In January, Dr. Kathleen Pittman decided she would embark on her run for public office to maintain her District 2 seat on the Roswell Independent School District’s board of education.
Though Pittman has served two years on the RISD board, she was appointed, not elected, to fill Nicole Austin’s seat in 2017. In 2018, she was elected by RISD board members to be the secretary and currently serves on the policy committee.
District 2 is in northwest Roswell, between Berrendo Road and West Second Street, primarily west of Main Street.
Pittman, 73, is a retired professor for Eastern New Mexico University and has no family members employed by or connected to RISD. She graduated from Roswell High School, class of 1963, and earned her doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Alabama.
She believes her “wide experience” with education and “passion” for the students and the community are her greatest strengths. Last year, Pittman was recognized as an “exemplary” board member because of the number of trainings she did, and she plans to continue to learn how to be an effective board member.
“I’m passionate about kids,” Pittman said. “I care about your kids. I care about the schools and this community. I want to stay on the board because I want to continue the work that has been started.”
If re-elected, her priorities are to continue to ensure security and safety, for the district to be fiscally conservative by not hiring more administrators, for the board to have communication and transparency within the district and the public, and for equity for all RISD students. She has signs up throughout town and her campaign manager is Barry Foster.
“My dream for our district is that when students graduate they have a dream and that RISD can help them build that dream and give them the tools and the pathway for making those dreams come to reality,” Pittman said, adding that expectations need to be raised for RISD students whether they choose a career or higher education path.
“The other thing I would like to say is I want transparency in school governance,” Pittman said. “I do not want surprises and I do not want our community to be surprised by what the school district does. It’s been a rocky summer in the schools and on the board. It really has. I don’t want to make past judgments. I’m a board member. We speak as a team, not as individuals.
“But I do think that we better — the district can better communicate with both the board and the public about what is planned and what is going on.”
As a self-professed “people person,” Pittman is involved in her church, St. Andrews,, through a committee and also teaches a four-year seminary course. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, has served on the Roswell Jazz Festival board and attends school events, from plays to football games.
“I want voters to know that I’m available,” Pittman said. “I’m a good listener and I do check on stuff when people report stuff … bottom line is, are the kids learning? Are we preparing them for the future? They’re that major asset to our community, and I know oil and gas are important — but our young people are our biggest asset — and we must prepare them for the future because they need to be able to compete.
“When we do this, the community must support that, so that they (the students) won’t just leave Roswell, go off to college and never return — but there will be something pulling them back. And I truly believe our schools can accomplish that through tight relationships and we’re getting there. We’re getting there faster than I thought was possible …”
Pittman’s challenger is newcomer Hope Morales, Teach Plus state director, who was also one of Pittman’s former students. Pittman and Morales declared their candidacy for District 2 at a Chaves County Federated Republican Women meeting this summer and filed formally on Aug. 26.
School board elections are nonpartisan. Pittman confirmed her affiliation with the Republican Party, but emphasized the nonpartisan nature of the school board election.
Election Day for school board and other races will be Nov. 5 and this is the first year that school boards must align with the Local Election Act. District 4 Incumbent Ruben Sanchez filed for his current seat with Sergio Gonzalez and Hilda Sanchez challenging him.
The terms for the remaining board members — serving Districts 1, 3 and 5 — will expire in 2021, for Mona Kirk, Alan Gedde and James Edwards. All five districts can be viewed online at risd.k12.nm.us/schoolboard/Roswell_Schools_Board_Districts_2012_Map_letter.pdf.
Special projects reporter Alison Penn can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at email@example.com.