CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said Larissa Thornburg was the treasurer for the Anna school board. She is the treasurer for the Anna band booster club.

On April 19 the candidates for the Anna Independent School District board of trustees participated in an open forum to give residents the opportunity to ask them questions. The Greater Anna Chamber of Commerce put the event together and the First Christian Church graciously allowed GACC to host it in their building.

One of the questions was, “What are your qualifications?” Clark Miller, commercial construction manager and owner of Next Generation Mixed Martial Arts in Anna, is running for Place 5. Miller has multiple years of experience in programming school district bond packages, managing and building K-12 schools. He has also served on multiple school district planning and construction committees to facilitate the kind of growth that Anna is experiencing and about to experience.

Carrie Butler, also running for Place 5, is a stay-at-home mother and a substitute teacher. Butler is the president of the Rattan Elementary Parent Teacher Association and helped start the Anna Kids Lunch Program. She said she would be a good board member because she pays attention and always asks questions.

Larissa Thornburg, the current treasurer for Anna band booster club, is running for Place 7. She said her experience and background is one of the reasons she is running. Thornburg said she has 30 years of experience in finance, understands budgeting and doesn't mind asking questions.

Susan Hayes is also running for Seat 7. She has been in the corporate world for more than 20 years. Even though she's never served on a school board, she feels her experience lends her an advantage of understanding how boards operate.

When asked what direction they see Anna heading over the next 10 years, each candidate agreed that they see growth and advancement.

“Anna is about experience some amazing growth,” Miller said. “I have a real good idea because I've seen it and built it all before in districts just like Anna, including my own home town of Rockwall. I see Anna being a leader for surrounding communities to model after. I see new and innovative programs to enhance the education and life experiences and training of our youth. I see AISD becoming a 'destination' district.”

Butler said she wants to see more in the Fine Arts Department.

“I would love to see an orchestra program started here,” Butler said. “I also see a growth of vocational courses that hone in on technical skills. Home economics should make a comeback.”

Thornburg said she is excited about the future of the Anna ISD.

“We have set the ground work for the students with education, vocation and workforce skills to be successful,” Thornburg said. “We are building beautiful facilities that families want to send their kids to. With growth comes opportunities. I see Anna ISD as a desired district.”

Hayes said planning early will help with the growth pains usually felt by cities.

“In 10 years I see Anna ISD still struggling with the growth like every large school district,” Hayes said. “But the main goal is to stay ahead of that growth and look for new and innovative ways to provide a quality education to our students. … Now, and even beyond 10 years, we will still be studying how to support the growth through building programs, bond elections and affordable property procurement and this will be a burden on the district. However, it will take strong leadership to set up the district for long-term success and I know I can help with that success.”