Photo courtesy of Karen Clardy.

The RISD Board of Trustees election is on Nov. 5. Early voting begins Oct. 21.

District 5: Karen Clardy, Incumbent

Why have you decided to run for this position?

I believe that I can continue to make a difference as a trustee in RISD. I attribute this to my community connections I have made over the past 30 years in District 5 and my 25 years of experience at Lake Highlands High School. My extensive knowledge of the community makes me a highly effective advocate for District 5, and I look forward to the opportunity to focus on a community that I love and that I know very well.

What previous experience will help you with this position?

I bring a unique perspective of RISD that is a combination of experience as a parent, employee of RISD [Lake Highlands High School], a mentor for teachers and students and a community member. Application of these experiences over the last two years has helped to influence decisions that have impacted our curriculum and instruction, human resources and student performance. I believe that my experience in these areas will continue to positively impact RISD.

If elected, what policies will you advocate for?

Teachers are our most important resource for classroom instruction.  I will continue to advocate for additional salary compensation, curriculum, and professional development support and special education support for our classroom teachers. Additional teacher allocations may also be necessary to keep class sizes at a reasonable and teachable level.

What do you like about RISD?

RISD is a very unique school district. We have approximately 39,500 students that reside in three cities; Richardson, Dallas and Garland. I appreciate that our size and demographics do not interfere with the wonderful sense of community that we have in RISD. We are one of the very few districts in North Texas that have neighborhood schools. Because of our neighborhood school concept, we are experiencing a regeneration of RISD neighborhoods as new families are choosing RISD to educate their children. I am also pleased that we have been able to bring the community into the district planning process through our strategic planning teams. I believe this has helped to create an RISD community that is involved and informed.

What don’t you like about RISD?

I am very concerned that our economically disadvantaged students are struggling. We have seen improvements this year and I am hopeful that with our full day Pre-K, the ACE program and additional resources [teacher and specialists’ allocations] will help to provide our economically disadvantaged students the tools they need to succeed in the classroom.

What is your favorite part about the neighborhood – Lake Highlands?

Our community is a treasure trove of servant leaders who love Lake Highlands. I have witnessed over the years some very inspiring acts of kindness and goodwill. For example, the kindness of parents stepping up to parent children who do not have support at home, of anonymous donations for a student to be able to attend camp, the countless scholarships awarded to our students by our local clubs and organizations and of families coming together to support other families in a time of need. The LH Exchange Club, LH Women’s League and Junior Women’s league, 100 Women, Young Life, Pamper Lake Highlands, Feed the Children, Healing Hands and many more support groups make an enormous difference in the lives of our children. The dedication of this community to support our schools and each other is unique. We have something very special in Lake Highlands.

What changes are you hoping to make?

In addition to what I have mentioned previously, I also plan to be very intentional in providing information to the community concerning important initiatives that we are working on in the district. I will also be asking for feedback throughout the year from the District 5 community. I have been and will continue to be happy to sit down with parents and community members over coffee or lunch and listen to your concerns or suggestions.

What – in your opinion – is the culture of RISD?

In the last few years I believe RISD’s culture has changed dramatically. Our diversity and the economically disadvantaged population has made it necessary to take another look at how we are educating all students. I believe we are headed in the right direction and I am encouraged by the initiatives that we have put in place, but we still have work to do. Embracing our wonderfully diverse population and ensuring that all students have an opportunity to receive a great RISD education is now the culture of RISD.

What would you like constituents to know?

I was first elected to the Board in 2017, after retiring from RISD in June 2016 with 25 years of service as the executive assistant at Lake Highlands High School. While at Lake Highlands High School, I sponsored numerous groups including Student Council, the Girls Service League and Senior Class Sponsor. I have also served on numerous district committees and service boards during my career with RISD. My current civic involvement includes Leadership Richardson Class 35, City of Dallas District 10 Community Impact-Education Committee and a current RISD Trustee. I am honored to have received the PTA Life Membership and Extended Membership Awards, the PTA Wildcat Award, an inaugural RISD Excellence in Education Champion Award and two Lake Highlands Exchange Club Unsung Hero Awards. My husband and I are retired and have lived in the Dallas area for 30 years. We have two adult children who both graduated from Lake Highlands High School and three grandchildren. I am looking forward to serving as the new District 5 trustee. Thank you for the opportunity to serve this great school district.

This Q&A has been edited for clarity and brevity.