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Early Voting Begins in Runoff Election For Seat On Midland ISD Board

The special runoff election for the District 5 seat with the Midland ISD Board of Trustees beging Monday, November 26. (Left: Heidi Kirk, Photo Courtesy of Kirk. Right: John Trischitti, Photo Courtesy of Trsichitti.)

Early voting begins Monday in the runoff election for a seat on the Midland Independent School District board of trustees. On Election Night -- nearly 3 weeks ago  -- it was still unclear who would be in the runoff. But as Marfa Public Radio’s Mitch Borden reports, it’s been determined that Heidi Kirk will face John Trischitti.

After all the ballots were counted, Heidi Kirk ended up with about 40 percent of the vote, which was  more than the 2 other candidates in the board of trustees race. In any other election, that would’ve won Kirk the seat, but in this case candidates needed to receive more than 50 percent of the vote.

That’s why a runoff between Kirk and her opponent John Trischitti has been scheduled.

Kirk, a former teacher at MISD, says she believes her teaching experience will help her shape policy for students and educators.

"One of the jobs of the school board is to help select the curriculum and create policies that affect what happens in the classroom," said Kirk. "And if you don’t have someone on the board who has that kind of experience and understanding of what the kid's needs are and how to meet those needs how are we really doing the best job we can to select those things correctly for the kids?"

Kirk is also interested in some of the alternative education models we’re starting to see in the Permian Basin, like online schooling and virtual academies. She says these types of models could be as at least one approach to MISD’s growth and infrastructure needs.

Kirk’s opponent, John Trischitti, is the current director of libraries for Midland County. If elected he says he wants to look at issues facing MISD from a bird’s eye view, and avoid micromanaging school staff.

"We hire them to do a job if it doesn’t get it done effectively then yes there needs to be some accountability, but as a school board member I don’t have any intention of getting in people’s business," said Trischitti. "I have job duties as a board member and if I’m doing those and the administrative staff is doing there’s and the principals are doing there's and the teachers are doing their’s then we’re probably going to be in pretty good shape."

When it comes to recruiting teachers, another issues facing Midland and other Permian Basin schools, Trischitti says the school district needs to find "creative solutions," like collaborating with other industries -- like the oil and gas sector -- that are facing recruitment shortages. Considering the district's growth and its aging facilities, Trischitti said a bond is probably going to be necessary in the near near future.
Early voting begins Monday, November 26 and continues until December 7. The runoff election will be December 11.

Carlos Morales is Marfa Public Radio's News Director.
Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.