Bullard ISD school board election to feature contested seat

Alexander and Johnson running unopposed

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The Bullard Independent School District Board of Trustees will have one contested seat in the upcoming May election, as the deadline to file for the three open seats has past.

Place 2 – Brandi Abercrombie vs. Brian Vestal

In the contested Place 2 race will be two Bullard community members known well throughout the district for their volunteer efforts for various city and school clubs and organizations, as Brandi Abercrombie and Brian Vestal are both seeking election to the seat currently occupied by Dr. Fred Zachary, a one term board member who chose not to seek reelection.

According to Abercrombie, she is running for the contested seat in an effort to give back to Bullard ISD, the school district that helped to raise her children.

“I’m very excited about running for the Bullard ISD school board,” said Abercrombie. “I feel that this is a great way for me to give back to the school district that has helped to raise my children and provide them a strong education. They’ve had different experiences in education because of their interests, but the education they’ve received has been a top-notch education. I want to be a part of leading this district and to give back for what it’s provided my family.”

Similarly, Vestal said his reason for running for the Bullard ISD Board of Trustees is to help the district continue to become a district that stands out in terms of quality education in East Texas.

“I am excited about running for the Bullard ISD school board,” said Vestal. “It’s all about the kids here at Bullard ISD, and I want to serve my community. The school board has done a lot to Bullard ISD a great innovative school district. I would like to be a part of what is going on and help the district reach its goals. We have a lot of growth happening in and around Bullard, and it’s really due to Bullard ISD. I want to help this district be the best district in East Texas.”

Vestal said his candidacy brings a view from outside of the district, as well as a parent’s point of view to the school board.

“Each of the current board members has their own area of expertise,” said Vestal. “I’m in the same category with Jason Campbell, who is the board’s vice president, in that I am a business owner here in Bullard. I believe I offer the school board an outsider’s view thanks to the areas that I’ve been involved in through volunteering. I also offer the view of a parent by having my oldest daughter in first grade and my youngest daughter who will start school at Bullard ISD in a few years.”

As a parent of two children that have attended Bullard ISD schools for years, Abercrombie said that the district has changed over the years, but the constant during the change has been the greatness of the Bullard community.

“Bullard is a fantastic community,” said Abercrombie. “It’s just far enough out of Tyler that you’re not in the traffic. Bullard is a community that is very welcoming that allows children and families to get involved in all aspects. The reputation of Bullard ISD has undoubtedly helped to bring growth to the city. With the growth of the district to now six campuses, we now have several new families coming to Bullard.”

Abercrombie, who served as the treasurer for the Citizen’s Committee that called for the district’s 2015 bond construction package, said the improvements to the district have helped to improve the district’s sterling reputation, in terms of the level of education provided, as well as safety for all Bullard ISD students.

“For me, the security of the campuses was the most important aspect of the bond package,” said Abercrombie, “especially because of what you see and read on the news, not that you ever expect something like that here in Bullard, but it happens in places you’d never imagine it happening. The security measures in place, including the enclosing of the intermediate school, really have been a great addition. When both of my daughters were at that school, I was always worried because there were a lot of access points. That was always a concern for me.”

Vestal said the new facilities and aspects afforded to the district through the Bullard ISD 2015 bond project are preparing the district for the incoming growth.

“The bond project was something that was definitely needed for the district,” said Vestal. “The growth is coming, and now we have the room to facilitate that growth. The bond also allowed us different features throughout the district, such as higher levels of security on all campuses and the innovative learning neighborhoods at the primary campus. It also allowed for the expansion for several Bullard ISD organizations like our agriculture department, which has a great following. The bond project really set us up for the next 10 years, but I believe that with the growth coming, it’ll be earlier than that.”

Vestal, owner of Dog Gone Cool Heating and Air Conditioning, is a Class of 1996 graduate of South Grand Prairie High School and also holds an Associate’s Degree in the HVAC industry. He and his wife, Dori, have been married for 17 years and have two children, Danica, 7; and Blaykley, 3.

Abercrombie, the Closing Manager for East Texas Title Company in Tyler, is a Class of 1991 graduate of West Rusk High School in New London. After high school, she attended Tarleton State University in Stephenville. She and her husband, Jay, have lived in Bullard since 2002, and have two daughters, Lexi, 20; and Livi, 17.

Place 1 – Tony Johnson (unopposed)

In the Place 1 election on the Bullard ISD Board of Trustees, Bullard High School alumnus Tony Johnson will be reelected to the board for the fifth consecutive term.

“I am extremely excited to have the opportunity,” said Johnson. “I considered maybe not running and stepping back, but I believe that when you look back over the growth and the things that are going on right now within Bullard ISD, it’s just great to have the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful district and what we’re doing to help the kids learn. I honestly felt compelled to run again for another term.”

Johnson said there have been several changes made around the district during his 12 year tenure as a Trustee, including the quality of education afforded Bullard ISD students and the district’s rapid growth.

“While it was good for its time, I believe the quality of education 12 years ago was not as innovative or helping to prepare our students for college as it should have been,” said Johnson. “I began to see the progress in the increase of the quality of education through serving on the board, as well as through the two bond projects I’ve been involved with. Now, we’ve now adopted a futuristic thinking to where we are reaching out and getting our students the opportunity to compete in an ever-changing world. Today, the way of learning is completely different, but we’re making attempts to continue to allow more innovative educational experiences to those coming into our district.”

Johnson spoke well about the 2015 Bullard ISD bond project, which totaled almost $41 million, saying his favorite project involved in the bond was the addition of the new Bullard Primary School campus.

“There was a great need for our district to add a new primary school campus,” said Johnson. “To me personally, the new campus was the most important part of the bond project because it allows us to start those students off on the right path with the most up-to-date facilities and technology. What I liked about this bond is that it touched every campus in some way. It’s rare to have some type of improvement at five different campuses at a school district while adding a completely new sixth campus. The bond project definitely helped to make this district more attractive than it already was to new students and parents moving in.”

During his tenure on the Bullard ISD Board of Trustees, Johnson has worked to lead the board proactively in terms of growth, serving previously as the board’s president and vice-president.

“We’ve been very blessed to have previously and currently a board that is always looking towards the future,” said Johnson. “We’ve been proactive in preparing for future growth, not just to get us by at the moment, but to lay the foundation for the future, including purchasing land for future schools keeping our students safe through several recently implemented security changes. There’s a baton that gets passed from member to member in planning for the future; if we’re only planning for right now, we’re already behind. We have to think towards the future, and I feel that the previous and current boards have done that exceedingly well.”

Johnson graduated from Bullard High School in 1979. After graduation, he attended Tyler Junior College Cum Laude in 1982. Johnson is retired from Brookshire’s Grocery Company after 37 years. He is married to his wife, Ester, for 32 years, and has two children, Ashley and Aaron, both graduates of Bullard ISD.

Place 3 – Dr. John Alexander

(unopposed)

In the election for Place 3 on the Bullard ISD Board of Trustee, Dr. John Alexander, owner of Our Family Vet and one of Bullard’s well-known business owners, will retain his seat, as he is running unopposed for his fourth term as a Trustee.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to serve as a school board again,” said Alexander. “I highly respect our positions on the Board of Trustees. To me, this is one of the most important positions politically at the grass roots level to where you can have a positive influence on a lot of families and the future of our state and nation. I’m very proud to serve on the board of trustees.”

According to Alexander, the district has changed, having grown out of a rural school district into a district with high levels of growth since his first term on the Bullard ISD Board of Trustees 12 years ago.

“It is a different district,” said Alexander. “I’ve had a son, as well as a daughter with special needs, go through the system at Bullard ISD. There’s no doubt we were a rural small town America school district back then. Now, the city of Bullard has grown by leaps and bounds and our enrollment numbers at Bullard ISD are up. The expectations of parents are very high, which is expected because of our district motto, Excellence Through Education. There’s always room for improvement, but I believe we are doing a good job across the board.”

When asked about how the Bullard ISD 2015 bond package has impacted the district, Alexander said the project brought about needed improvements to all campuses, especially in terms of growth.

“It brought needed improvements,” said Alexander. “The studies allowed us for approximately eight years to grow. Currently, we are in that first year, which is always the hardest because it’s the most emptiest in regards to seats in the new facilities. It won’t take long for those seats to begin filling up. When you have people moving into our district because of its reputation, it definitely makes us proud. We’re maxed out on our taxes, but that’s part of being a bedroom community; we don’t have the industry to support it. However, when a high tax school district continues to see growth live we’ve seen, that’s a heck of a reputation to have.”

Throughout his time as a Bullard ISD Board of Trustee, Alexander said he is proud of the board’s new district goals for the next year.

“This is the first time that the Bullard ISD Board of Trustees have diligently spent the time that’s required of us to actually lay out district goals for the next year,” said Alexander. “I’m very proud of my fellow board members for their willingness to map out the blueprint for our district currently and in the future. It’s taken a lot of work by the seven of us, but I believe the district’s future is bright and these goals are achievable for Bullard ISD. We are committed to make this district a lighthouse district in East Texas, which requires a strong foundation. With Mr. Schneider taking the goals and enacting the plan to achieve them, Bullard ISD has a bright future ahead of it.”

Alexander graduated from Carthage High School in 1986, then attended Palona Junior College before transferring to Texas A&M University, where he received a Bachelor degree in Animal Science 1990. He also received a Doctorate degree in Veterinary Medicine in 1997. He currently owns the Our Family Vet organization, which has veterinary medical centers in Bullard, Tyler, and Jacksonville. Alexander married to his wife, Misty, in 1993, and has two children: Miranda, and Jody.

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