ROCKWALL, TX – April 16, 2021 — As the Rockwall County Uniform Election 2021 approaches, Blue Ribbon News invited all candidates running for Rockwall ISD Board of Trustees to participate in our Candidate Q&A Series. We provided a questionnaire for each candidate on the ballot to provide some insight on themselves and their platform. The Early Voting period for the Rockwall County Uniform Election 2021 is April 17-29th. Election Day is Saturday, May 1st.
Meet Amy Johannesen, who is running for Place 2 on the Rockwall ISD school board in the upcoming election. Read all about Johannesen in our questionnaire below.
First and Last Name: Amy Johannesen
City of Residence: Rockwall
Immediate Family Members: Trace (husband), children Kassidy, Joshua, Cash, Roman, and Caroline
Education: BA Psychology, UT Dallas
Occupation: Small Business Consultant
Political Experience: None – I am not a politician, I’m a mom of five and a business owner.
Current and Past Public Service, Activism, and Volunteerism:
- Served on the RISD Middle School Academic Enhancement committee in late 2019/early 2020
- Led on the executive board of RHS Jacket Choir booster club for 5 years and have held the offices of both President and Vice President
- Served on RHS Stingerettes Bootbackers booster club for 3 years
- Volunteered multiple years as room mom for my now high school senior and college sophomore
- Member of Hamm Elementary PTO and look forward to serving in the years ahead
- Outside of RISD, an active member of Rockwall Women’s League, Rockwall County Republican Women; Band of Brothers, Sisters, and Friends; and an affiliate of Terry Fisher American Legion Post 117
Why are you running?
I have 5 children: one has graduated, one will graduate this year, and then there are 3 more up and coming. My twins will be RHS class of 2037. We are invested in the long-term success of RISD. As a property owner, I recognize that a significant portion of my tax dollars is spent in Rockwall ISD. As a business owner, I understand the responsibility of properly allocating those tax dollars. As a mom and regular voter, I want transparency from the board in how those tax dollars are spent and the impact on my children. I believe all of these together make me the most qualified candidate for Place 2.
What are some specific goals you would like to accomplish if elected?
- Transparency – I grew a company from startup to 55 employees and $35M in top-line revenues over a 16-year period before selling. I want to foster transparency between the Board and the taxpayers, as well as the culture of accountability and metrics that helped turn around my business.
- Vocations – We need a more concerted effort made toward preparing students for vocational programs. The district receives incentive dollars for college, career, and military readiness, but we don’t often hear as much about the latter two. I want more emphasis made on preparing the student who will not pursue college after high school, particularly as that investment climbs and the associated return is plummeting.
- Military – I would love to bring a JROTC to Rockwall ISD. Rockwall currently has a higher concentration of veterans than average in Texas. We have a very active American Legion who is ready and willing to pour into this generation.
- Post-COVID Education Gap – I look forward to being a part of a team that will identify and implement a path for performance improvement at all levels. This should be a living, breathing plan with metrics and accountability, and we should be updating at every board meeting.
What is your stance on how the school board should handle the growth of the district and potential overcrowding of schools?
We absolutely have to plan for population growth in Rockwall, which means growth in our school district. The district is already adding a 16th elementary school this year and a fourth middle school as planned within the next couple of years. There is a bond election coming up in November that explores the option of adding a third high school, or potentially two freshman centers that would feed into our two existing high schools. We have learned from past experience that the freshman center route is not ideal, and I believe it is time to start planning for a third high school. Fortunately, with the increase in property values, I believe the district could stand to lower the effective tax rate and still have plenty of cash on hand for operating these future campuses.
How would you assess the district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic? What changes (if any) to the approach to the pandemic would you make?
RISD had to move quickly in truly unprecedented times. As we have learned more about the virus, it is clear that we must get back to normal as quickly as possible for the sake of our students’ learning and mental well-being. Furthermore, when we make decisions like this, there need to be very clear criteria established for both starting and stopping extreme measures.
In your opinion, what is the biggest issue facing our schools today? How would you help solve that issue if elected?
The biggest issue facing us today is going to be how we address the education gap created by the COVID response. Teachers had to do double duty, as did parents, all while trying to get kids at home to complete coursework in a new system for which there had been little training. It’s clear that 2020 while unprecedented, was a substandard year in terms of learning. I want to help formulate an actionable plan with clear metrics to improve and address this education gap, and I would like to see it published publicly and addressed monthly in our meetings.
What do you like to do for fun? Any hobbies?
Trace and I love live music and are big fans of Texas wine (yes, that is a thing!). Our son Roman’s middle name is Wade, like Wade Bowen, who will join us here in Rockwall for Founder’s Day.
What’s one thing others may be surprised to learn about you?
I am the oldest of six, but was an only child for 18 years! All my younger siblings grew up in Rockwall ISD with my children. It has been so much fun to get to share in their experiences and successes and watch them all grow up together.
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