Election Q&A: Candidates for Richardson ISD Single-Member District 1

Richardson ISD board of trustees Single-Member District 1 candidates Tony Casagrande, Vicky Suárez and Megan Timme answered questions about their goals. (Community Impact staff)
Richardson ISD board of trustees Single-Member District 1 candidates Tony Casagrande, Vicky Suárez and Megan Timme answered questions about their goals. (Community Impact staff)

Richardson ISD board of trustees Single-Member District 1 candidates Tony Casagrande, Vicky Suárez and Megan Timme answered questions about their goals. (Community Impact staff)



RICHARDSON



Richardson ISD Single-Member District 1










Tony Casagrande



Occupation: president of Campos Engineering Inc.


Contact: 972-807-8238; [email protected]




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



TC: We are at a critical time in our district's storied history. A large bond has been approved for the election with a promise of no tax increase to the citizens. I am a firm believer in public bonds, as they are a win-win. The district, kids and teachers get great facilities, local businesses get work, and everybody generally wins. This is as long as someone is willing to pay for the bond. Historically, it has to be the citizens through increased taxation. I am uniquely able to help the district navigate this situation and, therefore, want to volunteer.



How has your experience prepared you for board service?



TC: I operate a successful business based off of the principles of fairness, empowerment, teamwork and achieving goals. I am a building engineer (mechanical license) with 20-plus years experience with large bond programs in K-12 across the state. I have participated on volunteer boards and committees in my industry and also served as an officer for back-to-back years in one of the largest in Texas in my industry. Add my business acumen with my technical expertise and proven record, and I am well-prepared to serve the district.



What is your stance on the two Richardson ISD bond measures on the ballot and why?



TC: Somewhat answered above—my official stance is "yes" on both because of the win-win described above. I am concerned we will not be able to actually afford the debt service on the bond without additional revenue. We can't sacrifice the great teachers and programs we have now to pay for the bond. This will result in a win-lose in my opinion and not be in the best long-term interest of the district.



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



TC: The bond and the taxation are the biggest issues facing RISD today. This could be a generational opportunity if done right, paving the way for education for all for many years to come. I will address this issue by being an informed and skilled member of the board to ask the right questions, get tough answers and help all parties be responsible to their commitments.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



TC: My wife, three boys and I live in the Brentfield-Park Hill-JJ Pearce feeder pattern. We are active in sports, supporting our great schools and enjoying our fantastic community.









Vicky Suárez



Occupation: elementary music teacher in Plano ISD


Contact: 214-543-8395; [email protected]




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



VS: I decided to run for the RISD board of trustees because I love Richardson and Richardson ISD, I care about children and the quality of the education they receive in the district, and I am concerned about our teachers in RISD. I am passionate about the importance of excellent public schools, and I would like to give back to the school community that has given my children so much.



How has your experience prepared you for board service?



VS: As a resident of Richardson since 1996, my children have continuously attended RISD schools since 2002. I am connected to this community. I have seen the district grow and change over the years. I taught in RISD from 2010-19: at Dover Elementary for three years, and for six at Prairie Creek Elementary. My children have attended seven RISD schools, and I have been involved in volunteer positions at their schools. I was the Pearce Area Team Leader for the elementary music teachers, working to develop curriculum and supporting the music teachers in those schools. I’ve been a volunteer in some capacity my entire adult life. Giving is important to me. I believe everyone has something to give. For ten years, I volunteered as a La Leche League Leader. I have been the president of the SongWorks Educators Association. I hold officer positions with Alpha Delta Kappa, a teacher organization, and with Sigma Alpha Iota, [an] international music fraternity. The work I have done with these organizations and others has prepared me to give my time and energy to RISD, to listen to the people in our community as they share their concerns about the district. As a teacher, my work is child-centered. If I am elected to the board, my work will be to ensure a quality education for every child in RISD. This quality education starts with outstanding teachers, staff and administrators and rests, as well, on the foundation of fiscal responsibility. I will work to be accountable to our community, to the taxpayers in RISD.



What is your stance on the two Richardson ISD bond measures on the ballot and why?



VS: I support the bond measures. They have gone through a 16-month planning process and are based on the recommendations of the bond steering committee. We must take care of our facilities and make sure they are safe and large enough for the students we serve.



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



VS: One of the biggest issues facing Richardson ISD is attracting and retaining highly qualified teachers. RISD invests in its teachers, and when they decide to go teach somewhere else, some of our investment goes with them. We need to be actively supporting and meeting the needs of our teachers so they want to stay. As a teacher, I will bring the teacher perspective to the board.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



VS: As a mother, I have seen how children flourish when they are provided the quality education they deserve. As a teacher, I know how to listen to the community to hear concerns. As your trustee, I will work to make RISD the very best it can be for our children, our teachers and staff, and for our community. Everyone benefits from outstanding public schools, and I am here to work toward that goal.









Megan Timme



Occupation: director of administrative services at Region 10 Educational Service Center


Contact: 214-207-0020; [email protected]




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



MT: I have lived in the Richardson ISD community my entire life. I am a proud product of RISD myself. I have deep roots and love for this great district. I have been fortunate enough to return to RISD as a teacher and principal. My husband, Matt, and I wanted to raise our children in a community with opportunities for a great education. I could not be more invested in our students and their success. I know that with this past year, taking a look at where students are doing well and where they are struggling will take on an even bigger impact. I know I can be a part of the solution in closing the gaps in our student learning and supporting all students in successful outcomes.



How has your experience prepared you for board service?



MT: I have been a lifelong educator. Working as a teacher and principal in RISD has given me the ability to see our district at multiple levels. Having been at a variety of schools, from small neighborhood schools to large bilingual schools to magnet schools and every economic level, I have listened and learned from each community. The diversity of my experience at the local level has been the basis for my educational knowledge. Additionally, working extensively with the over 80 districts in our region and a large portion of the 1,200 districts statewide has helped me see leadership styles and the impact of policy and practice on a district's success. I have learned so much from working with the legislative process and the interpretations of legislation by the Texas Education Agency. Having local-, regional- and state-level experience is an invaluable skill set as we work to support important outcomes for our students in RISD.



What is your stance on the two Richardson ISD bond measures on the ballot and why?



MT: From a big-picture perspective, I know the district has invested a lot of time with stakeholders and elicited feedback in examining the needs of our students. The process started with a comprehensive facilities study and ended with a long-range plan. Addressing our aging facilities and growth is clearly a need. With the legislative initiative of pre-K and the district's commitment to pre-K for all, moving this bond forward is necessary for the current and potential overcrowding. The district-level supports for content and technology upgrades, I believe, are also needed. One of the things I think is the most important thing to come out of this bond is that it will not cause a tax increase for our taxpayers while addressing upgrades for our district.



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



MT: Student success is the most important outcome in our district. We need all of our students to be college-, career- or military-ready as they graduate from RISD. Continuing to grow robust academic programs must be a focus. I believe that our district, like all of the districts across the state, will have to overcome the pandemic learning loss. With great leadership, our district can continue the charge to be that No. 1 district in the state academically. One of the most important ways to reach that academic success is to recruit the best educators, to provide them with the best training and to retain those teachers in RISD. Unequivocally, I believe that this is one of the most important tasks in RISD. When you have the best, you will get results. Dr. Stone and her team have really made great strides in creating a positive and supportive workplace. As your trustee, I want to help continue that momentum forward to make sure our students have the most effective teachers in our classrooms. As a district, it is critical that we are good financial stewards. Spending wisely to support our district goals must always be a top priority. Working with our stakeholders, sound data and feedback are all a huge part of the process. Ensuring financial transparency and building trust in our community in those financial decisions helps to solidify that our outcomes benefit all of our students.



What else do you want voters to know about you?



MT: My husband and I love this district. My dad, Jerry Bishop, and my mom, Marny Bishop, spent their entire educational careers in RISD. ... I know that with my knowledge and experience, I can continue the strong leadership we need to overcome challenges and ensure that RISD remains a destination district.


By William C. Wadsack

Editor, Plano

William joined Community Impact Newspaper in December 2019. He previously served as managing editor of several daily and weekly publications in North Texas and his native state of Louisiana.