2017-04-21 / News

Two run in Lometa ISD special election


Lowell Ivey Lowell Ivey EDITOR’S NOTE: Lowell Ivey and Megan Lusty are running in a special election to fill a vacancy created by the resignation of school board member Ben Leggett.

Recently retired after 12 years as a county commissioner, Lowell Ivey is pursuing a longtime interest in the education system as he seeks to fill an unexpired term on the Lometa school board.

After a career with El Paso Natural Gas Co., Ivey moved in 1997 to Lometa, where his parents lived and where his great-great-grandparents had been homesteaders in the 19th century. He took office as a county commissioner in 2005 and served until Dec. 31, 2016.

Ivey’s two grandchildren are Lometa Independent School District graduates, and his daughter-in-law, Monica Ivey, works for Lometa ISD as school nurse and secretary to the superintendent.

His father served as school superintendent in Kempner in 1941 and was on the school board in Jal, New Mexico for 12 years.

Megan Lusty Megan Lusty Ivey said although he never worked as a teacher, he always has been interested in the educational system.

“Never had the opportunity or the time to devote to something [like the school board], but now that I’m retired I think I can bring some good things to the table,” he said.

The candidate said he has significant budgeting experience from his time working for El Paso Natural Gas and serving as a county commissioner.

Ivey said because school funding is tied to enrollment, a priority of his is to ensure Lometa ISD makes the best use of limited funds.

“You know, when you start losing money due to less enrollment, then you’ve got to be able to pick and choose as to where you want that money to go for the best interests of the children,” he said. “That’s basically why I want to run.

“And I know that the school has problems just like we did in the county government, you know, with unfunded mandates and things that are put upon them that they have to do without getting the revenues to do it,” he added.

Ivey said because he does not have a professional background in education, he will need to hear from current school board members and administrators to familiarize himself with specific issues and challenges Lometa ISD faces. He said he looks forward to that learning process.

“You know, it’s a little bit hard for me, because I’m not directly involved in the schools, so therefore I don’t know their problems -- but I want to learn,” he said.

Ivey said the Lometa school has some of the finest educators there are.

“The teachers, the administrative staff, the superintendent, all the way down, I think they do the best job that they can do with the money that they have to deal with ...,” he said.

Ivey said children are the future, and he wants to support those who will be leaders some day.

“I would like to give them every opportunity and every tool we can to further their education,” he said.

Ivey also said he appreciates Lometa ISD’s stability and wants to keep the district strong.

“My dad went to school in Lometa, graduated at Lometa, and that school has been in operation all these years,” he said. “And I want to make sure that it’s stable and can continue for a long time in the future.”

Megan Lusty’s involvement as a parent of Lometa students has led her to seek election to the school district’s Board of Trustees.

Mrs. Lusty grew up in Jacksboro, and she and her husband, Heath, moved to this area in 2011. Two of their children -- a daughter in third grade and a daughter in sixth grade -- are enrolled in the Lometa Independent School District.

Mrs. Lusty worked as a teacher’s aide in Lometa for a couple of years, and she also has volunteered on school committees.

Last year, she served on the district’s Site- Based Decision Making Committee, which issues recommendations about school improvements. Mrs. Lusty said as a member of the committee, she suggested the Gifted and Talented program meet during elementary students’ enrichment time in order to get more students involved.

The candidate also has served for two years on the Student Health Advisory Council. She said the council discusses issues related to student health -- such as dietary needs, immunizations, poison control and sanitation -- and offers advice about proposed health-related policies.

Mrs. Lusty added that her family recently learned her third-grade daughter has dyslexia. As a result, she said one of her priorities is expanding on Lometa ISD’s Content Mastery, special needs and Section 504 programs in order to work more successfully with students who have dyslexia.

“We’ve got a great program in place, but I want to add to it,” she said.

Multiple families in the district would benefit from an expanded dyslexia program, Mrs. Lusty said.

Another priority, she said, is promoting more vocational education programs to help students “be prepared to go into society.” She said students could benefit from programs such as mechanical training and a certified nurse’s aide course.

“That’s one that has been successful I know for Lampasas -- and I believe would be successful for Lometa,” she said of the CNA program.

Mrs. Lusty also said it would be good to teach skills for everyday living, such as how to balance a checkbook, manage a budget or change a tire.

“I kind of feel like they need to know that before they graduate,” the candidate said.

Mrs. Lusty said Lometa ISD is facing challenges in attendance, which affects the district’s revenue. She said it has been difficult to see programs cut because of budgetary pressure, and she said she would like to keep alive the music program that is set to be dropped in the upcoming school year.

Mrs. Lusty said her family loves Lometa, and she said the school district’s personal approach is its strongest asset.

“I like the smaller atmosphere,” she said. “They get more one-on-one [attention] at a smaller school. Ever since we’ve moved there, it’s been very close-knit community and very close-knit friends for the girls. They’ve had the same friends for all of their school life.”

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