Plano Independent School District cannot afford the $130 million event center on the November ballot as Proposition D. More specifically, Plano ISD’s taxpayers, teachers, and students can’t afford it—and the district knows it.
Don’t get me wrong. I would love to have graduations in Plano, but the information provided by the district regarding the $130 million event center is missing a critical element.
The way it is presented, it states that it will save $275,000 a year in renting facilities and that the district will rent it out to generate revenue.
What’s missing is that the estimated cost to maintain the event center is $3 million every year, and the rosiest estimate of revenue from renting out the facility is $2.4 million a year.
This event center will cost the district money. It will not generate income. It will have a negative impact on the district budget.
The district’s M&O (Maintenance and Operations) budget is already under strong pressure. About 37 percent of Plano ISD’s M&O property taxes go to the state for “Robin Hood” recapture payments.
At the same time, enrollment is declining by approximately 1,000 students yearly, and the amount of tax money the district gets to keep depends on the number of students (the term is Weighted Average Daily Attendance, or WADA).
So, the district will get to keep less of our property tax dollars and yet put this additional burden on the budget?
Something will have to go. Programs will have to be cut, and teachers might lose their jobs. But we will have an event center.
Is it worth it?
Perhaps my biggest disappointment is that the district was not upfront with its communications. They positioned it as if the event center would generate revenue instead of being an unaffordable expense for as long as it exists.
I had multiple meetings with the district to try to convince them to be upfront with this information.
When you read their communications, even in a recent Facebook post, you will still get the impression that the event center will positively impact the budget.
It will not, and the worst thing is that the district knows it.
Just call them and ask, as I did.
I struggled a lot with not posting something like this. But after my last meeting with the district (only last Thursday), I couldn’t not post it. I felt you needed to know before you make your decision on how to vote on Plano ISD’s Prop D.
Look, I would love to have a $130 million event center in Plano. I would also love to buy a $20 million private jet. But I will never try to “sell it” to my wife as saving on airfare.
Also, if I bought a private jet and it turned out to be a big economic mistake, I would be the only person who pays the price for it. Not you. Not the teachers. Not the students in Plano ISD.
But when the real economics behind the event center see the light of day, all taxpayers will pay the price.
The worst thing is, so will the students who will see programs being cut and the teachers who will lose their jobs because the M&O budget can’t support them anymore.
I’m sure the district will point the finger at the state for taking so much of our property tax through “Robin Hood” and ignore the fact that the district itself had intentionally put this burden on its budget.
And for what? Our big ego? This reminds me of a statement from the beginning of the first Top Gun movie: “Son, your ego is writing checks your body can’t cash.”
This event center is not for the students. It’s for our ego, at the expense of our students and our teachers.
NOTE: Voters can read more about all five Plano ISD bond and tax increase propositions HERE. Election Day is November 8. Early voting runs October 24 through November 4.
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