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Forum features PISD candidates

by | Apr 26, 2023 | Latest

All nine candidates for the Plano Independent School District Board fielded questions at a voter information forum in the Murphy City Council Chambers.

Organizer Maggie Whitt presented questions at the Monday, April 17, event.

The participants included Place 4 contenders Margaret Turner-Carrigan, Tarrah Lantz and Lydia Ortega; Place 5 candidates Michael Cook, Khalid Ishaq and Greg Jubenville; and Place 7 hopefuls Katherine Chan Goodwin, Simon Salinas and incumbent Cody Weaver.

Each candidate had one minute to answer and participants took turns answering first.

One question asked the candidates about their experience with budgeting and finance.

Lantz said she had worked on PTA budgets and served on the bond task force. She said it was important for a trustee to be “very familiar where that money is supposed to go.”

Ortega said she had broad experience as a finance chair and auditor while Cook said “budgeting is not an issue” for him. Cook said he had raised $50 million as a businessman and for the past two years had attended Plano ISD board meetings. He was aware there is a $38 million hole that “needs to be filled.”

Ishaq said he had led IT divisions and had “tons and tons” of experience in budgeting.

Jubenville said he had created and analyzed budgets in his real estate construction company, saying, “budgets are second nature to me.” He said he understood the need for better efficiencies in the school district to overcome the $38 million deficit.

Goodwin said as a company CEO she was familiar with budgets, had been a PTA treasurer for 16 years and was treasurer of the Art Center of Plano.

Salinas said as a student and now a substitute teacher he could see how the budget got translated into the classrooms. He said the district needed to focus on the deficit and not create expensive programs while it had a deficit.

Weaver said as a trustee his experience was directly with the PISD budget, he believed zero-based budgeting was “very important” and he thought legislators in Austin needed to make recapture fairer, something he had worked on as a member of the district’s legislative subcommittee.

Turner-Carrigan said as managing attorney for the Texas Attorney General she oversaw a multi-million-dollar budget and had been dealing with budgets of various organizations over the past 20 years.

A yes-no question involved whether student athletes who were born male but identifying as female should be allowed to compete on girls’ sports teams.

Jubenville, Weaver, Turner-Carrigan, Lantz, Ortega, Cook and Ishaq said “no,” while Goodwin and Salinas said “yes.”

On the subject of restricting sexually explicit books in school libraries,

Weaver said, “There should not be any sexually explicit books in libraries.”

But he said as a trustee his job was not to take books off the shelf but to create a policy and process where the community can challenge a book, which he had done.

Turner-Carrigan agreed that there should be a process to remove books, but she did not think anybody should challenge a book that they themselves had not read. “We don’t need to run out and start burning books,” she said.

Lantz said she did not think “there are super-explicit pornographic books in our library,” but parents were able to talk with librarians to restrict the books their children should be allowed to check out.

Ortega said graphic novels gave pleasure, were addictive and were a detriment to education.

Cook said there was a process to remove books, but it needed to work faster.

Ishaq said library books should be more age-appropriate and sexually explicit books had no place in school libraries.

Jubenville said publishers needed to be held responsible for the content of books, with policies that “have some teeth in them.”

Goodwin said she loved books and trusted “our certified, professional librarians to select age-appropriate content.”

Salinas said there had to be community involvement in selecting books, “but what I don’t agree with is attacking librarians.”

Early voting for the Saturday, May 6, general election starts Monday, April 24. Murphy and Plano voters will select Plano ISD board members since the PISD operates Murphy schools.

By Bob Wieland

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