2017 Italy ISD School Board Candidate Questionnaire: Larry Creighton

Image: Family Photo:
    Back row left to right: Sophia Creighton, Larry Creighton
    Front row left to right: Warren Creighton, Alex Creighton

Family Photo:
Back row left to right: Sophia Creighton, Larry Creighton
Front row left to right: Warren Creighton, Alex Creighton

1. Tell a little bit about yourself (current work, education, experience, background).

I am currently employed by the Town of Highland Park as a Public Safety Officer. This involves certification as a police officer, firefighter and paramedic. In addition I am a Major in the Texas Army National Guard and currently serve the 71st Theater Information Operations Group. My military history includes a deployment to Baghdad, Iraq, as a Platoon Leader.

I graduated from Red Oak High School in 1989 and then received a Bachelor of Business Administration from Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. In addition I have also earned a Master of Business Administration with a concentration in finance from the University of Texas at Arlington.

Prior work experience includes Murphy Oil Corporation and Acxiom Corporation, both of which are located in Arkansas.

2. What ties do you have to the Italy school district (i.e. children enrolled, family employed, former student)

My wife and I have two children. Warren Major is nine and Alex Grace is seven; both currently attend Stafford Elementary. We have three nephews who also attend school in Italy. My mother is a retired Italy teacher and my sister is currently employed as a teacher at Stafford.

3. Why are you seeking a seat on the school board?

While serving the past three years, the board has made significant strides to improve the educational environment of our students. I want to maintain that momentum and see the improvements through.

4. What qualifications or experience do you possess that voters should consider?

As a field grade officer in the Army I continue to train on deliberate decision making methodologies.

Three years ago I mentioned my ability to envision a desired future and lay out effective ways of bringing about that future. Since that statement the board has played a key role in our beautiful new campus facilities as well as new leadership for the district.

5. What do you consider your primary responsibility as a school board member?

The primary responsibility of a school board member is to empower and hold accountable an agile and adaptive administration in order to ensure students graduate with an education that is relevant.

6. What do you consider the most important issue facing our school district today?

Avoid the idea that meeting the minimum standard equals success. The district must continue to inspire and intrinsically motivate students to achieve his or her best.

7. What do you consider the most positive and negative aspect of being a member of the school board?

The most positive aspect of being part of the School Board is to see inspired students and to know that you played a role. The most negative aspect is the fact that at times the right decision for our students is the hard decision.

8. What do you think should be the top priorities of the school board after this election?

To ensure that the new stadium, vo-ag building, elementary renovations and cafetorium are completed under budget. We currently have a healthy financial profile and must keep it that way to ensure future viability.

9. Are there any policy changes you would seek to implement at the school district? If yes, which ones and why?

Students and teachers need a safe environment to learn and teach. I would like to partner with local law enforcement to improve physical security, improve the security of the campus and fully develop an active shooter response program.

10. What community services have you given the school district or community in the past?

My wife and I are active in youth sports. We have both coached girls tee-ball and basketball. We currently coach IYAA softball. I have also participated on the building committee and technology committee for Italy ISD.

11. Explain your position on hiring non-certified teachers.

Core teachers should be certified prior to being hired. However, in the event that a staffing crisis leads to a non-certified teacher being hired, he or she would need to be closely monitored and placed on a path to certification.

Italy ISD is also moving towards a “district of innovation” designation. This will give our schools the flexibility to bring on industry professionals to teach our children on a limited basis. This real world knowledge will take several of our programs to the next level.

12. How would you maintain a healthy balance between education and athletics?

Educational and athletic activities are both important in that they each provide spectacular opportunities for student growth. Students who participate in athletics should be encouraged to reach their full potential while being held to the same academic standards as those students not participating.

13. Title IX laws pertain to all state funded districts. How do you feel the Italy ISD performs in this area?

Italy appears to be following Title IX laws. In the event that the laws were not being followed I believe concerned parents would be making it known. Additionally, I am a parent of a first grade girl. As her father, I have a vested interest in ensuring that Title IX laws are followed by the district.

14. What ideas or changes would you like to see to continue to improve school discipline?

The classroom and athletic arena must be held to high standards of discipline. Students and teachers who choose to violate this goal must be removed. However at the same time the district is obligated to uncover the root of student behavior issues in order to get troubled kids back in the class and on the field. Giving up is not an option.

15. What ideas do you have to keep the budget trim?

It is important to evaluate existing systems and programs in use to ensure that potential is maximized. We on the board have been working with the superintendent to ensure that this is happening. He, along with his team have been conducting close examinations of new construction projects. The stadium scoreboard is a good example. It was determined that we could utilized the current board for the new stadium. Using our existing scoreboard allowed the district to save $23,000 and redirect those funds to other needed areas. To some this may not seem like a great deal of money. However, as you compound these savings we begin to see totals in excess of $100,000.

16. What positive changes within the infrastructure of our schools might be made to retain and/or attract quality teachers to educate our children?

Teachers need the district to design, fund, acquire and maintain an infrastructure equipped to deliver cutting-edge connectivity. Our students will graduate into a globally connected world. The foundation for that success must start as early as possible.

17. In what ways can the district’s school board be more open to listen to teachers and parents about their concerns?

Boards need to listen to teacher and parent concerns. With this said, it is important to not undermine the responsibility that administrators have when it comes to decision-making and problem solving. When teachers and parents develop and maintain direct lines of communications with board members it circumvents the relationship that administrators must have with teachers and parents.

18. What incentives, if any, do you think should be implemented to motivate students to improve their performance in the classroom?

Research shows that when incentives end, so too does motivation. The trophy mind set does little more than make a student feel good for the moment. This type of “extrinsic motivation” has little long term success. On the other hand, educators who embrace “intrinsic motivation” are more likely to have long lasting and self sustaining results. Students who are intrinsically motivated develop a fascination with subjects and link these subject to relevance in life. My daughter is an avid reader and very much enjoys the AR certificates and candy bars that she has earned for reading. However, it is imperative that her true motivation and drive to excel in reading is not a candy bar, but how it makes her feel, and the knowledge that literacy will open doors.