LISD election: Voters choose incumbents for another term, approve bond proposal
May 15, 2017
District voters decided to keep Kristi Hassett and Tracy Scott Miller as trustees on the Lewisville ISD school board and approved the $737.5 million bond proposal.
Hassett won with 67.69 percent of the vote for Place 6. Miller received 54.35 percent of the vote for Place 7. Out of 14,810 total votes, the bond proposal got 62.43 percent of votes for it.
The district’s bond proposal — which would fund more than 30 projects to refurbish, build and supplement schools and other facilities in the district — was approved despite efforts by opposing groups.
“We are glad to see that this bond election turn out is double what it was in 2008. Clearly more people were aware and voted and we thank you for that,” Facebook page Safe Classrooms Small Classrooms posted following results. “Personally we are sad to see the bond pass as we felt our school board owed us a better bond.”
Many of those who led the opposition want to see Hedrick Elementary rebuilt after both it and the neighboring middle school are torn down in accordance with the Facility Advisory Committee’s recommendation. Only Hedrick Middle School’s rebuild is on the list of projects the bond would go towards.
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PACs form for, against LISD bond package
March 25, 2017
Two political action committees have taken shape around the upcoming Lewisville ISD bond package vote. One is for the bond, one is against it, and both are chaired by members of the facilities advisory committee, which put the package together in the first place.
The $737.5 million bond package, which will go to a public vote May 6, is the product of months of work by the committee, comprised of 89 residents from all walks of life across the district. Hedrick Elementary would be torn down under the package, and the district has faced significant criticism from Hedrick parents and alumni who want the school to be rebuilt. Multiple members of the board of trustees listed not wanting to contradict the FAC’s decision as a reason why they put the package up for a vote in spite of the controversy.
Now, committee member and outspoken Hedrick supporter Shannon Richardson serves as the chairperson of Lewisville Citizens Acting for Responsible Education Spending, or Lewisville CARES, a PAC collecting money to urge district residents to vote against the bond. Fellow FAC member Cathy Turner serves as co-chair of an opposing PAC with Flower Mound lawyer Chuck Elsey.
The district launched its own informational website on the bond package, lewisvilleisdbonds.com, this week. The district cannot legally advocate for or against the bond. The district sent out three mailers over the past month, at least one of which executive communications director Amanda Brim said cost almost $10,000 to send.
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LISD spent more than $57,000 for PR mailers
April 6, 2017
Lewisville ISD told a citizen that they do not have purchase orders for the three informational mailers that were sent out from mid-February through mid-March.
The school district sent out three informational postcards to residents. A reader contacted The Lewisville Texan Journal concerned about how much the mailers cost and said she had asked the district on March 1 for clarification on who was responsible for them and how much they cost. Executive communications director Amanda Brim confirmed to the reader on March 8 that she was responsible and on March 9 that one of them, featuring Flower Mound High School English teacher Angie Greenlaw, had cost $9,866 to print, post and send.
The reader questioned the district further on March 20, asking for the purchase orders of the mailers, as well as who was involved in making decisions on them, how many more mailers are scheduled for the school year and how many mailers LISD had sent out in the past three years. Brim said some of those requests fell under public information law.
Yesterday, April 5, legal services coordinator Leah Wingerson said that after a thorough search of records, LISD has no documents responsive to the reader’s request. This would mean the district does not have documentation of the authorization for the purchase of mailers from less than two months ago, one of which cost almost $10,000.
Update 4/11– After clarifying with the district, the final number for the mailers is $57,054.25. The district only sent out two mailers featuring teachers, and the previously reported $9,866.22 for the mailer featuring a Flower Mound High School teacher was just an estimate, with the final number coming in at $7,169.51.
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LISD, PAC say they did not collaborate on bond election
May 20, 2017
State law prohibits political subdivisions, such as LISD, from producing or contributing to political advertisements they are connected to. However, both the Vote Yes Lewisville ISD PAC in their campaign to get the bond passed and LISD with their informational website on the bond left everything up to their contracted media groups, which worked together.
Becky Cowan and the Caelen Media Group had a pre–existing contract with LISD that included producing the controversial informational mailers that were sent out between February and April and the district’s website. However, both that website and the Vote Yes website were registered to the same Brian Mayes of the Mayes Media Group. The Mayes group handled almost everything for the Vote Yes PAC, campaign documents show. When this was pointed out in Facebook comments, both websites were quickly changed to private registrations.
The Mayes Media Group lists a phone number online, but the man who picked up said it was a wrong number. They also list an address, but the person who answered the door said to direct all questions to LISD or Vote Yes co–chair Chuck Elsey.
According to their financial reports available publicly on the Texas Ethics Commission website, the PAC’s expenditures include only some Deluxe checks in March and a total of $14,676.75 to the Mayes Media Group for consulting, printing, design and advertising. The PAC had large yard signs that were not itemized on any expenses.
Elsey said that some members of the PAC were already familiar with the Mayes group from its work with the district and on the Texas Rangers’ new stadium in Arlington, which was similarly an issue of getting citizens to vote to spend money. The Caelen Group also contributed on promoting the stadium.
Additionally, a preliminary budget document obtained by The Lewisville Texan Journal shows an estimated $38,700 set aside for items that appeared to be campaign-related, including developing a support logo, developing a pro–Lewisville ISD website, launching a Facebook page with advertisements, yard sign materials, pop–up banners for schools, an informative pamphlet about a support and advocacy group and a series of visuals for emails and digital outreach.
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