It’ll take more than Astroturf to cover-up the problems at Abilene’s Wylie Independent School District. Passing rates have fallen like a brick since 2000, according to the state education agency, while per pupil revenues have grown like a weed. But never mind the academics, they’re on a football stadium spending spree!

The Abilene Reporter-News — regurgitating without question the school district’s puffery — notes one school board member disingenuously saying they “haven’t had a school tax increase in nine years” and decreased taxes one year. Unmentioned is that “one year” was when the state made them do it, and in the other nine property tax burdens soared thanks to the screwy appraisal process plaguing property owners

As a former Bulldog myself, I’m disgusted that the school district thinks nothing of cheering a $2.8-million stadium beautification effort (which includes “a 55-foot-high archway”) at the same time they are raising taxes. The district says “expenditures are running too high” at the same time they are giving “cost-of-living raises for all Wylie staff.”

But we know where the school district’s priorities are (and those of the ARN). Just 173 words were used to, in effect, tell taxpayers to leave their ATM cards at the superintendent’s office so he can get what he needs. Meanwhile, 273 words were used describing the new football stadium, including a link to aerial photographs. Sure, high school football is the state’s official religion, but do the temples have to come at the expenses of the educational soul?

But back to the money. Administrators there have seen their average pay climb almost $14,000 a year since 2000, to $82,495, while average teacher pay has risen $5,000, to $38,811.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, and a dog. Check out his podcast, Reflections on Life and Liberty.

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