Election Q&A: Frisco ISD board of trustees Place 4

Learn more about the candidates running for the Frisco ISD board of trustees Place 4 race ahead of the November general election. (Community Impact staff)
Learn more about the candidates running for the Frisco ISD board of trustees Place 4 race ahead of the November general election. (Community Impact staff)

Learn more about the candidates running for the Frisco ISD board of trustees Place 4 race ahead of the November general election. (Community Impact staff)



FRISCO



Frisco ISD board of trustees Place 4










Dynette A. Davis




Occupation: educator and entrepreneur


Experience: Founder and CEO of Dymensions Educational Consulting LLC. Developed programs for student success from developmental years through college. Served as a teacher, academic consultant, curriculum developer and university professor in public and private sector.






What did you think of Frisco ISD's response to COVID-19? Do you have any priorities for the position that address COVID-19’s effects on the community?



DD: As a parent of Frisco ISD students across three campuses, I am thankful for the transparency that the district offered regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. As an administrator and business owner, I do realize that is never easy to make decisions that can impact a large number of individuals. I believe that our focus should continue to be on the safety of our students and staff. The decision that Frisco ISD made to allow parents a choice was the best option. Supporting the decision of each parent is what I promote and support during this time. Currently, the district has a system in place that notifies parents on a case by case basis when students and staff test positive. This method keeps everyone informed on the number of positive cases that may affect families. If elected into the position, I would prioritize creating a virtual platform that is equivalent to the face-to-face option. This would make for a smooth transition should the district have to make the difficult decision of returning to remote learning. While returning to a safe school setting is the priority of all, it is important to be prepared for anything.



Why did you decide to run for the Frisco ISD board of trustees?



DD: My name is Dynette A. Davis. My family and I have been Frisco ISD residents since our relocation to Texas in 2012. I decided to run for the Frisco ISD Board of Trustees Place 4 because over the past eight years, I have seen and been a part of the amazing growth and development that has taken place in Frisco ISD. I would like to lend my experience to the board and help make decisions that are inclusive of every family that represents Frisco ISD.


What experience do you think prepares you for serving on the board of trustees?



DD: As an educator, student advocate [for] and mother of Frisco ISD students, I believe that I would be an asset to our current board. I currently have students at Taylor Elementary, [the] Frisco High School Inaugural IB program and Liberty High School. As the Founder and CEO of Dymensions Educational Consulting LLC, I understand the logistic and financial responsibility that it takes to build and maintain an institution of learning. I believe in community partnerships that engage businesses and civic organizations to provide an exceptional learning experience. I am a proponent of mentorship and have developed educational and community-based programs that contribute to the success of students from their developmental years through college. I have served as a teacher, academic consultant, curriculum developer and university professor in both the public and private sector.


How should Frisco ISD accommodate for the rapid growth it is seeing?



DD: Frisco ISD is growing by leaps and bounds, with many families relocating from all over the world. Ensuring that we are equipped to welcome the diverse families should be our top priority.



What is Frisco ISD's biggest challenge, and how would you address it?



DD: We already have the secret sauce for academic progress. Now, it is time to review and update our foundation work while moving #forwardtogether. Frisco ISD is recognized as an exemplary model for education and administration. I will work collaboratively with existing Frisco ISD board members, city officials, businesses, community leaders and other stakeholders to represent the best interest of our students, teachers and administrators. With your vote, I will do my part to help translate the needs of students into progressive policies, goals and strategies that reflect the high standards and values of the communities that we serve.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



DD: Over the past 15 years, I have developed programs that contribute to the success of students from their developmental years through college. I have also served as a teacher, mentor, curriculum developer, teacher leader and university professor for both the private and public school sectors. As the founder and CEO of Dymensions Educational Consulting LLC, I have brought many college readiness programs into our community and provided academic support for students.

My commitment to Frisco ISD is: Family—Education—Community


#forwardtogether #dynetteadavis4fisd

A few of my community activities include:

  • Taylor Elementary PTA Board Membership Chair | 08/2012–06/2014

  • Fowler Middle School PTA Board Programs Chair | 08/2014–06/2016

  • Fowler Middle School PTA Board Membership Chair | 08/2016–06/2018

  • Liberty High School Band Special Events Chair | 2019–2020

  • Texas PTA Honorary Life Membership | May 9, 2019

  • Clean It & Green It Team Leader | 2017, 2018, 2019

  • Collin College Marketing and Entrepreneurship Committee Member | 2017–2019











Muni Janagarajan




Occupation: information technology


Experience: Master’s degree in computer science and over 20 years of IT experience. He said he brings a passionate heart, a logical mind and a listening ear to the table to serve Frisco families.


Contact: 972-900-3404 | www.muniforfisd.com




What did you think of Frisco ISD's response to COVID-19? Do you have any priorities for the position that address COVID-19’s effects on the community?



MJ: Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic had begun in March 2020, the FISD board failed to lead, manage, and decide for our Frisco ISD families. Instead, they simply handed over the decision making authority to the superintendent to lead during this pandemic. Not only did they turn over all authority for decision making, but also spending. For example, the parents of seniors struggled to get the 2020 graduation event scheduled from Frisco ISD administrators. I have advocated for a safe reopening of our Frisco schools for this fall, mainly for our students' social, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Academic achievements are better addressed when students attend in-person classes at school than virtual classrooms from home. Even though the parents were given choices to choose between virtual and ‘in-person’ learning during this 2020-2021 school year, the superintendent made a decision unilaterally to go virtual for the first three weeks and ignored all the votes of the parents who chose ‘in-person’ classes. While every parent has the right to judge and make the best decisions for their families by choosing between in-person or virtual classes, it is the foremost responsibility of our school district administrators to provide both options to every family, with all the safety precautions for in-person classes and better internet connectivity and safe technology for virtual classes. FISD could have done better in communicating their plan to our parents by telling them the details well in advance. There is no transparency on what parents should prepare for. A clear, dual mode execution plan with a solid backup plan, as well as good communication of both are the need of the hour. I hope FISD is well prepared.



Why did you decide to run for the Frisco ISD board of trustees?



MJ: I firmly believe education is a great equalizer. We are fortunate to be blessed with a great school system in Frisco ISD, and I am running to build upon the district’s academic excellence by providing leadership in areas of fiscal discipline, transparency and accountability, safety and security measures and as a strong advocate for teachers’ welfare and growth. I am committed to the enduring success of Frisco ISD. I will bring a fresh voice to our board and will work in the best interests of the taxpayers, teachers, parents and students.



What experience do you think prepares you for serving on the board?



MJ: First and foremost, I have a long, enduring relationship with the city of Frisco that started in January of 2013 when I first moved here from Plano. I have seen Frisco ISD grow in leaps and bounds, and I want to work with the district to see it flourish even more. My daughter is a student at Frisco ISD, and I am eager to give back to the district that is working with and for my child. I actively participate as a volunteer and a community leader. I have served on the board of directors for the Richwoods HOA since 2017. Richwoods is one of the largest gated communities with over 1,600 homes, a budget of $2 million and $1 billion in assets. The safety and well-being of our children is particularly vital to me. I volunteered as a crossing guard at Vandeventer Middle School for 3 1/2 years. Serving on the board will allow me to broaden the scope of my passion to ensure that our children are safe. In addition, I regularly volunteer with various nonprofit organizations. I have organized and volunteered at various fundraising events for Frisco Family Services, Samaritan Inn, Frisco Fastpacs, events for special-needs children and have successfully raised funds in support of these and other organizations.



How should Frisco ISD accommodate for the rapid growth it is seeing?



MJ:While Frisco ISD is still growing, the rate of growth has declined over the past few years. Slower growth has meant that some bonds issued in 2014 for new schools are still unissued. As an example, lower than projected student enrollment growth allowed Frisco ISD to leverage capacity at existing schools and push out the projected opening date of Frisco ISD’s 11th high school from 2019-21. Two additional elementary schools have yet to be built from bonds authorized in 2014. In 2018, voters authorized bonds for High School No. 12, two middle schools and another elementary school. Frisco ISD is well-positioned to accommodate current growth projections. It is essential to maintain a watchful eye on demographic projections to ensure we continue to leverage existing capacity before beginning new construction projects. In order for FISD to stay viable in the future, we need to offer a variety of programs to adequately prepare students for college and career readiness. At Frisco ISD, every student should have access to programs that feed their creativity and energize their ambitions. While we have been blessed with a healthy and growing economy, it’s prudent for the board of trustees to adequately assess risks in the event of enrollment decline or economic downturns. Sustainability in either scenario is an essential element to the continued success of the district.



What is Frisco ISD's biggest challenge, and how would you address it?



MJ: I believe there are three crucial challenges that Frisco ISD faces today:


  • Attracting and Retaining Talented Teachers: So much public debate centers on celebrities, athletes and even politicians serving as role models. In truth, outside of [students'] own homes, some of the biggest role models in a young person’s life are teachers. Teachers are essential to the success of our children, and attracting and retaining good teachers is a key priority. Teacher turnover in Frisco ISD is an area of concern, and I believe we need to do a deep dive into the reasons why turnover has risen and immediately focus our efforts on ensuring we adequately address this issue. This would include seeing to it that effective mentorship programs are in place, prioritizing teacher pay so that it remains competitive, instilling a supportive management environment, studying incentive plans, and providing meaningful leadership pathways.

  • Accuracy in Financial Forecasting and Enhanced Transparency: For the past four years, initial financial forecasting for the general fund has varied significantly from year-end actual revenue and expenditures. In part, this contributed to the premature ask for the tax ratification election in 2018. The increased revenue generated by raising the [maintenance and operations tax] rate to the maximum was unspent, sending nearly $54 million of taxpayer dollars to the district’s fund balance while needlessly dictating the expenditure of over $14 million to the state in recapture costs. If elected, I will push for improvements in the budgeting process by encouraging the use of a districtwide, zero-based budgeting approach; increase oversight to ensure a more thorough analysis of district forecasts; and improve transparency by establishing enhanced visibility of district expenditures related to debt and capital expenditures.

  • Campus Safety and Security: Parents need to feel confident in their child’s safety every time they drop their student off at school. We should continue to proactively train and prepare our children and staff for all types of crises and provide them with the ability to respond appropriately. In addition, I would promote workshops designed to train school staff to identify, interrupt, and intervene when bullying happens. Enhanced processes are needed to establish an environment that matches the district’s stated policy of zero tolerance.





What else do you want voters to know about you?



MJ: I have a master’s degree in computer science and over 20 years of experience as an IT professional. I bring a passionate heart, a logical mind and a listening ear to the table and assure the citizens that they will not regret their decision in appointing me to serve on the board. A vote for me means a vote for a board member who pledges the following:


  • To unequivocally represent every resident, taxpayer, student, parent and teacher of Frisco ISD fairly. If elected, I am prepared to work with fellow school board trustees and FISD administrative staff to find fiscally conservative solutions to our budget and proposed bond projects.

  • To provide ample opportunities to the teachers and students to bring excellence in academics and extracurricular activities.

  • To rise above the status quo and work with district staff and other stakeholders with integrity and honesty.

  • To bring public trust and transparency to all levels of the decision-making process.


I’d be most honored and humbled to have your vote to serve on the Frisco ISD board of trustees Place 4. For more information, please visit my website at www.muniforfisd.com.









Amit Kalra




Occupation: physical therapist and clinical rehabilitation specialist


Experience: Health care professional, Presidential Voluntary Service Award recipient, doctorate student, voluntary service across the globe. Involved in Frisco ISD since 2015 and supports education, teachers and parents.


Contact: 214-817-6222 | www.myamitkalra.com




What did you think of Frisco ISD's response to COVID-19? Do you have any priorities for the position that address COVID-19’s effects on the community?



AK: Frisco ISD has managed the COVID-19 situation according to its available resources. The see-saw response from Texas Education Agency delayed the decision making for all school districts in Texas. Face-to-face and Virtual learning options were made available. It has listened to the teachers and staff and has attempted to accommodate their reservations. They have taken science into consideration for its decision making and have not downplayed the effect of COVID-19 on a person. While the delayed availability of face-to-face instruction initially made some parents upset, it has allowed Frisco ISD to observe other districts and learn from their shortcomings. It is a learning curve for every school district and it is an ongoing process to impart quality education to every child. As a health care professional contesting for the school board position, the current environment has demonstrated why we need one in every school district. Knowledge of the health care domain is an asset and a boon to assist decision making to prepare for events like COVID-19 in regards to education. The effect of COVID-19 is ongoing and we will see its effect even in 2021. The changes in lifestyle, the economic impact on sales tax and property tax, the cost of testing and missed instruction, staff safety and retention, virtual learning enhancement, class size restriction, and testing methods, and decreased funding from the state will be the upcoming challenges for the school district. Addressing these challenges with prudent financial planning, foresight, and community collaboration will be my priorities.



Why did you decide to run for the Frisco ISD board of trustees?



AK: If you don't stand for something, you stand for nothing! I stand for education: education that is inclusive of academics, sports, arts, spiritual, cultural, moral and social facets; an education that promotes knowledge and accountability, both by the providers and stakeholders. Education has been a very important part of my family for decades. My son is a first-grader in Frisco ISD. As a father, I envision a school district that develops erudite character, like a strong wall that withstands the huffs and puffs of the future challenges in life, locally and globally. With the growth of the city of Frisco and its neighboring cities, Frisco ISD is experiencing a major multicultural, multiregional, multinational and multigenerational influence on the existing education system every year. The open seat for Place 4 in the Frisco ISD board of trustees is an excellent opportunity for me to be a voice of this evolving community and contribute towards the betterment of the society straight at the grassroots level. Benjamin Franklin once quoted, “Hide not your talents, they for use were made/What’s a sundial in the shade?”



What experience do you think prepares you for serving on the board?



AK: As a physical therapist, I have served those who have served us—veterans, teachers, professionals and other community members—in Frisco and the DFW Metroplex. I have worked with special-needs children, empathize[d] with their [parents'] emotions and [have been] involved with Frisco ISD since 2015. My fervor towards education is ongoing as I am pursuing a doctorate degree. Having studied in four different countries spread over three continents, I have firsthand experience on multiple learning and examination patterns. I have worked under university leadership that overlooked 65,000 students. I got a grant approved for $400,000 for an MSN program and developed a $200,000-per-year cost-saving tool for a nonprofit hospital. I was a student leader in high school [and a] mentor and university ambassador in college and have built multiple social groups that promote individual interaction, knowledge-sharing and family integration.



How should Frisco ISD accommodate for the rapid growth it is seeing?



AK: Plan for the future by building in the present. The rapid growth for Frisco ISD is a sign of success. Retention and promotion of current teachers and attracting the best teachers to Frisco ISD will lay the foundation for future success. Frisco ISD can accommodate this growth by exhibition of responsible financial expenditure, transparent accountability with stakeholders, judicious development of hard infrastructure and soft infrastructure and auscultate the community. A diversified board of trustees for Frisco ISD will help achieve these goals.



What is Frisco ISD's biggest challenge, and how you would you address it?



AK: A demand for a fair accountability assessment for students is the biggest challenge. Students, athletes, artists, special-needs community [members] and budding entrepreneurs are being strangled by some monotonous standardized testing. I plan to use my dynamic multinational experience in different education systems to assemble, impart and reassess a reliable and valid educational assessment tool.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



AK: I am a recipient of the President's Voluntary Service Award under President George Bush and honors medal in the Masters in Health Administration in 2009 and [as a] high school student leader in 1999. I volunteered in the National Abilympics and International Abilympics for special-needs children. I have multiple awards in extra-curricular activities. My father is a retired diplomat, and [my] mother is a double master's degree-holder and retired Director of National Council for Teacher Education in India. My wife, Archana, is a physical therapist, gold medalist, university professor, double master's degree-holder and a current doctoral candidate. Honesty, gratitude, integrity and loyalty are of prime importance to me. I am a wise spender and enjoy traveling. After moving to Dallas in 2011, Frisco became my home in 2014. I am currently enjoying the City Hall 101.


By Elizabeth Ucles
Elizabeth is the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's Frisco edition. She graduated from St. Edward's University with a degree in Writing and Rhetoric with a journalism concentration and a minor in Spanish in May 2019. Elizabeth covers public and higher education, development and transportation.


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