AISD candidate Aileen Bunting shares plans for district improvement

AISD candidate Aileen Bunting shares plans for district improvement

ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — In this week’s Big Country Politics, Aileen Bunting, a candidate for Place 1 on the Abilene Independent School District’s school board, discusses her experience in the district and shares her plans if elected.

Bunting was born and raised in Abilene. She attended AISD and has been working in the mortgage industry for the past 12 years, currently working as a mortgage lender at Prime Lending. She is married to a teacher at Premier High School and is the mother of two middle school-aged children and a 3-year-old.

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For her, serving on the school board is a way to continue her journey in helping others.

“Everyday goal is what can I do to help others. That’s just how I’ve always been raised to help somebody else. For me, the biggest calling I’ve had is to try to be on the board; I feel that we have a lot of issues at hand, and I think, for myself, that it’s important to know that I’m able to bring to action things that we need to do to help us succeed within the district. I feel that not everybody sees the district in the light that I see it,” Bunting shared. “One of the biggest reasons is not just to help my kids, but all of the other classmates that are within the district.”

This is the first time Bunting is running for a local office position, although she is currently serving on the Clack Middle School PTO board and the Professional Women in Building board. Bunting has stated that she thinks the district needs improvement.

“A lot of things do concern me within the district. I feel that currently, we have a great group of leaders. But I do think that there are things that we can do to help our students, teachers, administrators, and staff be everything that they can be and achieve everything that they need to achieve,” Bunting said. “My latest concern, though, is what we just saw on the news regarding a local bus stop. I know that can get a little touchy, but I feel like it’s important that we don’t let things like that slip by. So one of my questions is, what can we do to prevent something like this from happening? How periodically are we checking into our current bus stops and making sure that our children are safe and that we put our kids first and their safety first and foremost?”

Bunting shared on her Facebook page five things she would like to implement, including bridging the communication gap between parents/guardians in the district.

“I recently saw a new posting on social media with the board meeting about how they actually announced on the school page that it’s open to the public and everybody can come, including the date and time. But before that, I hadn’t seen much of that type of announcement,” Bunting said. “For me, bridging that communication gap, since I am a parent of curring AISD students, would be more informational materials, more handouts, more fliers, utilizing the remind messaging app that we already use. But yes, using social media as a platform to have our announcements and more day-to-day activities of what’s going on within our district.”

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Diversifying the current school board and teacher workforce is among the top five priorities on her page. Bunting explained that one of the largest topics of discussion at board meetings has been the teacher-to-student ratio for minority students.

“So one of the things that they’ve mentioned is how we know that that’s an issue, and we have extra stipends for trying to get more teachers, trying to get everybody to come to apply for our district and work for our district that is minorities. But for me, since I like asking those questions, I want to know what exactly else we are doing to try to further our minorities. Are we going back through applications that were submitted for qualified teachers? Are we going through more interview processes? These are a lot of questions that I’m sure are already being discussed, but I just want to know more,” Bunting shared.

She added that she is very concerned about the C rating the district received.

“This started declining after the pandemic, like a lot of things. But I feel like we’re now taking those appropriate steps to get back to an A rating. One of the goals that the board just approved was the North Star Goal, which is saying 85% of the students will have an A or B rating. For me, it’s like, what do they need? What do our administrators need from the board to get it to achieve this goal? Whether it’s tools, extra material, what they need to get there, and making sure that they know that they have the full support is very important to me,” Bunting said.

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Bunting is running against incumbent Derek Hood and candidate Dr. Taylor Tidmore. She stated that her desire to serve the public is what sets her apart from her competitors.

“What’s going to differentiate me from them is that I feel that I have that heart and that need for public service,” Bunting shared. “The worst thing you can do is not try, and for me, it’s a little more personal. I say this for myself; for example, when I go to my kids’ middle school campuses, I’m greeted by Mama Bunting and Auntie Aileen with hugs. I’m asking how their day is going. I’ll walk through the hallways, and I’ll say hi to the kids. It’s not just my kids; my kids are not the main reason for this. I consider all the student body, all of the kids, as one. I feel that we need to see that authenticity, that genuine connection with the kids, and make them feel that they are heard, they are seen, and just being that positive role model for them. As I sit here, I just can’t help but wonder what kids are looking up and saying, like she is really going for it. That is awesome. That, to me, is inspirational. And that does volumes.”

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This is Bunting’s message to the Abilene community:

“This is my home; I was born and raised here… I actually started off in the early childhood educational field with my initial college courses, and so that’s always been something that has led me to be involved with the kids, being involved with our community, and giving back to our community… I think that at the end of the day, giving back to our communities is the most important and keeping our kids front of the line. And, of course, our teachers, our staff, our administrators, just making sure that they know that they’re the reason why we’re here. That is always going to be the board’s mission statement: helping the student body help the district achieve everything it can. I feel that it’s important to have a chance on me and actually get to know me. As always, if anybody ever has any questions, they want to get to know me, they want to meet with me; my lines are always open. I have that open communication, and I’m never going to just stand somebody up like that’s not something that I agree with you about.”

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