ties to Lake Highlands up with him. I certainly didn’t see it as an attack; probably most won’t, either.

    He raises an interesting point, though, that numerous solutions have been offered to Lake Highlands— redrawing boundaries, adding on to campuses, building new schools, etc., etc., etc.— each of which was rejected by one Lake Highlands faction or another.

    It seems no small degree of Lake Highlands’ turmoil is internal and I’m certain RISD won’t be able to please 100% of the feeder with ANY path it takes forward; the result will merely be more internally-brewed anger that’s outwardly-spilled on the District.

    Perhaps Lake Highlands has its own “togetherness” issues. Maybe build some internal bridges.

    But as Steger writes, just how many bridges does Lake Highlands feel entitled to?

  • Carol Toler

    Steger’s attack on Karen Clardy could not be more wrong. Calling her the most “Lake Highlands candidate as any in memory” minimizes her win and her reason for winning. At the risk of repeating myself, Karen won because of the ties she built over 25 years with administrators, teachers, parents and students – many of whom are now old enough to have homes and families in the district and were able to cast a vote for her. Karen worked hard for her win, and Steger should be ashamed for diminishing her work and the votes cast for her.
    Steger and I agree on this: It is time for the district to come together. Here is where we differ: He says the onus is on the citizens of Lake Highlands. I say the ball is in the court of RISD. The winners (or losers) will be the students in Lake Highlands schools.

  • Admonkey

    Mark Steger has an interesting take, and mentions you.


  • Carol Toler

    Question, statement…the point is not what I say or what you say on the Monday morning after an election such as this. My point is that LHers are wondering what RISD will say. (And I don’t think they will use the School Digger ranking of 348th on any billboards, even if it did come up from 413.)

  • Admonkey

    I don’t see a question from you in the headline, I see a statement.

  • Carol Toler

    Karen Clardy won 65 of 76 precincts in RISD, all across the district. Eric Eager won 11.
    Your focus is quality of candidate, Admonkey. Mine is with voters. LH voters chose a candidate with a ‘change’ message. I’m asking what voters had in mind when they checked that box. And I’m asking how RISD will respond.

  • Admonkey

    How many precincts inside Richardson did Clardy win? In comparing the two races, I think it’s worth noting the differing results seem to have less to do with “broken fences” between RISD and Lake Highlands and more to do with the quality of the candidate. As you say, in RISD, every trustee represents every quadrant of the district and LH now has three residents on the Board. RISD doesn’t seem to have a problem with Lake Highlands; RISD seems to have a problem with narrow-focus candidates.