School Board candidates prepare for election day

School board elections will be held May 1 for Place 1 and 2. Candidates running for Place 1 include Buddy Bonner and Paige Dixon, while those running for Place 2 include Sheila Taylor and incumbent Allison Lassahn. Community members can cast their vote at public polling places such as the Carrollton Public Library. 

In an effort to better educate first-time voters, “The Hawk Eye” reached out to each candidate to share insight on their platform, though not all were able to do so. 

Photo via Sheila Taylor

Sheila Taylor is a veteran, Certified Public Accountant and entrepreneur who has served on several boards in the community and worked closely with the Susan G. Koman foundation. Taylor is running for Place 2 against incumbent Allison Lassahn.

Taylor said her inspiration for running for Place 2 came from her concern as a parent for the amount of low-rated schools in Lewisville, as well as her love and admiration for teachers. 

“I am a three-time breast cancer survivor, my first battle was in 2005, right after I had lost my mother-in-law to breast cancer the year before,” Taylor said. “My mother-in-law was a special education teacher’s aid, so that’s another reason I am so fond of teachers, as well as not having parents growing up. I am very fond of teachers because they were surrogate parents to me.”

One point of Taylor’s platform that she hopes to emphasize is the importance of mental health resources for students and educators. She would like to extend Red Ribbon Week, increase kindness programs and anti-bullying efforts.

“I’d like to see increased training for our counselors, as well as our teachers,” Taylor said. “I want to work on creating a safe space for students so they don’t feel judged, they feel comfortable sharing issues that they might need help with. I’d also like to see an increase in the number of intervention specialists that we have for areas like substance abuse.”

Taylor said she also hopes to promote diversity on the board to present students with a more accurate depiction of the world around them. She also wants to see curriculum that is more inclusive of cultural diversity and celebration throughout the district. 

“As a woman of color and a woman from Lewisville, we don’t have any of that on the board and I think it’s important for our students to see that diversity because we live in a diverse world,” Taylor said.

Taylor hopes students will understand the board’s responsibility to aid in their success and feel more comfortable making their voices heard.

“Change, real change happens at the local level,” Taylor said. “Call a board member and talk about what your issues are and what you need. Get involved in the process as you or your parents are voting. Make sure you are listening to what the candidates are saying and you look at their resumes and their histories.”

Photo via Allison Lassahn

Allison Lassahn is an incumbent candidate running for Place 2 on the board with three years of experience. Lassahn has had 120 hours of school board training and has served on three different district committees, including the District Leadership Team.

“I think it’s really important for everybody to [vote] and I think that if you start young, it will become a habit that you always do,” Lassahn said. “Especially in these municipal elections, the voter turnout is really low and sometimes these elections are really close. It’s super important, not only for you to get out and vote, but for you to be informed about who you are voting for.”

Lassahn said her time on the board spent working to solidify the budget based on the allocation of tax dollars will be helpful in furthering the economic stability of the district. 

“Everything goes back to money,” Lassahn said. “I’ve had years now working with the budget and being able to understand school finance; it’s super complicated and not like anything else.”

Lassahn has served as the board secretary since 2019 after being elected in May 2018. Prior to her time on the board, she served as a PTA board member at four different LISD schools.

“I love working with Dr. Rodgers and the leadership team, it’s been so unique to be able to serve and I feel like I am really making a difference in the district,” Lassahn said. “I have two boys that go to school here and I have relationships with many teachers throughout the district. I’m proud of our district and I want to make sure that we maintain that greatness. Of course there is always room for improvement and there are always things we can do and I want to make sure that we continue [improving].”

Photo via Paige Dixon

Paige Dixon is a former PTA president, veteran and single mother of two students attending title one schools in LISD. Dixon is currently running for Place 1 against opponent Buddy Bonner.

“When you’re voting in local races, you’re voting for the person that’s going to fix the streetlights and the potholes, the person that’s going to govern over the schools that your children go to,” Dixon said. “These are the people who really affect your day to day life.”

Dixon said she is an advocate for students in under-represented groups who may be falling behind or under served. Dixon hopes to better represent low income students and help provide more accessible resources to aid in their success.

“When we are looking at district scores and seeing that some demographics are underperforming, that brings down our score as an entire district,” Dixon said. “It’s important for me to make people understand that behind the data, are actual children who have dreams and goals and can aspire to be anything. We want to make sure we are closing that gap and that working class families are included in how we structure programs, communities and dissemination of information.”

Dixon said she would like to amplify the voices of people who may not have the opportunity to speak or to be heard. One proposed solution to better represent students in the district is creating a committee at each high school that would meet regularly with the board to discuss any concerns.

“We did a town hall with the Students for Educational Equality and one of the things they mentioned was starting a coalition at each high school to communicate with the board and talk with the associations for teachers,” Dixon said. “When we communicate with one another, we get a broad picture of the district, and that helps us to create healthy and inclusive policies that work and are effective for everybody.”

Dixon said that while many high school students may not be able to vote, she still would like them to use their voice and advocate for change because the board seeks to serve students. 

“The people sitting on that board have a lot of influence over the opportunities that are offered within the district, courses, classes, schools, that can directly affect their future,” Dixon said. “I would like [young voters] to be more cognizant of local elections, I would like for them to organize and have asks. Even if you can’t vote, you should hold the board accountable for their job because ultimately it affects you and your future.”

Disclaimer: Attempts to set up an interview with Dr. Buddy Bonner, running for Place 1, were unsuccessful.

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