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Do you have kids in PISD schools? Read our guide to your PISD board candidates!

Do you know much about the PISD Board?

This coming May 1st is also the Election Day for our PISD (Plano Independent School District) Board of Trustees (for open seats in Places 1,2,3 and 6).

The Board has the power to vote over many key decisions – they elect the Board President and on many decisions that affect all of our Students and Staff across PISD.

Plano Independent School District serves the residents of approximately 100 square miles in southwest Collin County. This area includes 66 square miles in the City of Plano and parts of the following cities: Plano, Richardson, Dallas, Allen, Carrollton, Garland, Lucas, Murphy, Parker and Wylie.

It includes 51,000 students, 4,000 teachers and 72 campuses.

Their ongoing District goals are:

(1) Ensure continued improvement in student learning

(2) Ensure efficient use of financial resources/budgeting.

Plano ISD School Board

As so many of us are parents of current PISD and future students, we must keep ourselves informed on our candidates and the issues that they are campaigning on:

For this Election Cycle, the hot topics that are being discussed among Parents and PISD and their Board of Trustees are:

(this input came from current Board Trustees Jeri Chambers and Nancy Humphrey)

  • Virtual learning and life during and after COVID
  • Social and Emotional Learning
  • Career and Technical education as a subset of College, Career, Military Readiness
  • High Stakes Testing: this is still a hot topic.  Evidence shows the readability of the STAAR test is less than desired.  It doesn’t measure academic growth. In Plano ISD, students are tested with MAP (Measures of Academic Progress).  This is a growth based assessment, as it is administered multiple times in a school year to asses growth in knowledge acquisition.  
  • Covid-19 Related Costs: There are several issues to contend with:
    • How do we cover the costs incurred during the pandemic?  Plano ISD has incurred around $4 million that has not been covered in relief, and continues to incur costs associated with PPE, plexiglass dividers, and premium pay during closure to deliver meals.
    • What costs will be incurred to help bring students back up to grade level for any learning loss due to remote instruction?  
  • Hold harmless: This is a huge issue right now.  School districts hire staff and create a budget based on the expected enrollment for the school year.  When Covid hit, districts saw many students  who didn’t return to the classroom. (PISD had about students 2,200 who didn’t return, and most were at the lower grades, preK, K, and 1st). 

The District has made extreme efforts to find those students and get them back to the classroom. Funding is based on attendance. Notwithstanding students not enrolling, we have teachers on contract and must continue to pay them.  

We also have teachers who have had to quarantine, and we’ve utilized all staff during this pandemic.  It’s not simple to change expenses like a light switch in a large, “people” organization. 

The Commissioner granted all districts in Texas to be held harmless from funding shortfalls that would result from the lower attendance.  That expired 12/31/20.  The Commissioner has sole authority to make this determination again for the 2nd semester, yet he’s deferring that decision to wait on “legislative leadership.”  

PISD and many others, like Chambers of Commerce, have advocated for the extension of the hold harmless provision so that districts don’t have to deplete fund balances, borrow money to make payroll, or take drastic measures such as a RIF (reduction in force.)

Virtual Schools – We have learned some takeaways for the pandemic and know that Plano ISD deftly pivoted to provide remote instruction to students.  We had already had School, but the state does not provide funding for more than three courses.  We are advocating to receive full funding for students enrolled in virtual courses and have the ability to expand opportunities for virtual education to ensure traditional public schools can serve all students, and apply uniform guidelines equally to virtual charter schools and virtual education programs within traditional public schools.   Additionally, funding based on enrollment rather than attendance would be logical for virtual learning.

  • Funding by attendance or enrollment
    • Fund balance
  • Tax payer lobbying or censorship
  • School finance: Robin Hood/Recapture Financing
Plano Independent School District

Get to know your Candidates who are seeking your vote

Q & A

Place 1

Shafik Ben Guesmia

Semida Voicu

Lauren Tyra PISD candidate

Lauren Tyra

Meet the Candidates for Place 1

Shafik Ben Guesima

What motivates you to want to become a board member?  

I grow up going to a public school and I strongly believe in the power of public education. Plano ISD received a rating of “A” from the Texas Education Agency and that already answers many questions but we must keep improving curriculums and school programs to allow as many students as possible to reach their full potential. 

I am father to three exceptional children. My daughters, the first graduated last year from Plano West and the second is at Clark high school. My son is at Carlisle Elementary. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate and to sincerely thank Plano ISD teachers, staff and board of trustees for giving our communities great schools !

What particular skills or experiences in education qualify you to serve as a school board member?

I have over 25 years in journalism and I gave a lecture once at a university in journalism as a guest about researching and analyzing facts for the purpose of news articles, but that didn’t make me a university professor!
I also gave instructional talks on some subjects when I was a volunteer with the Red Cross & Red Crescent. 

I am the founder of 2 associations, one as a Sunday school and one to manage community cultural and social events. At the school, we were trying to support children to improve their math skills and learn a new language. Only 63% of the students in Plano are meeting or exceeding the learning standard in math. Why it’s not 80% or 90% ?  Same situation for reading, why we are not in the 90%?

My skills are in legal, journalism and in last two decades in contract management.

How long have you lived in this school district?

We were in and out of the state of Texas, having to leave for our jobs but blessed enough to find a way to come back. We are in Plano since 2009, 12 years in March.

What do you see as the current challenges facing public education in our state/district?

A public school should be properly funded to be effective.My main goal is to support substantive actions to have better reforms so we can as a school district function without having to adopt budgets deficits.

We must prevent increase in recapture in the coming years as this will severely hit our school district operations, cut funding to school programs and may beget lay offs and overcrowded classrooms.

Since 1993, our school district paid in recapture $1.9 billion to the state of Texas, while in the meantime had to borrow money subject to an interest rate for building repairs, technology update and the purchase of buses!

From my point of view the last House Bill 3 was a first positive echo to our School district claims but some districts were exonerated from recapture payment when Plano ISD is still burdened with it.

Considering the overall school population, we have to be able to address and fulfill the needs of several categories of students. Students from economically disadvantages families, neglected students and students exposed to violence and hurt emotionally and psychologically are the most vulnerable and are for certain more at risk of dropping out of school.

This fact alone represents 26% of the overall school population. We need to establish new programs and/or to optimize the existing ones to face this alarming situation.

There is also the academic challenge to better prepare our students to take on college degrees. There are some areas of improvement at the curriculum level that we must focus on.

Our teachers and staff must be able to accomplish their daily missions in optimal conditions and we are to be able to offer better financial compensation packages. We are to be very competitive in this area. 

In my opinion, these are the main areas we must focus on as parents but it is obvious that there are other issues that will require our commitment and efforts, with the first priority given to students. 

Please do not hesitate to call me at 214 695 2694 with questions or concerns, so I can answer and hear you directly, to be your voice at the board of Trustees, if you elect me to do so. 

I would like to serve the Plano ISD students and parents and if I may, I would like to ask for your vote.

Semida Voicu

What motivates you to want to become a board member?

I am a mom of five ranging from 14 years old to 21. I am involved in many levels of schooling and they are all important. Each grade comes with its own unique challenges and benefits. I want to be able to represent the many different stages in learning.

All grade levels are important, and parents should have an equal voice in the decisions for their students. All parents should have the same equal choice. For example: the choice to select virtual or face to face 5 days a week instruction this school year. Grades 9-12th were only allowed the choice for virtual or 2 days a week direct face to face instruction when the schools opened. All other grades were allowed to select virtual or 5 days at school.  We need a voice that hears our challenges and our hopes. A voice that listens and gives parental choice to all students across all grades.  

Our kids spend 12 years in school and the PISD statement resonates with me: “Powered by Learning.” We need to increase access to dual credit classes and vocational classes. These classes provide for learning and earning potential. We need to focus on the success of our students.

What Particular skills or experiences in education qualify you to serve as a school board Member?

I believe parents know what is best for their children. We as parents see what is working, what is not, what the major issues are, and parents should have a voice in the decisions being made. That parental input and guidance is critical to the school board. Being a current parent of students in multiple grades will provide for a better understanding of what is happening on a day-to-day basis.

I have two students in high school in the hybrid model of 2 days a week at school and one child in middle school in the virtual classes. Experience in both models is important to understand the implications. I have been involved in Plano’s PTAs at various schools for many years. That parental experience is critical to the school board.

I own my own independent real estate brokerage. I talk to people who want to move here. I listen to their needs and goals.  I facilitate and negotiate outcomes. I have a fiduciary duty to my clients to put their needs above anyone else’s and I will follow that fiduciary care for all of the PISD students.

I have an MBA in Management and have taken supplemental classes in Education. I am currently on the Career and Technical committee for PISD. CTE courses create the ability for students to obtain certifications in vocational trades while in high school.

This serves those students who are not planning to attend university to further their education and earning potential.

I am the Vice Chair for the Community Relations Commission for the City of Plano that oversees the Community Development Block Grant, Community Service Grants and provides recommendations on problems impacting the quality of life of Plano residents. I am invested in PISD and our students in Plano on a daily basis.  

How long have you lived in the District?

 I have lived in the PISD district for 21 years.

What do you see as the current challenges facing public education in our district? One of the biggest challenges facing PISD is declining enrollment numbers. 2045 students have unenrolled so far this school year.

That is a cost of $20 million dollars. 40% of those students were prekindergarten and kindergarten students. The district expected a decline per previous projections due to the natural cycle of cities. A loss of this magnitude has a major impact on the budget in the short term and the long term.  The issue is how do we get those students to come back? Do we know why they left? What model of education did they choose if they unenrolled but still live in Plano?   

An exit interview might be a method of obtaining some information. Asking what the concerns were for the parents is critical. Asking what the school could have done to alleviate the desire to withdraw is important information.

Asking what measures we could take to return these students to our ISD needs to be a major discussion and focus. I believe open dialogue with parents, active listening to parental and student concerns, and clear communication could have alleviated some of the loss. We need to retain our students and we need to retain our teachers.

Lauren Tyra

What motivates you to want to become a board member?

I am running for Plano ISD Board of Trustees to ensure all Plano students have the best opportunities possible. My husband and I both attended Plano schools from K-12. I attended Christie, Harrington, Carpenter, Clark, and Plano East. My husband attended Mendenhall, Bowman, Williams, and Plano East. After graduating from Plano East, we both attended the University of North Texas.

I pursued a PhD at UT Southwestern and my husband served as a commissioned officer in the US Army before pursuing an MBA and later a law degree.

The solid foundation that Plano schools provided to us has been a material source of our success as adults, in education, our careers, and my husband’s military service.

We returned to Plano to raise our family, knowing that PISD schools would be a big part of that journey. Plano ISD created better opportunities for us, and we hope it will do the same for our two children.

I want to join the PISD Board of Trustees to ensure those opportunities remain available for all children and young adults in Plano schools.

What particular skills or experiences in education qualify you to serve as a school board member?

My training as a scientist prepared me to work with the Board of Trustees as part of a team, building consensus, and using data to drive decision-making. Scientists often work in teams on research projects spanning several years, so I have experience with collaborative work that takes time and patience to pay off.

Now that I work in venture capital investing, I have learned to work effectively as part of a diverse, multidisciplinary team with people of different educational backgrounds.

In managing a startup portfolio, I provide guidance and oversight to companies we have invested in, much like the PISD Board of Trustees provides guidance and oversight to the district.

Being the mother of a deaf child has immersed me in the world of early childhood intervention and special education, in addition to the joy of raising a gifted child.

People very often judge my son based on his perceived disability rather than his actual abilities, and I have been steadfast in advocating for his needs.

My experience advocating for my son and understanding that different children and young adults have different needs has prepared me to advocate for all children and young adults across PISD.

How long have you lived in this school district? 

I grew up in Plano, attending PISD Schools before attending college and graduate school in Denton and Dallas, respectively.

In total, I have lived in Plano ISD about 22 years between growing up here and moving home to raise my family.

What do you see as the current challenges facing public education in our state/district?

One of the things we frequently discuss in the startup world is scale. How do you deliver a service at scale while controlling cost? I think this is an excellent framework for one of the biggest challenges for PISD.

How do we provide quality personalized education to students with individual needs and implement new, innovative programs at the same time as school districts are being asked to do more with less money?

Every student has different needs and circumstances, including gifted education, special education, economic need, family circumstances, and unique learning needs to name a few. Delivering effective education to a large and diverse student population is a significant challenge.

As a board member, I would work together with other board members and PISD staff to identify technology and education programs to help teachers deliver better education to students. It is important that these programs be outcome driven, delivering the results that meet Plano’s high standards.

Another significant challenge is preparing students for careers in fields that are requiring more STEM skills. Need for these skills is increasing in traditional STEM fields as well as non-traditional STEM career fields. Preparing graduates with STEM and technical skills, regardless of their plans to enter the workforce or attend college, is an accelerating need across education.

I believe we need to increase skills-based learning and ensure our students have valuable internship and technical learning opportunities across the spectrum.

Place 2

Angela Powell PISD

Angela Powell

Dayna Oscherwitz PISD

Dayna Osherwitz

Ajikwaga Felli PISD board

Ajikwaga Felli 

Meet the Candidates for Place 2

Angela Powell

What motivates you to want to become a board member?

Four years ago, when I ran the first time, I was motivated by my passion to advocate for our Special Needs population in Plano.  I was a good listener for our parents and wanted to serve our community by advocating more services for our students.  So, I ran for PISD Board of Trustee Place 2 in 2017. 

I was elected in May of 2017 and was honored with the opportunity to impact our district when we needed a strategic plan to support our quality public education.  I have served as a Plano Independent School District Parent Teacher Association Board Member at Isaacs Early childhood School (which was Barron Early Childhood School), Hickey Elementary School, Murphy Middle School and Williams High School. 

My years of volunteerism on PISD PTA Boards motivated me to do more for our students and community.

I am running again for my second term because I am committed to the safety and success of all our students.  The pandemic has caused so much disruption to our community. 

Our administration, staff, teachers, parents, and students were affected in different ways, but we all came together to work through this COVID-19 crisis. 

2005-2007       Isaacs Early Childhood School            Volunteer Chair

(was Barron Early Childhood School)

2008-2009       Hickey Elementary School,                 Carnival Chair

2009-2011       Hickey Elementary School,                 Display Case Coordinator

2011-2012       Hickey Elementary School,                 Special and Gifted Education Chair

2012-2013       Hickey Elementary School,                 Sponsorship Chair

2013-2014       Hickey Elementary School,                 Newcomer Coordinator

2013-2015       Murphy Middle School,                       Multicultural Coordinator

2018-2019       Williams High School,                          Community Partners Coordinator

What particular skills or experiences in education qualify you to serve as a school board member?

From serving as a PISD School Board Trustee, Place 2 since 2017, I have the most current information and experience to continue helping our students, parents, teachers, and staff. 

I understand the complexities of school board governances, the financial issues associated with our district’s operating budgets, school safety protocols, and educational advocacy.

I was a teacher for several years and have been dedicated to our community.  Also, by serving in different organizations and leadership roles, I believe my passion in volunteerism shows my skills and sensitive nature of loving my community. 

Leadership Roles:  Community Board Member/Liaison

  1. Board liaison for PISD Education Foundation 2019
  2. Board liaison for Junior League of Collin County 2019-2021
  3. Board liaison for Tech Titans (The Technology Association of North TX) 2019
  4. Board liaison for the North Texas Commission 2019
  5. Board liaison for Realtor’s Group 2017 & 2018
  6. Board liaison for the City of Murphy 2018
  7. Board liaison for the City of Parker 2018
  8. Board liaison for the Plano Homeowners Association 2017
  9. Board liaison for the PISD Council of PTA’s 2020-2021
  10. Board liaison for PISD Head Start 2020-2021
  11. HOA Board Member 2020-2021
  12. Texas Health Resources, Community Impact Collin County Leadership Council 2018-2020
  13. Transition and Career Fair, Williams High School, Philanthropy Chair, 2016-2019
  14. Vice President, Texas Business Women of Dallas Metro North, 2016-2018
  15.   St Joseph Catholic School Advisory Council, 2015-2018
  16. St Joseph Catholic Church/School Moms Group President, 2016-2017

How long have you lived in this school district?

I have lived in Plano with my family since 2005.  I was pregnant with my daughter Evelyn while I was volunteering at Isaacs Early Childhood School which was known as Barron Early Childhood School in 2005. 

I gave birth to my youngest daughter Evelyn in 2006 while my two boys attended our local PISD schools.  We have lived in our same Plano house for about 16 years and we love it here! 

I am a proud PISD mom, volunteer, and board member. 

What do you see as the current challenges facing public education in our state/district?

The pandemic has caused lost of learning time for our students in Texas.  There were damages to our students’ mental and physical health while school districts were mandated to go online virtually last year. 

When I was on the Texas Health Community Impact Collin County Leadership Council, I helped bring Plano Up to our school district to provide more wrap around services to our students. 

Students are my priority, and I am committed to ensure that our students get the individualized learning that they need.  School districts faced many challenges concerning with the safe reopening of our schools. 

The unpredictability of COVID-19 issues caused problems with schools being adequately staffed and students missing classroom work.  Also, we need to address STARR testing, public education support and funding.  I have approved our PISD Legislative priorities and remain focus on our district’s vision to create positive outcomes for all our students.

Dayna Oscherwitz

What motivates you to run for the Plano ISD Board of Trustees?

I am the first person in my family to go to college, and I am entirely the product of public education, from kindergarten through graduate school.  For that reason, I am a strong believer in the value of excellent public schools, and, I think, a testament to the potential that a strong public education can unlock.

The State of Texas adopted me and has been very good to me, and I have always looked for ways to repay that, and obviously, I have devoted my life to education, so that is the domain in which I feel best prepared to make a contribution.  I decided to run for the Plano ISD Board, because I thought the Board could potentially benefit from someone with knowledge and experience in education, someone who can see things from the point of view of a parent and the point of view of an educator, someone who has worked directly on issues such as equity in education, faculty recruitment and retention, and student recruitment and retention, and someone who has experience in educational financial management.   I have lived in Plano ISD for nearly twenty years, first in West Allen, and now in Far North Dallas, so I have many friends, neighbors, and colleagues who live in Plano ISD, whose children attend schools in Plano ISD, and I am interested in seeing the district go from strength to strength.  I believe that my experience in higher education administration also affords me unique insights, as there are many issues that face both K through 12 and post-secondary schools.  I have had success addressing many of these challenges Plano ISD currently faces, and I do think that positions me to help Plano ISD continue and strengthen its tradition of excellence.

That said, it was not my idea, at first, to run. 

Rather, I was recruited by some friends who felt that the Plano ISD Board could benefit from someone with substantial knowledge and experience in education, someone with firsthand knowledge of best practices in education, someone who has worked directly on issues such as equity in education, faculty recruitment and retention, and student recruitment and retention, and someone who has experience in educational financial management. 

What particular skills or experiences in education qualify you to serve as a school board member?

I have devoted my life to education.  It is my first and only calling, and I have nearly thirty years combined experience in education and educational administration. I am a certified teacher in the state of Texas. 

Before completing my Ph.D. at UT Austin, I taught both middle and high school in Texas public school districts, including in a high school for working and non-traditional students.

I also have twenty years of classroom experience in higher education, in both in-person and distance environments, and I have personally had to adapt my teaching, like so many teachers in the district, to the challenges of COVID-19. 

I will note that, although I am currently in a full-time administrative role, with no formal teaching responsibilities, I have continued to teach, because I believe it is important.  I have a high level of commitment to education, and I always do my utmost to support both teachers and learners and to find creative solutions to allow both groups to realize their full potential.  

My administrative experience has given me the opportunity to develop innovative educational programs and curriculum, including online programming, community engagement programs, and programs in writing, critical reasoning, and global engagement.  I also have direct experience in educational financial planning and budget management, and I have managed to find innovative solutions to deficit situations and tight budgets.

So, I understand the goals and concerns of both teachers and educational administrators. 

As a parent, and as someone with many friends with children in the district, I also understand the point of view of students and their parents. I think my ability to empathize with diverse stakeholders would bring a unique point of view to the Plano ISD Board.

How long have you lived in the district?

I’ve lived in Plano ISD since 2002, so nearly 19 years.  I first lived in West Allen, and we were zoned first to Plano East, and then rezoned to Plano High School.  

In 2016, we moved to Far North Dallas, but chose to remain in Plano ISD.   We are currently in the Frankford corridor, and we are zoned to Plano West High School.

What do you see as the current challenges facing public education in our state/district?

Plano ISD is an excellent school district.  That said, it, like many other districts, faces a number of challenges.  Chief among these are the budgetary challenges resulting from the state’s educational funding system. 

In addition, while many Plano students succeed beautifully, the range of students in the district means that many students in Plano ISD are economically disadvantaged, others have learning differences or other challenges.  Still others are academically gifted.

A key issue therefore is finding a way to balance the needs of these diverse groups in order to make sure that they are all successful and able to meet their learning goals, whether this means attending an elite university, or getting state of the art career preparation and training. 

This means supporting early childhood and pre-K education, offering robust special education programs, supporting arts, STEM, and humanities education, and having educational choice options such as magnet schools. 

Beyond these measures, we must make sure that schools continue to be safe environments for students, which means having a working strategy to prevent and addressing bullying and strategies for identifying students who may be in need of mental health support. 

Education, today, is in many ways, more complex than it has ever been, but with knowledge, determination, and ingenuity, Plano ISD has managed to lead and can continue to be a leader in educational excellence, and I pledge to do my utmost, if elected, to help the district continue on that path.

Ajikwaga Felli

What motivates you to want to become a board member?

The main driving factor was the vacant slots in two places during the first couple of weeks of filing. I have a child in the school district and will have children in it for a long time.

The board plays a key role in shaping the school district and I thought I could contribute positively to its growth. My background in public health and international exposure can also potentially add to the diversity and overall strength of the board.

What particular skills or experiences in education qualify you to serve as a school board member?

Parent – seeking the best educational experience for the children in the school district.

Healthcare Professional – work with children from diverse backgrounds and learn that health is vital to the success of our children.

Professor/Teaching Assistant – whether tutoring college students or mentoring dental students you realize there is the need for evolution and innovation to adapt to change.

Volunteer – whether it is with our local elementary school or church youth group one realizes that it takes a community to raise and plan for our children’s future.

How long have you lived in this school district?

Despite the fact that I have lived in this school district for less than 2 years, I think it may be an advantage to bring a fresh perspective and, in addition, new and creative ideas. I believe one of greatest strengths of PISD is its diversity which includes various ethnicities, professions, and age groups among others. I look forward to serving the Plano community whether or not I get elected to the board.

What do you see as the current challenges facing public education in our state/district?

Plano ISD, like any other school districts, has both unique and common issues. The present issue is making the necessary changes and adopting technologies to prevent disruption of education, and at the same time keeping the community safe.

One of my goals is to work with experts and stakeholders to achieve the best possible solutions for Plano ISD.

Place 3

Lynn Walling PISD

Lynn Walling

Meet PISD Board of Trustees Place 3

Nancy Humphrey

What motivates you to want to become a board member?

I’m passionate about education; it is the most important key to an individual’s economic prosperity, plain and simple.  We are fortunate to live in a country where education is offered to all, and the education a student receives in Plano ISD is ranked top in the country.  It’s no secret that people have moved to the District for many years, because of the excellent education. 

I’d say it has contributed to much of the economic development in Plano because businesses locate where families want to live and there is an educated workforce.  I’m committed to serve on a board that provides governance and oversight to ensure that Plano ISD maintains its excellent standard of education.

I’m a 5th generation Texan and lived in this area all my life. We located our family in the District intentionally, so that our children would attend Plano ISD.  We have lived on both the west side and east side of the district.  My daughter attended the International Baccalaureate program at Williams HS and Plano East, and she graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2018. 

Two years out of college, she’s already a successful management consultant.  My son graduated from Plano East where he received experience on the Panther Prints newspaper.  He attended the School of Journalism at University of Missouri and one year after college he’s a television news reporter in Colorado Springs.  I know they had excellent teachers and received a top-notch primary and secondary education from Plano ISD which set them up for success in college.

I pledge to serve the students, families, teachers, and stakeholders of the District and give my promise to serve our community with honesty, integrity, and dedication, looking through a lens that focuses on what is best for every student in Plano ISD, as I have for 11 years.

What particular skills or experiences in education qualify you to serve as a school board member?

In 11 years on the board, I’ve served as President, VP, and Secretary.  I chaired the Board Audit Committee for 9 years, served as Liaisons to: City of Richardson (11 yrs.), City of Plano (7 yrs.), Richardson Chamber of Commerce Education and Workforce Committee (3 yrs), Head Start Policy Council (7 yrs.), was one of 36 trustees in Texas to participate in Leadership TASB (2015), earning designation of Master Trustee.

During one of my three terms as President, our Board was named Outstanding Board in Region 10 and one of five Honor Board in Texas.

I have extensive knowledge about the system of public education, in Texas and especially in Plano ISD.  I’ve been proud to serve on a board that has promoted academic choices for our students.

I advocated to establish the Health Science Academy at Williams HS and PESH, the International Baccalaureate School at Huffman ES, and the partnership with Collin Technical Campus to offer courses in advanced industry careers.

I thoroughly understand the complex system of school finance and am an advocate for public education, transparency in taxation, and property tax relief.  I also understand the school district budgeting process, accounting system, and bond indebtedness management. 

Currently, I’m leading the Board’s Legislative Subcommittee to advocate for Plano ISD’s legislative priorities during this current 87th session.

I have exceeded required training every year for 11 years to keep informed on public education, including state and federal requirements.

I have a proven record of service on the Plano ISD Board of Trustees and am committed to serve another four years. My connections with District personnel, state and federal legislators, State Board of Education, the cities of Plano and Richardson, Chambers of Commerce, Rotary, business leaders, and trustees across Texas provide valuable resources to everyone that I serve. 

I’m recognized in the community for the work I do, most recently receiving the Athena Award from the Best of Plano by the Plano Chamber of Commerce.

I stay current on all matters relating to public education, school finance, and listening to our community.  I devote my full time to the role as a trustee and am extremely qualified for the job!

How long have you lived in this school district?

My husband and I have lived within the District boarders since 1993, or 28 years.  I have lived in this area my entire life and attended school in Richardson ISD.

What do you see as the current challenges facing public education in our state/district?

Learning loss due to pandemic – support the use of data to determine and address the need by student; we have the tools to do that.  Plano ISD has an excellent system of data to measure student growth, beyond what the STAAR exam measures.  The MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) test is administered several times during the school year to define a baseline and measure growth to provide teachers with accurate, and actionable evidence to help target instruction for each student or groups of students regardless of how far above or below they are from their grade level.  This will be a valuable tool to help determine every student’s need and a direction for teachers to individualize instruction to make up any learning loss related to the pandemic.

School finance – advocate in Austin for adequate funding for public schools and transparency in taxation for our taxpayers.  Although HB3 that was signed into law during the 86th legislative session provided property tax relief via tax rate compression, districts who are subject to Chapter 49 of the Education Code continue to see rising recapture when enrollment is not increasing.  PISD is in an area with a large property tax base but has experienced enrollment decline as the community ages and larger high school classes graduate and smaller kindergarten classes enroll. PISD is the second-largest contributor of recapture taxes.  Since the inception of recapture in 1993, PISD has paid over $1.5 Billion of local dollars back to the state—with no accountability.

The state legislature is mandated by its Constitution, Article 7, Section 1, to provide an efficient system of public schools.  The state relies heavily on local property taxes to fund this system. As property values increase, the state’s share of funding declines, saving the state billions of dollars over time, permitting it to fund other items in its budget.  Our local taxpayers need accountability to determine where our local tax dollars go—I call this Taxparency.  How many of your tax dollars paid in the name of PISD go into the state general fund and may not even fund public schools?

The remedy is complex; the state must find alternate sources of revenue to meet its constitutional commitment (not income tax). This has been a topic for many legislative sessions.  I support a cap on the recapture tax and encourage legislators to find an equitable manner to fund public education.

Safe and healthy schools – Students have been impacted by the pandemic and the remote instruction models.  The District has incurred extensive costs for PPE and the costs associated with the pandemic.  In addition to funding for these related costs, I support the prioritization of the mental and physical health of students by providing a new allotment for school counselors, nurses, and other essential staff to better address individual issues, including crisis situations

Unlevel playing field with public charter schools – Charter schools are public schools in that they receive tax dollars from the State.  However, they are not held to the same standards as traditional public schools.  They are not required to hire teachers that are certified.  They are managed by private management organizations, whose fees cause Charters to have administrative cost percentages in excess of the administrative cost percentages of traditional public schools. Taxpayers should not pay for diseconomies of scale.

Their governing boards are not elected by taxpayers to provide oversight and governance.  Most charter school buildings, materials, furniture and equipment are owned by a private company and leased to the school.  Taxpayers should not incur the increased burden to fund duplicative capital projects the charters require. Taxpayers should not have to fund schools that are privately run, lacking transparency and accountability. Taxpayers should not have to fund schools who have the discretion to limit admission to a certain class of students resulting in unequal access for students.  Finally, most charter school students perform no better or worse than their peers in traditional public schools.

Ultimately, funding for charters siphons funding away from the traditional public school system and generates diseconomies of scale, requiring taxpayers to fund a parallel school system without providing better outcomes.  I will continue to advocate for equitable funding for traditional public education.  Why should taxpayers fund a duplicative system of education if it doesn’t provide better outcomes?

Vouchers – Private schools are not accountable to the public for any dollars received.  They are not required to meet state and federal accountability standards.  They are not required to hire certified teachers. Academic outcomes – nationally, private school students score somewhat higher than public school peers on NAEP, but the gap has been narrowing. 

A study that controlled for poverty and other demographic information shows no difference in student performance in math.  Private schools choose which students will be enrolled; they are exclusive.  I continue to advocate to oppose any legislation that would remove funding from public education.

Lynn Walling

What motivates you to want to become a board member?

Having grown up in the Plano ISD system myself, I received a great education and foundation for my future. I know that every policy, law, rule, and regulation put in place has the greatest impact on the wellbeing of our children and their future. I want to make sure the students enrolled today receive an even better education than I did.

This past year with Covid, has been a struggle for everyone, especially “inside” the classroom. Teachers, students, and parents are having to navigate uncharted waters and I want to be able to provide all the innovation, encouragement and support I can. I came to the realization, the only way to truly make a difference is to step up and get involved. What particular skills or experiences in education qualify you to serve as a school board member?

Connecting with people is an inherent specialty of mine. Relationship building carries a strong presence in every role I have held. From banking, volunteer work, serving on a board for a Young Professional nonprofit that assisted foster children in the North Texas area with education resources, connecting with elementary school children when I spent time teaching their class as a Junior Achievement volunteer, event coordinating and marketing – the diversity of my positions enables[L1]  me to connect with individuals from all backgrounds. More importantly, I am ambitious and persistent. I will not rest until I am able to make a positive impact on students, teachers, and the community.

 How long have you lived in this school district?

I have lived in the Plano School District for the majority of my life! I attended 1st through 12th grade in PISD schools, and I graduated from Plano West Senior High.  

What do you see as the current challenges facing public education in our state/district?

Plano ISD has always been known for providing high quality education to its students.

Unfortunately, because of Covid this past year, the ability to consistently deliver this education has been challenged and, in some cases, exposed some weaknesses. I believe this is due to the shutdowns and the switch from classroom schooling to virtual/hybrid schooling.

A study done by the Teaching Systems Lab at M.I.T found that students motivation has lowered through a computer screen, teaching is not a one-size-fits all model – virtual learning caused teachers to lose their ability to tailor classes for each of their students needs, and not all students have equal access to the resources needed for virtual learning, and even if they do, there have been numerous reports of the computer programs freezing or losing connection in the middle of the lesson (Buttimer, Coleman, Colwell, Faruqi, Larke, Reich, 2020).

It is not fair to our youth to expect them to succeed in an environment that is mind-numbing and provides no engagement or social aspect. 

I know that if we all work together on returning back to school quickly and safely, PISD can deliver the high quality of education we have grown accustomed to.

Texas public education has a high focus on standardized testing (STAAR). Even when I was in school there was a huge emphasis on TAAS & TAKS testing. At my high school, we performed well and the school hung a massive banner on the front of the school about having the top 1% grades for the state test. A recent survey of 2,751 teachers across the state brought up that they are forced to teach only towards the STARR test, limiting the students’ education to only those topics (Collum, 2021).

It is time to make students, not test scores, the priority in the classroom.

I believe it is also important to keep our eye on spending to make sure it’s in the best interest of teachers, students, and parents. 

Plano ISD should be completely transparent and have open communication with the community about the budget and goal behind each expense.

This can help strengthen trust between PISD and the citizens of Plano, and it will help PISD gain even more support from the community.

As a school board member, I am going to ensure the needs of our students, teachers, and parents are met while doing my due diligence to either maintain the current tax rate or lower it at the next budget cycle by being fiscally responsible.

Place 6

Meet the PISD Board of Trustees Place 6

Jeri Chambers

What motivates you to want to become a board member?

My daughter and son benefitted greatly from their Plano ISD education from Kindergarten to 12th grade. They not only had an excellent academic preparation, but they also had amazing leadership development opportunities through student government, athletics, band, and Peer Assisted Learning (PALs). 

Their experience motivates me to serve as a board member to ensure that EVERY Plano ISD student has a pathway to explore and succeed in their own academic and extracurricular interests and passions.

What particular skills or experiences in education qualify you to serve as a school board member?

As a school board trustee since 2018, I earned the trust of the other trustees and was elected Board Secretary and then Board Vice President.  I have served on the Audit Committee, Board Operating Protocol Committee, and the Board Advisory Committee.

I have been the Board liaison to the Plano Chamber of Commerce and served as a delegate to both the Texas Association of School Boards and the National School Board Association Advocacy Institute.

I have learned much and dedicated much time and diligence during my last three years of board service. However, it is my experience as a classroom teacher that most qualifies me to serve as a school board member. I have taught at both the elementary and secondary levels in Plano ISD.

I value the importance of public education and know the commitment and perseverance it takes to teach and deliver education excellence.

How long have you lived in this school district?

25 years as homeowner, taxpayer, teacher and parent.

What do you see as the current challenges facing public education in our state/district?

Certainly COVID 19 has caused the greatest challenge to public education and society we have faced in our lifetimes. The pandemic will not last. I look forward to the opportunity to address the consequences, learnings, and opportunities that have emerged from this year-long disruption.

  • Repair any academic loss.
  • Enhance the rapport between teachers and students.
  • Sustain connectivity to broadband access and bridge the digital divide.
  • Integrate comprehensive support services for both physical and mental health and well-being.
  • Evaluate new and developing teaching and learning practices and scale them to benefit all students.
  • Examine policies and procedures to focus on improving outcomes and to provide college, career, and life readiness for all students.
  • Ensure economic recovery.

Marilyn Loughray

What motivates you to want to become a board member? 

My motivation is that my family relocated to Dallas in the late 80s and chose Plano Schools because of the reputation. My 2 children went through the public schools; Huffman, Renner, Shepton, and Plano Senior, graduating in the late 90s. They went on to college and started their families. 

It was an excellent school district.  Then when my husband and I found ourselves raising 3 of our grandchildren, we got involved again with Plano Schools. I am a grandmother with 3 orphaned grandchildren and I have found myself trying to get someone to listen to parent’s stories of children’s mental and physical suffering, and the inferior curriculum. I’ve protested, and wrote letters to NO avail. 

I’m running because our Board and Superintendent has let us parents down and most of all, our children.  We don’t have a voice.  We need to fix what is happening to our schools, fix what is happening to our children and community. 

We have to pull together and do this, so I want to be that voice of reason.  That voice of common sense.  I want to advocate for parent choice and transparency.  Our education is not equitable.  

What do you see as the current challenges facing public education in our district?  

One of the biggest challenges is fixing what they have broke.  Our superior curriculum is inferior.  Our student base is shrinking.  It was shrinking pre-Covid and now people are moving out post-Covid. 

People are moving to find a public education for their children.  Interest rates are low, the market is hot, and it’s easy for them to relocate.  The Board and Superintendent need to step back and evaluate what they want to look like as a public school.  They need to realize what they need to do to keep families in Plano and to bring families into Plano. 

Our debt needs to be addressed.  When you’re paying $45 million dollars in interest on a school debt annually, it is a big problem in a shrinking student environment.  Some serious attempts to hear the parents and the children need to be made.  Advisory Groups, Work Groups, Open Discussions, Collaboration, Consultants.

My platform is:  Open the Schools; Parent Choice, Superior Curriculum, Financial Transparency

What particular skills or experiences in education qualify you to serve as a school board member? 

I have a BA in Political Science.  I have worked in the corporate world for most of my career.  I’ve climbed the latter but now I’m working from home as a Business Analyst and I am a Realtor working with a niched group of referrals. 

I ask questions, I push, I don’t just go along with the group and I use my God given common-sense.  I bring common-sense and conservative values.  I bring life experience as a mom and grandmother.  I’m not politically correct but I will try to work on that.  I don’t know fancy statistics or education terminology.  I like simplicity, so if it’s been made complicated, the first thing I’m going to do is try to simplify it.  And I’m a bottom line person…

How long have you lived in this school district?

I have lived here since 1987.  33 plus years.

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