In the race for Place 1 on the Calallen Independent School District Board of Trustees, incumbent Paul Peeler believes experience matters.
Peeler has served on the board for a combined total of 18 years, and is the only certified public accountant to serve on the board in the past 20 years.
Peeler is a 1973 graduate of King High School in Corpus Christi, and moved to Calallen to open an accounting office in 1982.
He and his wife, Bonnie, have three adult children who all graduated from Calallen High School. Bonnie works as a counselor at Wood River Elementary.
Peeler said he inherited a passion for education from his father, who overcame a poor upbringing to graduate from law school and open his own practice.
"He really pushed education, and I think I fell in those footsteps," Peeler said. "I'm really pro-academics."
Of his accomplishments as a trustee, Peeler said he is most proud of hiring Superintendent Arturo Almendarez, who was recently named Superintendent of the Year in the State of Texas, not once, but twice.
"I was instrumental both times in bringing him here," Peeler said. "He's great. There are 1,100 school districts in this state, and he's the number one superintendent? There's a reason for that. The other reason is that he's got a good board."
Peeler said he is also proud of the district's academic record.
"We have the highest rated district, academically, in our region," Peeler said. "That didn't just happen. That wasn't an accident; that's by design. Now, we're not where I would like to see us. I would like to see us be an overall exemplary district."
Peeler said one of the most difficult challenges facing the district is maintaining a budget that allows for the hiring and retention of good educators, while managing the steady stream of unfunded mandates handed down by Austin.
Peeler said he is also uniquely suited to represent the district's tax base.
"People have said, 'Why are you on the board if your kids aren't here?'" Peeler said. "I'm still a taxpayer. About 75 percent of the taxpayers in our district don't have children in the district anymore. But they're stakeholders in this district and they need to have a voice in this district."
Another pressing issue Peeler said the board is tasked with overcoming is the completion of a bond issue approved by the voters in 2007.
"We're about 75 percent complete with the $43 million bond package. We've got $10 or $11 million left that is unspent. We've got to finish that," Peeler said.
Peeler said the key difference between he and his opponent, Tammy McClendon, is experience.
"I've been a CPA for 30 years, I've been on the board for 18, I've got over 250 hours of continuing education in school accounting and finance," Peeler said. "I think experience counts. There's a huge learning curve in this job. You don't monkey with a $31 million budget if you don't know what you're doing. It's not a little project, it's a huge project."