Local Residents Run for DISD School Board

Local Residents Run for DISD School Board

by Steve Gamel

In an effort to add what they called a much-needed parent’s voice to the continuing conversation on safety in schools, two Lantana residents have thrown their names into the running
for the upcoming Denton ISD school board elections.

Jonathan Balmos and Barry Barnes, both of whom have children in the school district, officially filed for consideration before the election cutoff on February 16. Election Day is slated for May 5, and both men are eager to earn support from their fellow residents to take on a leadership role in the community they love.

If elected, Balmos and Barnes would be the first Lantana residents to serve on the DISD school board.

“A parent’s voice is important right now,” said Barnes, who added that no current school board official has a school-age child in the system. “There needs to be a link between the board and the parents. Right now, I think there’s a gap. Having a parent on the board helps ties things together better.”

Both men said they felt a calling to serve because of the increasing threat to school safety, especially after the tragic events at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On February 14, 19-year-old suspect Nikolas Cruz murdered 17 students and campus personnel while wounding 14 others. Per CNN, the mass shooting in Parkland is one of eight school shootings so far this year. The parameters CNN used included:

  • Shootings that involved at least one person being shot (not including the shooter)
  • A shooting that occurred on school grounds
  • A shooting that included grades K through college and university level
  • Gang violence, fights, and domestic violence
  • Accidental discharge of a firearm as long as the first two parameters were met

The conversation on gun violence and safety in schools hits close to home no matter where you live. Balmos and Barnes said they were approached by concerned parents and residents after a recent meeting, and that a grassroots effort to get them elected to the school board sprung from that.

“I was asked to fix this,” Balmos said. “We both have a vested interest in getting this fixed.”

Barnes, who is in the transportation and logistics industry, has been a Lantana resident for two years. He has one child at Guyer, another at Harpool, and a third at Blanton. Balmos is the president of JB Construction Services and has contracts with the federal government to do maintenance and security upgrades. He’s been working with the school district to upgrade school security for a year and a half and felt the next logical step was to step into a leadership role.

“We have around 28,000 students to protect,” said Balmos, who has a first-grader at Blanton. “Barry said it recently that he talks to his kids every day and knows what’s going on in the schools and what type of safety protocols are in place. You can’t get that sitting in a board room somewhere.”

Barnes said a significant piece included in the upcoming election is a $750 million bond initiative. He said having that type of money, if approved, means the school district could make a meaningful change in the way students and campuses in the DISD are protected moving forward.

“No Lantana resident has ever run for the school board,” Barnes said. “I can sit around and wait for the problem to go away, or I can throw my name into the ring. That was my motivation.”

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