Attorneys for Plano Independent School District are refusing to disclose how much taxpayer money the district spent advertising a tax increase and billion-dollar bond package on the November ballot, a lack of transparency that further undermines trust in the district’s officials.
On October 27, Texas Scorecard requested documents from Plano ISD showing the district’s expenditures of public (taxpayer) funds used to market five ballot propositions that would increase local residents’ property tax burdens.
The propositions included a tax rate higher than the state-allowed maximum (the district said it was not a tax increase) and four bonds totaling $1.5 billion ($2.4 billion with interest—information overlooked in the district’s bond-boosting materials). The tax rate and two biggest bonds passed, while smaller bonds for an event center and stadium upgrades failed.
On November 10, Plano ISD’s outside attorneys Abernathy Roeder Boyd Hullett (whose fees are paid with local tax dollars) sent a letter to the Texas attorney general’s office seeking permission to withhold the district’s bond-campaign receipts from the public.
Abernathy attorney Rebecca Bradley claimed all of the requested information is “excepted from disclosure” under the Texas Public Information Act.
She cited as a reason all of the exceptions included in the TPIA, “Section 552.101 through Section 552.162.”
The district waited 10 business days—the maximum allowed by state law for responding to public information requests—before contacting the AG’s office, a common delay tactic. The Texas Association of School Boards and Texas Association of School Administrators hosted a workshop on the topic at their annual conference last year.
Texas Scorecard asked the district’s elected school board trustees if they believe the information about how the district spent taxpayer funds should be withheld from the public.
Trustee Cody Weaver said he is looking into it. This story will be updated to include other responses.
Citizens can also contact Plano ISD school board members.