Since the passage of a $315 million bond for Keller ISD earlier this month, a school vendor that profited from a previous bond scored another financial gain at the expense of taxpayers.

VLK Architects has a long history as a vendor for taxpayer-funded schools. In one school district, VLK has spent big bucks to push property tax-funded debt that finances contracts they later profit from. In a 2014 bond election, they invested $5,000 in the pro-bond “Vote Yes for Keller Schools” political action committee. The $169 million bond passed 57 percent to 43 percent, and VLK was rewarded with $3.8 million from the Keller ISD board of trustees.

While VLK did not fund the pro-bond “Vote for Keller ISD” PAC in this year’s $315 million bond election, they sought to influence the outcome in other ways. In what could be described as an attempt to influence teachers to support the bond, VLK bought classroom supplies for Keller ISD teachers. They also sponsor the Keller ISD Education Foundation.

The 2019 bond passed 53 percent to 47 percent, increasing school district taxpayers’ debt burden to over $1.3 billion. On November 18, the Keller ISD school board voted to extend VLK’s contract “to provide the remaining services associated with project development, design, and specifications for the construction projects identified in the 2019 Bond Program.”

A representative of the district said that Place 6 Trustee Brad Schofield was the lone vote against the measure.

This payout is likely to be the first of numerous contracts handed out to companies that spent money to promote the recent and prior bond elections. Other companies that funded this year’s pro-bond “Vote for Keller ISD” PAC were:

  • BTC, located in Fort Worth, spent $5,000.
  • Pogue Construction, located in McKinney, spent $5,000.
  • Hellas Construction Co., located in Austin, spent $2,500.
  • Peloton Land Solutions, located in Fort Worth, spent $2,000.
  • Reed, Wells, Benson & Company, located in Dallas, spent $2,000.
  • North Texas Contracting, located in Keller, made an in-kind contribution of $5,898 by providing signs to promote the bond.

Keller ISD taxpayers concerned about this issue can contact their elected board of trustees.

Robert Montoya

Born in Houston, Robert Montoya is an investigative reporter for Texas Scorecard. He believes transparency is the obligation of government.