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FISD School Board Elections Candidates

· FISD,School Board,election

Frisco Gifted Association does not endorse any particular candidate for the upcoming FISD School Board Election, but encourages everyone to educate themselves about the candidates and exercise the right to vote!

Early Voting Dates & Times

Monday, April 24-Saturday, April 29 (this week!): 8 AM-5 PM Daily  Monday, May 1-Tuesday, May 2: 7 AM-7 PM Daily

Election Day is Saturday, May 6: 7AM-7PM

Two school board places are on the ballot, place 4 and place 5. Board members are elected at-large by the citizens in FISD to three-year, staggered terms.
 

The candidates are as follows:

Place 4
Asanga Jayatilaka
Anne McCausland
Jeff Snowden

Place 5
Debbie Gillespie
Bryan Powell
Grace Wang

Collin County voters may cast ballots at any polling location in Collin County during early voting and on Election Day.

 

Collin County Polls
Collin College (all campuses)
Fire #8 (by Liberty High School)
Maus Middle School
Hunt Middle School
Carpenter Park Recreation Center (Plano)
*All Collin County Polling locations are open from 8 AM - 7 PM on Thursday, April 27.

Denton County voters can cast ballots at any polling location in Denton County during early voting; however, they must vote by precinct on Election Day.

Denton County Polls
Griffin Middle School
Fire #7 (Stonebrook and 423)
Little Elm Public Library
Hicks Elementary (Election Day Only)
*Denton County must vote in precinct on Election Day.

We posed a list of questions to each of the candidates listed via the email address they provided on their election application. Not all candidates responded. Responses are copied and pasted verbatim with no additions, deletions or corrections made by Frisco Gifted Association.

Anne McCausland
Place 4

1. What is your experience with gifted education?

​I have a daughter who has been a part of the gifted program since she was identified in Kindergarten.

2. How do you think Frisco ISD is doing in serving our academically gifted and advanced academics population?

​In my opinion, Frisco ISD is a great district but not perfect (no district is perfect!) so there is always some room to improve on services provided to our gifted students.

3. Where do you see room for improvement in how we currently serve our academically gifted students?

​My hope is that as enrollment growth slows in the next 5-7 years we can offer GT magnet and STEAM schools at the elementary and middle school level. I also would like to see FISD continue to explore the option of offering an IB school. ​

4. Describe your measure on whether a district is meeting the needs of their most advanced learners.

I believe to determine if we are meeting the needs of our advanced learners we should engage the parents of the students as well as the students themselves. Each family will have a different measure of achievement for their student. One family may want to see a designated GT grade level class at the elementary level while another may want a more frequent and extended pull out program at that level. FISD needs to continue to garner parent and community feedback regarding our offerings and curriculum for advanced learners. As a district, we also should continue to strive to be a leader, not a follower, in all areas of academic achievements.

5. How do you anticipate recent proposed changes in funding at the state level and the potential budget changes to affect programs serving​ g​ifted/talented and advanced academics programs?

​It is difficult to predict what changes will happen at the state level for any education funding or specific program funding until the gavel drops on May 29, 2017. Amendments and changes to bills are always possible. Regardless of what happens at the state or federal level, FISD’s focus will always be on academics, achievement, and student success.

6. Please share any additional comments to clarify your position on key educational issues.

Frisco ISD began a five-month-long process in January 2015 to develop a strategic plan to guide the District for three to five years. Hundreds of educators, parents, students, and community members shared their input and helped to develop strategies, objectives, and actions plans to define and shape the District’s work in the future. The intent was to hone and refine efforts in targeted areas using existing resources to ensure the best possible outcomes for students.

Action Plan 1.1.3 in the Strategic plan is to: Increase learning opportunities for students through a variety of academic programming options. To support that plan, FISD committed to provide additional learning opportunities for students receiving gifted and talented services.

Planning and implementation occurred this year in the following areas:

· Humanities GT 1 was implemented at the high school level and Humanities GT 2 will be implemented in 2016-17.

· An elementary coordinator position was created to increase focus on this program and an elementary focus group has been formed to support the planning process for increasing learning opportunities.

· The GT committee has reviewed the FISD GT district guidelines and is in the process of working on a document to help clarify the roles of cluster teachers, GT teachers and campus administration within the program.

While I recognize the oversight of the district’s finances is one of the board’s key responsibilities, our main focus as a board has always been to maximize student achievement.

Jeff Snowden

Place 4

1. What is your experience with gifted education?

I never qualified growing up, so not much. Not sure whether we had one down in Cotulla, Texas. My 3 kids have been in AP classes but no Gifted Programs.

2. How do you think Frisco ISD is doing in serving our academically gifted and advanced academics population?

After numerous conversations with teachers, my answer is I don’t think we are doing well. I was told that the program is diluted and that GT kids basically get extra handouts to complete and are not being challenged.

3. Where do you see room for improvement in how we currently serve our academically gifted students?

FISD should be more selective when considering students for the GT Program. Once admitted, our teachers should be given the resources to challenge these students to excel and tap into their potential.

4. Describe your measure on whether a district is meeting the needs of their most advanced learners.

Feedback from students, teachers, and parents.

5. How do you anticipate recent proposed changes in funding at the state level and the potential budget changes to affect programs serving gifted/talented and advanced academics programs?

First of all I challenge FISD assumptions regarding how much the state will cut FISD funding over the next 4 years. A $101 million drop in the Foundation School Program is beyond a worst case scenario. Adjust that assumption and everything changes. That said, keep in mind that last year FISD’s total revenue was $605 million, up $63 million from the prior year. We do not have a revenue problem! The more time we spend blaming the state for bad programs and trying to justify unneeded tax increases, the less focus we place on valuable programs like Gifted and Talented. It’s about priority and focus. If a budget proposal seeks increases in administrative costs at the expense of the GT program, this candidate will just say no every time, but you have to be able to catch things like that.

6. Please share any additional comments to clarify your position on key educational issues.

That is all I have time for at this time.

Grace Wang

Place 5

1. What is your experience with gifted education?

I have a GT child, who has been through Riddle Elementary and is currently in Fowler Middle School. She has had wonderful GT teachers with whom she developed personal relationships with and GT classes are her favorite.

2. How do you think Frisco ISD is doing in serving our academically gifted and advanced academics population?

I think FISD has done a great job with its GT programs. I think the GT curriculum is appropriate for each level—the pull-out program is fun and challenging for elementary kids; ILA in middle school really advances students’ written communication and critical thinking skills. I’m also very excited about GT Humanity in high school where literature and history are intertwined to teach students not only literary and history knowledge but also a global perspective.

3. Where do you see room for improvement in how we currently serve our academically gifted students?

For middle school students, I would like to see more GT class options in the areas of science because currently there are only advanced ILA and math classes.

4. Describe your measure on whether a district is meeting the needs of their most advanced learners.

At the very minimal level, the district should meet the state mandated hours for teachers’ and admins’ professional training on gifted education. Beyond that we should measure and benchmark the number of GT teachers, students and instructional time.

5. How do you anticipate recent proposed changes in funding at the state level and the potential budget changes to affect programs serving gifted/talented and advanced academics programs?

I’m against SB2145 which is to repeal GT allotment. I think it’s very important that we do have funds specifically allotted to gifted education. After voicing my concerns with state representatives with lots of help from other parents, I believe there is very little chance SB2145 will be passed.

6. Please share any additional comments to clarify your position on key educational issues.

The #1 variable that predicts student success is teacher. Who we hire, what we pay, how we support, and how we provide training and mentorship is crucial to ensuring the success of our students. I believe FISD’s #1 initiative should be evaluating how to make teacher’s pay more competitive, and create more supporting mechanism so that teachers do less administration and more teaching.

Debbie Gillespie

Place 5

1. What is your experience with gifted education?

I have many friends with students in gifted education as well as family members that are in programs all over the state.

2. How do you think Frisco ISD is doing in serving our academically gifted and advanced academics population?

I believe that we are following state laws and district guidelines, however I do hear that many parents think we should be doing more. Many teachers and librarians are finding creative ways to not only engage and challenge students, but also bring all students together through common interests.

3. Where do you see room for improvement in how we currently serve our academically gifted students?

As we continue to grow, however move closer to being built out, I would like to see us move towards academies or magnet programs that focus on STEAM and fine arts. It is important that we include parents and students in the planning process to ensure that we are providing the appropriate levels of programming. State law and our TEKS tell us what we have to provide in our curriculum, however I do believe that we could find ways to tailor and expand our programs based on student interests.

4. Describe your measure on whether a district is meeting the needs of their most advanced learners.

The parents that I have spoken to about our gifted education program all have a different vision of what the program should look like. Our student achievement continues to increase which means that we also need to continue to look at what we offer and how we can provide innovative, meaningful educational programs.

5. How do you anticipate recent proposed changes in funding at the state level and the potential budget changes to affect programs serving gifted/talented and advanced academics programs?

We have over 10% of our students that are identified for GT programs, however our funding is only about 5%. As the state continues to cut funding, we are having to make some decisions that could possibly alter many programs. One example is that we cannot offer every high level AP classes at every campus. Students are able to take the classes on other campuses, but we are no longer able to transport them to that campus. FISD’s focus will continue to be on providing the best that we can to ensure that all students are given what they need to succeed. I am a very active advocate for our students on the local, state and national level and we are doing a much better job of getting parents involved in the legislative process in order to fight for what our students deserve.

6. Please share any additional comments to clarify your position on key educational issues.

I do believe there is always room for improvement. FISD is committed to meeting the needs of every student, however we are also challenged with funding those needs. Community involvement is very important in knowing what parents expect and what we can realistically provide. I strongly believe in making sure that every child feels capable, cared for and connected.

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