Name: Gary Renola
Occupation: Engineer (retired)
Campaign website or social media site: www.garyrenola.com
Elected offices held (with years of service):
City Council, City of Seabrook (2005 to 2008)
Mayor, City of Seabrook (2008 to 2011, term limited)
Q: Are you a legal resident of the district you are seeking to represent? Yes ___X__ No _____
ADDRESS: 4530 Tharp Drive, Seabrook, TX 77586
Q: Have you ever been charged or convicted of a felony crime? If you answer yes please explain.Yes _____ No ___X___EXPLAIN:Q: Have you ever sued a public entity or been sued by one? If you answer yes, please explain.Yes _____ No _X_____EXPLAIN:
Q: Do you have any other debts (including unpaid taxes) to a public entity? If yes please explain.Yes _____ No __X____ No_______
Q: Why should voters choose you?
I have the demonstrated leadership and the relevant experience to be a School Board Trustee. I have experience in children related non-profit organizations, including the Clear Creek Education Foundation and Big Brothers Big Sisters. I have leadership and budgeting experience in city government as Mayor of Seabrook and as Project Executive for a large petrochemical company. This experience will serve us well in these tight economic conditions. I have served as Chairman and other officers in many non-profit Boards of Directors in our community. My skill mix includes experience in organization effectiveness, strategic planning, and capital project management.
I have a desire to continue to serve the community and I have a passion working toward the benefit of children. My goal is to work with a great CCISD staff and Board of Trustees to continue to improve the District in all aspects.
Q: What are your specific qualifications for the position?
I am a proven, experienced leader with broad-based experience.
I have children related volunteer experience including mentoring 15 years with Big Brothers Big Sisters and as Program Chair for the non-profit Clear Creek Education Foundation that supports CCISD.
I have served in leadership capacities for a wide variety of Board of Directors and government related organizations. For the city of Seabrook, I served as Mayor, Mayor Pro tem on City Council, and President of the Seabrook Economic Development Corporation. I have served in leadership on many non-profit Boards of Directors including: West Chambers County Chamber of Commerce, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Bay Area Transportation Partnership, The Economic Alliance and Bay Area Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Professionally, I was a Project Executive responsible for multi-million dollar projects with a large petrochemical company. From my experience, particularly as Mayor, I learned to seek input from the community and staff when making decisions.
Q: What are the issues in this campaign?
There are three key challenges for the district:
1) Continue to stay cost effective with reduced state funding and uncertain method of state funding,
2) Maintain competitive wages and benefits for our teachers and,
3) Anticipate the future needs that come with our rapid growth and changing demographics.
If the bond election does not pass, it will place even more complexity on all three of these challenges for the district.
Q: What is your platform on those issues?
We must remain fiscally conservative in our budget. The State reduced the funding by $17.5 million over the last two years and there is no prospect it will be restored fully in the near future. We need the funding method for local districts solved at the state level. I support the recent votes by the Board to increase teacher pay and benefits so that we are competitive and retain a quality staff. For the future, we need to make sure our planning takes into account the expected growth and we have adequate and appropriately trained resources.Q: How many children do you have attending CCISD? How many have attended in the past? If your children do not attend CCISD are they home schooled or private school?
A: We have no children.Q: Do you favor the proposed bond referendum? Why or why not?
I favor the passage of the bond.
I have toured the facilities and the case is compelling. It is a large bond, but badly needed. The project list for the bond was done systematically and the justification was tested by a 30 person citizen committee prior to Board approval.
The bond addresses two main concerns for me: projects to make our facilities safer and replacing aging buildings in the district. We have facilities that are over 40 years old and many of them have structural problems that cannot be fixed. It is important to the long term future of the district that the bond passes. If it does not pass, it will have impact on our Maintenance and Operations budget and present overwhelming challenges to maintain teacher compensation and maintain our facilities.
Q: If you support the bond proposal, what assurances can you give that the money will be spent wisely? If you do not support the bond proposal, what alternative do you propose to meet the needs of the district?
The Board responsibility is to make sure the money is spent on the intended projects in cost effective, competitive fashion. The District and State have clear standards for fairness and transparency in expenditures of bonds. My City of Seabrook experience with bonds and city budgets will help ensure that the appropriate standards are met. My work experience with multi-million dollar projects will be valuable in ensuring that we have the right contracting and procurement strategies and help look for savings. It is critical the public have confidence in this process.
Q: How would you rate the leadership of the CCISD administration?
The leadership of CCISD Administration is excellent. This is validated by first-hand experience through my volunteer work with the non-profit Clear Creek Education Foundation. Also, Dr. Smith, our CCISD Superintendent, was selected as Superintendent of the Year for the State of Texas. This accolade is based on a long-term leadership on a number of fronts. In addition, the district is ranked very highly academically and fiscally, a result that comes from strong leadership and the quality of our teachers and staff. Another facet of the strong administration leadership is great working relationship with the Board of Trustees.
The district leadership has extended to the state legislature. CCISD administration has advocated on issues to decrease the amount of standardized testing, ensuring our graduation requirements are relevant, and that school evaluations are not based solely on standardized test results.