PISD board candidate seeks answers on teacher retention


My name is David Murphree. I grew up here in Plainview. I have spent most of my life in the PISD system. Graduated in 1996 from PHS. I own several businesses here in the community and in Amarillo as well. I have a wife and three children – all my children are very involved in sports and in education itself – band, choir and many other extracurricular activities within the school. I participate in other activities at First Baptist Church in Plainview. I have worked with the city council on different issues, especially some of them that are now the responsibility of the city council. I worked with them.

Why did you choose to run for the school board?

We think there are some very good things happening in the district. New buildings – from an economic point of view and from a challenge point of view, having safe and beautiful schools on the outside for potential businesses coming in – we think (are) a very, very good thing. Many economic things that have happened are positive for our community. But the real reason we chose to run – or I chose to run – is that we see certain things that concern us. Our teachers and administrators – the number of them who have left and who may leave by the end of this year is of great concern to us. If they got all these raises in the last four years, why do we keep losing them?

What makes you fit to stand for school elections?

I bring experience, a lot from the business world. I own my own businesses. I own six different businesses right now. I understand financial forecasting, finances in general. Also, I understand the tax implications for the residents of a city, the community, the increased costs. Importantly, this comes from the experience of most of my background in construction. We own a plumbing, heating and air company. We built a housing company in Canyon. We built several houses there. I also own a janitorial company that has a contract with Wayland Baptist University, so I bring experience in housekeeping, grounds maintenance, and building maintenance.

And I understand the employee – how would I – the boss-employee relationship and there’s a delicate balance there.

What strengths and weaknesses do you see in the district?

At this time, we are financially strong thanks to the donation from COVID. We were given – the district received – a large sum of money which we were allowed to take out of the general budget and have some of our renovations done that would normally have been funded from our general budget. At some point, that money will disappear and we won’t be able to do it anymore. It’s happy times right now. Everything looks really good. But we put a lot of frosting on an ugly cake with that money. We have very, very good teachers here in our district and administrators. It has led our students in the right direction and our district in the right direction from an educational perspective. And we want to keep those people.

I guess one of the weaknesses I see is – and I don’t know if it’s a weakness – I’m concerned that our board votes 7-0 on every decision and they don’t there’s no one of your tone who disagrees with the things right in front of us.

I feel like one of the weaknesses is not giving some of our directors the power to make decisions for themselves. It seems that every decision should be made by the superintendent and not just allowed to do his job. And it seems that sometimes the chain of command does not exist.

What problem do you intend to solve if you are elected? How do you intend to approach it?

I want to give a voice back to teachers and administrators where they aren’t afraid to speak up when people – I know most people live on paycheck – speak up and result in losing their jobs. I want to be their voice and I want to address some of the relationship issues between high end and low end. Our teachers, all the help – it would be the helpers, the janitors, whatever.

How do you propose to support teachers?

First of all, I feel like the school board is there to support our teachers, not just financially. Finances are not everything in their life. If we don’t give them the tools and the support to achieve their dreams, when these teachers come in with a big dream and it’s crushed and it’s hit by reality, I want them to understand that the commission school is there to support them. They are not simply crushed. We take their ideas and help support them. And that we have the right administrative staff to support these teachers and their roles.

I know that some of our ETCs, especially in the welding program, could use more staff and more facilities to develop the program so as not to turn children away.

Anything we can do to support teachers, especially in areas where children are lacking. We should not refuse children who want to participate in a program.

What is your vision of the neighborhood?

I believe we have schools that – again, bring up the whole issue of supporting some of these CTE programs and helping kids with their credentials, not pulling kids away from the programs.

Helping or seeing the football team plan is not support and not half done but when you have a football field that has bleachers maybe you can have a few there -low.

What do you think is the job of a school board member?

The school board should really be the vision of the community – where we want our schools to go and help with decisions to support our community. I think we should work with the city council to make sure our community’s economic goals are supported with the schools.

To ensure that the financial security of our schools is not exploding right now. They are here for the long haul. That we’re not spending too much right now.

And to ensure that our teachers and children have a pleasant environment in which to work and go to school.

Nothing else?

I just want to make sure that the money we’re spending right now and the raises that have been given to teachers and administration are sustainable for 10 years when maintenance becomes an issue again in these new buildings that are being taken out currently.

To ensure that whatever we spend will not increase the tax burden beyond the obligation for us in the long term.

Nothing else?

We have it all covered. I’ve covered CTE programs and I would say I want to make sure our children are exposed to a full range of extracurricular activities – arts, sports, agriculture, etc. And that these programs are accessible to them and that we support them.

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