As the March 13 filing deadline passed, the race for Place 3 on the Cleburne ISD school board became more heated. Three candidates — Jennifer Dugger, Brad Parsons and Trey Kirkpatrick — filed their candidacies that day, joining challengers Kenny Haferkamp and Woody Mathews.

With five people seeking the position, the race is the largest of the three contests for CISD school board seats.

The group is vying for Milton Walker’s seat after he announced he would not seek re-election in the upcoming May 13 vote. Candidates are elected at-large by place.

Dugger, a math teacher at Cleburne High School, said she wants to join the school board because she is taking some time off to spend with her son, but would still like to continue her involvement with educational affairs.

“I just thought it was a great chance,” she said. “I’ve always loved education. It’s been a dream of mine since I was a small child.”

Dugger has lived in Cleburne for four years. She said she filed in Place 3 because she knows other candidates in Places 4 and 5 whom she believes would make good additions to the board.

Dugger said her main goal is to use her teaching background and knowledge for the benefit of the district. She said her experience as an educator can add a different perspective to the school board.

“I would maybe like to see more staff development opportunities more specifically geared toward teachers’ needs and desires,” she said. “Right now there is concern over money and resources. I think we should look at how money is spent so we can provide better resources for teachers and students.”

Dugger, 29, is working on completing a master’s degree, and though she plans on returning to the educational workforce, she said if elected, she will be a hard worker and available for communication and involvement with the public.

“I feel it is important to be accessible,” she said.

Parsons said his main motivation for running is past school board decisions concerning what he called unlawful expenditures and disregard for the wishes of the people. He said he didn’t have a reason for filing in Place 5.

Parsons, 63, a paralegal, has lived in Cleburne since 1997.

He said he would like to focus on finances for the future of the school board.

“I’d like to decrease the amount of money spent on buildings and increase money spent on teachers, books and those sorts of things,” he said.

He said one of his wishes is to improve education so graduating high school students are better able to pursue their desires in the real world, whether it means attending college or secondary school, or joining the workforce.

“A lot of high school kids don’t have the basic math and reading skills to function in the society we live in,” Parsons said, “and I think that’s just inexcusable.”

He said the district needs to have the willingness to try innovative methods of teaching.

“If cartoons can hold the attention of children for half an hour or an hour, why can’t we do it with subjects like math or history?” Parsons said. “We need to focus on accountability and responsibility.”

Kirkpatrick said he did not really have a reason for filing, other than it seemed like a good thing to do.

“I don’t have an agenda or anything like that,” he said. “I’ve got four kids in the school system and just want to be active in the community. It excites me to think about the future of the kids and where they are headed.

Kirkpatrick, 34, has lived in Cleburne for more than 10 years.

He said his 10-year experience as a construction manager gives him an inside knowledge of different managerial, accounting and construction processes that could be helpful to the district, especially with the three new schools to come in the future.

Kirkpatrick said he didn’t file in Place 3 for any particular reason, but he was surprised by how many filed.

“When I decided to run for place 3, there was only two filings at the time,” he said. “ Now there’s five.”

Kirkpatrick said he wants to make the district the best in Johnson County.

“People should want to come to Cleburne,” he said. “We should have great teachers, a great band, great sporting facilities and academics. When a family gets relocated to Johnson County, they’ll look at Burleson, Joshua and Godley. As a parent, those are your concerns.

“People need to take a long, hard look at Cleburne,” he said. “We’re on the rise, good things are happening and will continue to happen, and I’d like to be a part of it.”

Mathews said he was pleased as both a parent and citizen so many people are showing an interest in running for the school board.

Haferkamp, 30, said he welcomes the competition, saying the more people who run for school board the better.

“It’s excellent,” he said.

The last day to register to vote is April 13. The registrar’s office is located at 121 W. Chambers. Early voting runs from May 1-9 at the CISD administration building, 505 N. Ridgeway. For information, call 817-202-1100.

Philip Naverrette can be reached at 817-645-2441,

ext. 2337, or

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