Linda McConnell announced she is running for Frisco ISD board of trustees, Place 7 in the May 5 general election
The seat is currently held by John Hoxie, who was first elected to the school board in 2009.
Places 6 and 7 are up for election this year.
Community Impact Newspaper asked McConnell a series of questions. Her responses, edited for publication style, are below.
1. Why did you decide to run for school board?
I decided to run for the school board because I am a concerned parent and taxpayer. I want to make a difference. FISD has an annual budget of $657 million. My vision is for FISD to be the gold standard of public education. Students and our teachers deserve better leadership. It is time for taxpayer relief.
FISD’s mission of knowing students by name and need is not good enough. We need to make sure when policy is set, student needs are met. Frisco is constantly rezoning students as acceptable practice. I believe it is time to think outside the box about rezoning due to the ISD’s failure to strategically build and properly locate its schools. I am a Realtor and understand the local market. We are experiencing a demographic shift as we move from a fast-growth to a mature growth school district, which is important to future planning success.
Parents want a high-quality education so that their children can reach their educational and career goals. While students can graduate with an associate degree upon high school graduation, many parents feel the need to hire private tutors. Parents notice a poor introduction to college material. AP classes are required to get into the best universities. School GPA and class rank has become a game for students. Some parents feel there is not focus on all learning types, resulting in some kids slipping through the cracks.
Support of another TRE has been repeatedly endorsed in campaign forums by board President Mr. Classe and my opponent. This behavior is reckless. Their views lead one to believe they have zero financial competency and will continue to serve the administrations love affair with our tax dollars at the cost of teachers and students. There are surpluses all over the balance sheet. $175 million of your money is needlessly stockpiled for emergency use. FISD even admits it is over-collecting on the debt servicing tax by $26 million per year. The board fully supports FISD partnerships with local private enterprise. Today there are whispers of another new partnership with the PGA on the construction of two golf courses. Taxpayers are paying the highest property taxes in history. No one can afford over taxation, and students and teachers keep losing.
The board negligence continues. They simply overlook recommendations by the Priority Based Budgeting Committee to cut administration fees by 2 percent. Even worse, the board approves needless additional spending for the purchase of a time clock app at the cost of $430,000 with an annual maintenance fee of $170,000. The ISD admits the purchase has zero return on investment. None of this is made up, and it gets even worse. They hit parents with an additional tax for parking fees and team sports. Parents beg for school safety at the open mic, but their voice falls on deaf ears.
Teachers deserve better leadership. Every year they must hope and pray for incremental annual raises. Teachers feel the need to spend money from their own resources to pay for classroom tools. Our best teachers are attracted to better-paying jobs outside of the district. A lack of spending oversight and quality management at the school level contributes to the overall inefficiency and quality of work environment for teachers. When elected, I will be a trustee who will listen to teachers and make sure their needs are fully addressed and in the budget. I will put a system in place that holds principals accountable and gives teachers a voice.
The board’s behavior is proof that current trustees do not understand their job is to challenge the ISD to deliver a high-quality education. Their neglect of operating with transparency and fiscal responsibility requires an immediate need for ongoing outside cursory audits. No more back room deals. It is time for open debate so the public can see who is working for them. I will be a trustee for the people.
2. What experience have you gained that you think prepares you for this position?
As the former PTA president of Riddle Elementary, a two-year volunteer commitment, I got to know our community and school very well. I walked the halls with students, worked with teachers and administration while serving our community. I followed the school board meetings, saw the TRE come forth and its failure and witnessed a lack of oversight by administration. At the school level, this causes strains on working relationships. I traveled to Austin to meet with state representatives to advocate for school funding. As a local Realtor, I understand the demographic shift that is taking place in our area due to rising home values. This is important for future planning. My degree is in business from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and I understand that being a trustee is about the business of educating all children.
3. If elected, what would be your top priorities?
My top priorities are:
- a tax reduction on the agenda this year;
- dedicated teacher resources in the budget;
- a commitment to achieve drug-, gun- and bully-free schools;
- repeal the board operating rule, which only allows issues agreed upon by two trustees to be placed on the agenda. No one in our community should be silenced.
4. What else do you want voters to know about you and your background?
- Former Riddle Elementary PTA president
- Recipient of the Texas PTA Honorary Life Award, one of the highest forms of recognition for volunteerism and dedication to children and the community
- Parishioner of Prince of Peace Catholic Church
- Faith Formation Sunday School teacher
- Scouting volunteer for Cub Scout Pack 4380 and Northern Lights District 2015 summer camp director
- As a Collin County Junior League member, was the chair of City House, a group home for at-risk youth
- HOA president and board member for the Crystal Creek Community
- Local Realtor
- Mother of two boys ages 10 and 11
- Married for 15 years to Ruston McConnell
- Lived in FISD since 2003 except for four years when living in Japan during my husband’s expatriate assignment