Learn more about the candidates running for Place 4 on the Plano ISD board of trustees ahead of the May 6 election. Early voting is from April 24-May 2. Candidate responses may have been edited for length, style and clarity.

Tarrah Lantz

Experience: Leadership Plano (Class 39); Plano ISD Council of PTAs (president, advocacy chair, secretary); Plano ISD Education Foundation (board member); Plano ISD Future Forward Task Force (Career and Technology Education Subcommittee chair); Plano ISD Teacher of the Year judging panel; Plano ISD District-Based Improvement Committee; Plano ISD Student Health Advisory Committee; Plano ISD Safety & Security Committee; Hickey Elementary PTA (president, treasurer, vice president, silent auction); Bowman Middle PTA (programs chair)

Occupation: Full-time community volunteer

Candidate Website: https://tarrahlantz.com

Contact Information: 972-277-1080. [email protected]

Why are you running?

Advocating for public education and to help each child reach their full potential is my life’s mission. I’m a Plano ISD mom and full-time volunteer leader. I have the experience, relationships and knowledge specific to Plano ISD that prepare me to serve. Experience matters. Ensuring everyone feels their voice is welcomed, heard and valued is critical to our success. I’ve worked to bring our community together by connecting people and fostering dialogue.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

I will continuously advocate to protect public education from the forces intent on sowing distrust and division in our schools. I will address the inequities within school funding practices, increase family engagement to positively increase student success, maintain the excellent caliber of Plano ISD’s teachers and staff, and reduce the stigma around mental health treatment. By improving each of these areas, we help our students become well-rounded and well-grounded members of our community.

What are the top issues facing PISD in the coming years?

Plano ISD is at a crossroads built on a rich history of excellence. Our changing demographics require the district to consider new approaches to reach each child where they’re at in their learning journey. Emerging from the pandemic, it’s critical we address students’ needs to achieve, [and] prioritize retaining and hiring quality staff. We continue to advocate for fixes to Texas’ broken school finance system that unfairly targets Plano ISD with our ballooning recapture payment.

Lydia Ortega

Experience: I bring an economist's problem-solving mindset, e.g., consider the unintended consequences of decisions. With 30 years as professor and department chair I bring experience running a complex academic institution and understanding the challenges students face. I volunteered to serve and was co-founder of several nonprofits, and served on a corporate board. I know that the board has a fiduciary responsibility to the parents and community.

Occupation: Retired professor of economics

Contact Information: 214-414-2010. [email protected]

Why are you running?

COVID[-19] was a serious academic, social and mental setback. We should have had a Code Red response to restore what students lost, but there was none. I decided to give up my retirement plans to spend my time and money to help all students get a great education. I have seen other problem areas: pornography, data collection, student disengagement and politics that did not belong in the classroom. There is work to be done.

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

Restore the primacy of parents. Parents are entitled to view the curriculum, sit in on classes and volunteer, etc. Parents are entitled to transparency and candor at board meetings. To do otherwise implies that there may be something to hide. Ideally, foster a parent-teacher partnership that gives the child the skills, knowledge and confidence to pursue their dreams.

What are the top issues facing PISD in the coming years?

1. Financial—we need to be able to retain excellent teachers; 2. Declining birth rates; 3. Increased competition from other schools; 4. More students with English as a second language. We must focus on excelling in traditional subjects; allow teachers to focus on teaching, and rely on parents to focus on values, socialization and emotional development. The emphasis has to be on excelling, not passing.

Margaret Turner-Carrigan

Experience: PISD volunteer and member of the PTA (Robinson Middle School, Jasper High School and Plano West Senior High School); North Dallas Suburban Foundation (president); Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. (chapter president and Southwest Member of Scholarship and Standards); taught leadership courses, managed budgets and hired staff as assistant attorney general and attorney in private practice; experienced mediator; experienced certified hearing officer trained by the Texas Education Agency

Occupation: Certified hearing officer; retired attorney, mediator and educator

Candidate Website: https://mtc4pisd.com

Contact Information: [email protected]

Why are you running?

Make a difference (board and community); we have become complacent with business as usual; need for nonpartisan leadership; ensure that “all” children in PISD are given the opportunity to receive the best education possible; ensure funds available to our district are used to best benefit the students in the district; ensure state and federal statutes and administrative rules applicable to PISD are properly interpreted, and we lead with facts not emotion

What do you hope to accomplish if elected?

Nonpartisan leadership focused on the students; improve test scores; attract and retain teachers; and responsible budgeting

What are the top issues facing PISD in the coming years?

Declining enrollment; declining funding; test scores; and attracting and retaining teachers