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Allen Voters Guide 2012: Rona Zafari (Allen ISD Place 3)
From staff reports
The Allen American sent identical questionnaires to this year's Allen ISD Board of Trustees candidates to find out where they stand on the most important issues facing the district. Below is Place 3 candidate Rona Zafari's response.
What do you believe to be the three most important issues currently facing the district?
1) High tax rates and growing debt, 2) unfunded state mandates, and 3) uncertain state funding. These conditions make it very difficult to balance a budget without sharp reductions in spending.
What will you do to address those issues if elected?
The district has already joined a lawsuit over state funding. I suggest curtailing additional debt and reducing non-instructional expenses.
What makes you qualified to perform the duties associated with this position?
My experience as a local business owner and budget coordinator for a major telecom company gives me experience balancing a budget, making tough financial decisions, and establishing spending priorities.
One of the most highly charged issues in the district right now is the controversial 113,000-square-foot service center project. Do you believe the district should continue its plans to construct the facility? Why or why not?
This does not have to be a highly charged issue. I am not against or for the service center. I am more concerned about the debt and spending priorities. I would set the new elementary school as a higher priority, repair and clean up the current service center, and delay a decision on the location and construction of a new service center for 3-5 years.
Last year, the Texas Legislature cut funding to public schools by $5 billion. The successful Tax Ratification Election last year allowed the district to bridge the funding gap created by these cuts. Do you believe this was an adequate solution to the problem?
The TRE is a temporary bridge. Without spending and debt controls, even the TRE will be inadequate to support maintenance, operations and debt service without significant reductions in other areas.
What other solutions do you see for the school funding issue?
There will be no resolution through legislation or litigation for at least the next two budget cycles. With local tax rates among the highest in the state, and no opportunity to raise them higher, I look forward to discussing other revenue opportunities.
Are there any new initiatives, programs or services you will try to implement if you are elected?
I want to explore the use of electronic textbooks and computerized testing as a means of improving instruction and reducing costs.
Why should voters elect you to serve on the AISD Board of Trustees?
I have experience and a perspective that will preserve the educational values that have made AISD a great district. This requires a different view of taxes and spending, and more creativity avenues for generating revenue.