Friday, April 24, 2015

Plano Independent School District Voting Starts April 27th

A strong public school system is not only good for our children, it also promotes business growth and keeps our residential property values strong. Early Voting for the May 9, 2015 election starts on Monday, April 27th.

Geographical school districts in Texas are completely independent from city or county jurisdiction, and are governed by a board of trustees.  Texas school district boundaries are not always aligned with county or city boundaries; a district can occupy several counties and cities, while a single city (especially larger ones such as Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio) may be split between several districts. Almost all Texas school districts use the title "Independent School District", or ISD. 

Plano's public school system is among the largest in Texas and is nationally rated as one of the best school systems in the nation. The quality of Plano schools is among the major factors convincing companies like Toyota to locate their national corporate headquarters to Plano.

Toyota is building a corporate campus in the Legacy West area that will bring an estimated 9,000 young professionals to Plano, plus their spouses and children. Insurance giant Liberty Mutual announced in April it also plans to consolidate corporate operations at a campus in Plano's Legacy West business park in late 2017 with two office towers and 5,000 employees. FedEx and other companies have also recently announced plans to consolidate and expand corporate operations in Plano's Legacy West.

Plano ISD covers approximately 100 square miles in southwest Collin County, includes nearly 200,000 registered voters. This area includes 66 square miles in the City of Plano, with the balance including northern portions of the cities of Dallas and Richardson and parts of the cities of Allen, Carrollton, Garland, Lucas, Murphy, Parker and Wylie. The Plano school district employs 6,783 teachers and support staff to provide nearly 55,000 students with a quality education.

Voters who live within the Plano Independent School District will find three ballot positions for school board trustees:
  • Plano ISD Place 4
    1. Sharon Hirsch -
    2. Michael Friedman
    3. Yoram Solomon
  • Plano ISD Place 5
    1. David Stolle
  • Plano ISD Place 7
    1. Missy Bender
    2. Paul P. Kaminsky
Information about these candidates can be found at the League of Women Voters of Collin County website:
May 9, 2015 Election - Early Voting Dates
  • April 27-29: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • April 30: 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • May 1-2: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • May 4-5: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sharon Hirsch has been a resident of Plano and member of the PISD community since moving to Texas in 1996. Ms. Hirsch has experience working with Plano ISD as a mother supporting her four children in their education, and supporting her husband in his career in public education. Ms. Hirsch served on the administrative support team for 12 years as Office Manager for PISD elementary, middle and high school campuses and in the Special Education Services Department.  Five years ago Ms. Hirsch again became a student, herself, earning a Associates degree from Collin College in 2012 and a Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences from the University of North Texas in 2014, graduating summa cum laude from both. Ms. Hirsch is now ready step up from a PISD supporting role to a leadership role as a PISD Board Trustee.
Some of Ms. Hirsch accomplishments include:
  • Established and fund the Hirsch AVID Scholarship, providing first year tuition and textbooks for a deserving PISD AVID graduate to attend Collin College
  • Served on the School Based Improvement Committee (SBIC) at Rice Middle School as a community representative
  • Served on the School Health Advisory Council (SHAC) for three years
  • Named Outstanding Bachelor of Applied Arts and Sciences Student at UNT in 2013-14
  • Active volunteer with parent groups, booster clubs, and after-school activities
  • Twice nominated for the Superintendent’s Service Award
  • Awarded Texas PTA Honorary Life Memberships from both Rice Middle School and McMillen High School
  • Faculty liaison to the PTSA at McMillen High School
  • Graduate of the Plano Citizens Government Academy
  • Commissioner on the City of Plano Cultural Affairs Commission
  • Election clerk
  • Appointed to the Collin County Ballot Board during the November 2014 election
The education professionals like Sharon Hirsch know the amount of resources that is required to provide our children with a high quality education. The Texas State Legislature enacted substantial school budget reductions in 2011, which increased Teacher / student ratio class sizes, as teachers were laid off.  Funding to provide ongoing training for teachers and principals, who weren't fired due to state budget cuts, was reduced, and supply budgets were slashed at all campuses and central office departments.

Even with the recently passed tax rate election (TRE), spending in Plano ISD on a per pupil basis has not returned to the level of five years ago. Ms. Hirsch supports investing in our students’ learning experiences and understands PISD's student investment needs to secure a funding level that ensures steady student progress.

Ms. Hirsch opposes pubic school privatization vouchers and other policies that divert funding from public schools

Vouchers funnel much-needed resources away from public schools and don’t address the underlying problems in ynderperforming schools, i.e. poverty, inadequate housing, food insecurity, lack of supervision, and lack of healthcare. Vouchers will primarily assist families who already send their students to private school and can afford the difference between the voucher and the private school tuition. Plano ISD has offered families choices in programming within the current public school system.

Ms. Hirsch supports restoring local control to the School Board governance level prior to 2006 legislation that restricted setting the school calendar and local tax rate

In 2006, the Legislature passed and Gov. Rick Perry signed a tax overhaul that was intended to reduce property taxes paid to school districts. For one, the cut applied only to school taxes, which means that all the other property taxes paid by Texans – including those going to cities and counties – were unaffected.** School Boards could no longer have flexibility in setting their local tax rate, while cities and counties retained that local governance function.  Also in 2006, the legislature removed the waiver option for School Boards to determine a local start date for school. This results in uneven days in semesters affecting course content, pacing, and even assessment options. It’s time for the state to return control of decisions affecting our students and families back to the locally elected School Board.

Plano city and school board elections in Collin County, Texas, typically have turnouts of under ten percent, and even five percent or less of registered voters - as low as two to three percent of mostly older and senior citizens vote.

Turnout for the 2013 Plano City and Plano ISD Election topped 10 percent only because a special local option was added to the City of Plano ballot for residents to vote for or against allowing local stores to sell hard liquor. The ballot measure passed with 66 percent of the vote on double to triple the normal city election turnout count.

Parents of students who attend Plano elementary schools and middle and senior high schools large do not turnout to vote their children's interests. For the last three Plano ISD elections in 2010, 2011, and 2013, the average age of voters was 60, as the graph shows.

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