Hello Collin County,
In case you forgot amidst everything else that happened to our community these past couple weeks, we had an election. We didn’t just have an election. We had THE election that may be the start of this county flipping in our favor.
We had major victories all across the county. Down here in Richardson, every candidate recommended by the local democratic club won. We successfully flipped the city council with the election of Dan Barrios! I am very hopeful and excited about what we can accomplish in the next two years. The Richardson ISD elections also went in our favor.
In Plano, all but one candidate recommended by the local democratic club won their election. Plano ISD saw massive wins! We were able to elect Michael Cook, Tarrah Lantz, and Katherine Chan Goodwin over the radical conservative candidates. We now have the votes in Plano ISD with only one conservative left on the board.
Allen also saw both city council and ISD elections go in favor of common-sense governance over right-wing extremism.
Frisco and McKinney experienced much the same, re-electing and electing candidates who were opposed by radical conservatives. One of the most exciting wins for all of Collin County was Megan Wallace’s victory in her Collin College board race!
We also have two Collin College candidates heading to a runoff, Scott Coleman and Dr. Stacey Donald. That means we are not done yet. Early voting for this runoff election will be May 30 – Jun 3, 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM and June 5 – 6, 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM. Voting Day for this runoff is Saturday, June 10, 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM.
We need everyone to get back out to the polls at the end of the month to make sure we flip the Collin College board! Thank you to everyone who voted and made these victories possible! And a big thank you to everyone who has been calling our legislators down in Austin. For the most part, Republicans don’t appear to be interested in representing what the people want, but we will have the opportunity to do something about it with next year’s elections.
Below I’ve included some of the latest news from our cities and school boards. We still need volunteers to watch meetings and write reports. It’s as easy as it sounds, and you can do it from the comfort of your own bed.
For legislative updates, we are entering the last few weeks of the legislative session. The timeframe for activity on bills is now hours and days instead of weeks. This Republican legislature is doing everything they can to push bills through without our input. For your legislative updates, please follow Equality Texas and Raise Your Hand Texas for updates on bills that affect public education and the LGTBQIA+ community. Links below: https://secure.everyaction.com/KR74XUWtBUix8clQ9S5NdA2
Plano City Council
At their April 24 meeting, the Plano city council swore in new Planning & Zoning commissioner, Bill Lisle. Several residents also spoke up about various issues, including one who applauded the city’s recent decision to place a temporary ban on short-term rentals. The city also approved a significant $4.6 million project to replace water lines from Parker Rd to Independence Pkwy.
At their May 2 meeting, Plano was named in the NAMM Foundation’s Best Communities for Music Education for the 23rd consecutive year. Four new elementary school principals and one new middle school principal were introduced for Beverly ES, Barron ES, Boggess ES, Daffron ES, and Murphy MS. The 2023/24 Employee Compensation Report was also presented. The report proposes a straight 3% raise for all employees, a $60k starting salary for teachers, and raising the minimum wages for support staff to $15/hr. This will have a roughly $10 million impact on the district budget. Several bills were discussed as part of the district’s legislative agenda.
HB3 received the most discussion. This bill would require armed officers on each campus, including elementary schools. The district would have to pay roughly $4 million to have officers on elementary campuses this Fall. While the bill received general support, several board members also raised concerns about the quick turnaround time for training and finding officers to staff the positions. During the public comments section at the end of the meeting, some misinformed citizens spoke against DEI, the LGBTQIA+ Community, and “pornography” in the libraries. I am so glad we now have a Plano ISD school board that can set an example for inclusive governance.
McKinney City Council
At their May 2 meeting, The McKinney City Council appears to have listened to McKinney Democrats Julie Luton and Liz Michel. One of the new goals for the next fiscal year will be to implement enhanced metrics to support improved diversity, geographical representation, and professional background experience in the city’s boards and commissions appointment process.
Former Asst. Fire Chief Paul Dow was officially appointed to the position of fire chief. A new program was also approved that will connect the municipal court with the state’s Failure to Appear Program. This is a program that blocks a person from removing a suspension on their license if they fail to respond to municipal court notices or fines for traffic and nontraffic offenses. Councilman Beller argued that this could turn into a “Failure to Pay” program. Only Council members Beller and Feltus voted against the program. The city council also unanimously approved waiving the $600k Roadway Impact Fee for Sphinx Development’s workforce housing development at 1101 N Throckmorton. Seems to me the City of McKinney could’ve certainly used that money to improve the roadways impacted by the additional traffic.
At their April 25 meeting, the public comments section was packed with residents and students. Some students expressed their disappointment with the removal of certain course options such as Latin and Computer Science. Some residents, parents, and teachers expressed their support for the board and expressed disappointment in accusations that teachers are grooming children. Others, perhaps motivated by groups like Citizens Defending Freedom, made outrageous claims about the district’s inclusion efforts, even claiming that the board is praised by Satan worshippers for having “porn” in the libraries. Those same people also criticized the district’s recognition of different gender identities. I am so tired of hearing the same nonsense from these same people week after week. We want sensible governance that includes and protects everyone. Marginalization hurts kids.
Later in the meeting, it was revealed that Trustee Chad Green did not attend the National School Board Association (NSBA) Conference, even though he was given an $850 stipend from the board to attend. Trustee Green cited a death in the family as a reason for not attending the conference. Another trustee discovered on Facebook that Trustee Green actually attended another event at the same time. The board officially requested Trustee Green to return the $850 stipend. Trustee Green stated he would consider it. It doesn’t sound to me like Trustee Green is even fulfilling his duties as a board member. Obviously, we will unseat him in 2025. But, should we even let it get that far if he isn’t performing his duties? If there’s anyone who deserves a recall in McKinney, it’s Chad Green.
At their May 8 meeting, the legislative agenda for the district was discussed heavily. Several bills were discussed that will have an impact on the district’s budget and operations. HB 100 would immediately increase the basic per-student allotment by a teeny tiny amount that doesn’t come close to keeping up with the current year’s inflation rate. More importantly, it would require districts to prioritize teacher raises and provide additional allotments for fine arts and special education.
SB 9 would authorize a one-time teacher retention allotment. The amount of that allotment is $2k for districts with more than 20,000 students enrolled, but it is $6k for districts with less than 20,000 students. The district reports that inflation is up 17% from 2019 to 2023.
HB1, the state’s budget for the next two years, only provides an additional $5 billion for public education. Three times as much money is needed to keep up with inflation. Several bills aim to increase the student safety allotment to as much as $100 per student and $15k per campus.
Some of these bills will also require additional armed officers and silent alert technology. During the public comments portion of the meeting, multiple speakers thanked voters for voting against extremism in the recent school board election. They also spoke about the dangers of replacing school counselors with chaplains and requiring the Ten Commandments be posted in classrooms. Some residents spoke about a candidate forum held at a church where Trustee Marvin Lowe stated that separation between church and state doesn’t exist. At that same forum, a Frisco ISD parent stated that learning disabilities, ADHD, and gender dysphoria are a result of “demonic spirits”. This is getting more nonsensical by the day. How are people truly believing this stuff?
Richardson City Council
At their May 1 meeting, the Richardson City Council discussed planned renovations to the city-owned Sherrill Park Golf Course. Drainage issues are the main cause for the renovations which will cost approximately $10 million in total. The city also announced an extension for the Traffic Signal Box Art Contest. The theme this year is Richardson’s 150th. Submissions will be accepted through May 19. The city also reminded residents that the Wildflower Arts & Music Festival will take place this weekend, May 19 – 21. Tickets are $35 online and $45 at the gate. Saturday is your chance to see Joan Jett and The Blackhearts.
At their May 8 meeting, the second quarter financial report was the main event. The fund dedicated to the Sherrill Park Golf Course appears to be the only fund underperforming. The golf course has experienced less use, less revenue, and higher expenses than the city estimated. They are also the only budget category that is fully staffed. If this pattern continues, it may be time for some tough conversations. The city also mentioned that they are expecting significant increases to the price of water and sewer from the NTMWD (Water District). They state that most of the increased water usage is on the commercial side. The entire county will no doubt be impacted by the increased commercial water usage draining an increasingly limited water supply.
That’s it for this week.
Justin Wray Neth