George James is currently the Melissa Independent School district board of trustees president and has served on the board for 15 years. He was first elected to the board in 2002 and said he decided to run for a seat because he saw the district as being mediocre and in need of a change. His two children attended school in the district and have since graduated. He works as a real estate broker and graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in business.
Q: Why have you served on the board for 15 years?
A: I’ve got a great passion for kids, but this district has gone so far. I’m just incredibly committed to this district, it’s my baby. It does not mean I’m not replaceable. I don’t mean that at all. It also doesn’t mean that I did the heavy lifting. … The way that I look at things is that if I’ve got a really strong superintendent — and I’ve been able to hire two really strong superintendents — and I’ve got parents involved with their kids, if you’ve got a combination of those two things, you can make things happen that are really, really special.
Q: Is there any decision you made on the school board that you would change now?
A: I don’t know. I’m sure there are things. Anything haunting me? No, I would not say that.
Q: What would you say is the school district’s biggest challenge moving forward?
A: Last school year Harry McKillop ended up with 810 kids in that campus — 810. It wasn’t that many years ago that we as a district celebrated the fact that we had 1,000 kids in the entire district. But Walter Perez, a stud principal, can handle that and the challenges associated with that. And likewise all the other principals that we’ve got, and they do a phenomenal job of managing the overpopulation of kids until we can chase our tail a little bit and get enough rooftops and more facilities.
Q: What would you say to people who may think 15 years on the board is enough?
A: I guess I would say, while the school board in no way, shape or fashion should ever really enter the realm of politics, what I would tell you is that it’s not really about what I want. It’s what our voters want. When you run for office you can say anything. The real question to the voters, I would reframe that and say, you probably came here because our schools are great. Do you really want to change that? Everybody in life is replaceable, including me as much as I may love me. OK, but you change things when they’re broken. When things are going great I would hope they would want to keep them great, and have that approach. Because you can say anything, but the real proof in the pudding is, was the district successful in my last 15 years? Was there a very visible and marked improvement from where it was when I started to where we are today? And I would tell you the answer to that is absolutely.