Election Q&A: Candidates for Plano ISD Place 2

Ahead of the May election, meet the three candidates running to serve as Plano ISD Place 2 trustee. (Community Impact staff)
Ahead of the May election, meet the three candidates running to serve as Plano ISD Place 2 trustee. (Community Impact staff)

Ahead of the May election, meet the three candidates running to serve as Plano ISD Place 2 trustee. (Community Impact staff)

Learn more about the candidates running for Plano ISD's Place 2 board of trustees seat ahead of the May 1 election.

Editor’s note: An asterisk (*) indicates the candidate is an incumbent. Candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name.


PLANO



Plano ISD Place 2










Ajikwaga Felli



Occupation: Dentist-Wellpath/co-owner of Cuddly Smiles Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics


Contact: 917-803-5827; mabfelli@gmail.com




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



AF: The main driving factor was the vacant slots in two places during the first couple of weeks of filing. I have a child in the school district and will have children in it for a long time. The board plays a key role in shaping the school district and I thought I could contribute positively to its growth. My background in public health and international exposure can also potentially add to the diversity and overall strength of the board.



How has your experience prepared you for board service?



AF: Parent—seeking the best educational experience for the children in the school district. Healthcare Professional—work with children from diverse backgrounds and learn that health is vital to the success of our children. Professor/Teaching Assistant—whether tutoring college students or mentoring dental students you realize there is the need for evolution and innovation to adapt to change. Volunteer—whether it is with our local elementary school or church youth group one realizes that it takes a community to raise and plan for our children’s future.



What changes, if any, do you think should be made to the state's recapture system that redistributes tax revenue from property-wealthy school districts to those with lower property values and why?



AF: The issue is a complex one that needs a balanced approach. Now while I am not an advocate of being forced to give away revenue to the detriment of our school district; I believe it is our duty to render aid to our neighbors in need, while also actively seeking ways to resolve the root problem.



What do you think are the biggest issues facing Plano ISD today, and how do you plan to address them if elected?



AF: Plano ISD, like any other school districts, has both unique and common issues. The present issue is making the necessary changes and adopting technologies to prevent disruption of education, and at the same time keeping the community safe. One of my goals is to work with experts and stakeholders to achieve the best possible solutions for Plano ISD.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



AF: I am a person of faith and believe we are more than just physical beings. I am married to a wonderful and supportive wife, and we have two amazing kids. I have been a practicing dentist for over a decade and my wife and I are soon to be business owners. I love people and I am committed to public health. If elected I shall do everything in my power to preserve the integrity of the school district, serve the needs of our children and community, and work on issues that need improvement.









Dayna Oscherwitz



Occupation: Professor of francophone studies and assistant provost for general education at SMU


Contact: 214-768-2210; dayna@daynaforplano.com




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



DO: I am the first person in my family to go to college, and I am entirely the product of public education, from kindergarten through graduate school. For that reason, I am a strong believer in the value of excellent public schools, and, I think, a testament to the potential that a strong public education can unlock. ... I decided to run for the Plano ISD board, because I thought the board could potentially benefit from someone with knowledge and experience in education, someone who can see things from the point of view of a parent and the point of view of an educator, someone who has worked directly on issues such as equity in education, faculty recruitment and retention, and student recruitment and retention, and someone who has experience in educational financial management. ...



How has your experience prepared you for board service?



DO: I have devoted my life to education. It is my first and only calling, and I have nearly thirty years combined experience in education and educational administration. I am a certified teacher in the state of Texas. ... I will note that, although I am currently in a full-time administrative role, with no formal teaching responsibilities, I have continued to teach, because I believe it is important. I have a high level of commitment to education, and I always do my utmost to support both teachers and learners and to find creative solutions to allow both groups to realize their full potential. ... I think my ability to empathize with diverse stakeholders would bring a unique point of view to the Plano ISD board.



What changes, if any, do you think should be made to the state's recapture system that redistributes tax revenue from property-wealthy school districts to those with lower property values and why?



DO: The Texas educational recapture or the “Robin Hood” system of school funding was proposed to Texans as a means of ensuring equity in Texas education through centralized redistribution of locally gathered property taxes. Equity in education is something I care a great deal about. ... In fact, we know that the strength of the local public schools is an important consideration both for business looking to relocate to Texas, and Plano specifically, to homeowners when deciding where to buy, and to parents who may be weighing a choice between public and private schools. Plano ISD plays an important role, in that regard. That said, I think it should be apparent to anyone who has been paying attention that the current funding model for Texas public schools has not produced equity in education, and it just isn’t working in the way it was intended. We have not achieved educational equity, and districts like Plano ISD find themselves with property owners who pay more and more in taxes, while their district has a shrinking budget, and it has only been the creativity of the district and the board that has averted significant problems. ... In short, more needs to be done to find a better plan that works better for all districts, including Plano ISD. However, such reform will not be immediate. In the interim, we need to continue to find creative ways to manage the resources in Plano ISD such that teachers have the materials they need to deliver a world-class education, and students have the tools and support they need to excel.



What do you think are the biggest issues facing Plano ISD today, and how do you plan to address them if elected?



DO: Plano ISD is an excellent school district. That said, it, like many other districts, faces a number of challenges. ... Education, today, is in many ways, more complex than it has ever been, but with knowledge, determination, and ingenuity, Plano ISD has managed to lead and can continue to be a leader in educational excellence, and I pledge to do my utmost, if elected, to continue on that path.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



DO: One of the most important things to know about me is that I am a passionate advocate for arts and humanities education and for international education. ... I can say that I work tirelessly to make sure that anything I am involved in is done to the highest standards possible. One other really-important thing to know about me is that I am the proud mother of two children, one of whom is a junior in college (studying to be a journalist) and one of whom, who loves animals, people, and volleyball, will be attending high school next year.









Angela Powell*



Occupation: CEO at Powell Advantage


Contact: 214-228-3059; angela@angelapowellforplano.com




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



AP: Four years ago, when I ran the first time, I was motivated by my passion to advocate for our special needs population in Plano. I was a good listener for our parents and wanted to serve our community by advocating more services for our students. So, I ran for PISD Board of Trustee Place 2 in 2017. I was elected in May of 2017 and was honored with the opportunity to impact our district when we needed a strategic plan to support our quality public education. I have served as a Plano Independent School District Parent Teacher Association Board Member at Isaacs Early childhood School (which was Barron Early Childhood School), Hickey Elementary School, Murphy Middle School and Williams High School. My years of volunteerism on PISD PTA Boards motivated me to do more for our students and community. I am running again for my second term because I am committed to the safety and success of all our students. The pandemic has caused so much disruption to our community. Our administration, staff, teachers, parents, and students were affected in different ways, but we all came together to work through this COVID-19 crisis.



How has your experience prepared you for board service?



AP: IFrom serving as a PISD school board trustee, Place 2 since 2017, I have the most current information and experience to continue helping our students, parents, teachers, and staff. I understand the complexities of school board governances, the financial issues associated with our district’s operating budgets, school safety protocols, and educational advocacy. I was a teacher for several years and have been dedicated to our community. Also, by serving in different organizations and leadership roles, I believe my passion in volunteerism shows my skills and sensitive nature of loving my community.

Leadership Roles:

• Board liaison for PISD Education Foundation 2019

• Board liaison for Junior League of Collin County 2019-2021


• Board liaison for Tech Titans (The Technology Association of North TX) 2019

• Board liaison for the North Texas Commission 2019

• Board liaison for Realtor’s Group 2017 & 2018

• Board liaison for the city of Murphy 2018

• Board liaison for the city of Parker 2018

• Board liaison for the Plano Homeowners Association 2017

• Board liaison for the PISD Council of PTA’s 2020-2021

• Board liaison for PISD Head Start 2020-2021

• HOA Board Member 2020-2021

• Texas Health Resources, Community Impact Collin County Leadership Council 2018-2020

• Transition and Career Fair, Williams High School, Philanthropy Chair, 2016-2019

• Vice President, Texas Business Women of Dallas Metro North, 2016-2018

• St. Joseph Catholic School Advisory Council, 2015-2018

• St. Joseph Catholic Church/School Moms Group President, 2016-2017.



What changes, if any, do you think should be made to the state's recapture system that redistributes tax revenue from property-wealthy school districts to those with lower property values and why?



AP: The rising cost of the state’s recapture system to Plano ISD goes to the state budget and not to the school district’s funding such as growing operational expenses due to inflation. Plano ISD’s recapture (Robin Hood) payments to Texas Education Agency were increased from $160.1 million for FY 2020 to $178.8 million in FY 2021. Plano ISD is a “Chapter 41” district and has contributed more than $1.6 billion to the state. Modifications to the state’s recapture system needs to be addressed further in this upcoming legislative session to lower Plano ISD’s recapture payments.



What do you think are the biggest issues facing Plano ISD today, and how do you plan to address them if elected?



AP: Since I have been elected in 2017, our biggest issues have been mental health and school safety because of the pandemic. I helped with the origination of our PlanoUp program to support our students with more wrap around services. School funding has also been a big concern. I am committed to continuing my efforts to advocate for our students and parents. And I plan to continue advocating for public school finance to increase funding to support school districts provided by House Bill 3.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



AP: I am a proud mother of three children. My eldest son graduated last year from Plano East Senior High School during the pandemic. My middle child is currently a senior at Plano East. My daughter is enrolled at the IB School for Fall 2021. My husband and I met in college and we got married in the DFW area. My family moved to Plano over 15 years ago and I have been an active member of the community ever since.


By William C. Wadsack
William C. Wadsack is the senior reporter for the Plano and Richardson editions of Community Impact Newspaper. He previously served as managing editor of several daily and weekly publications in North Texas and his native state of Louisiana before joining Community Impact Newspaper in 2019.


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