A multibillion-dollar bond package put on the November ballot by Prosper Independent School District includes a high school football stadium that, if approved, will be the most expensive in Texas history.
Prosper taxpayers are divided over the district’s over-the-top spending, which has been a trend in the wealthy suburban school district north of Dallas.
Prosper ISD’s proposed bond package totals $2.8 billion, plus interest, all of which must be repaid with property taxes.
The new 8,000-seat stadium is expected to cost $94.8 million before interest.
According to Dallas Morning News watchdog Dave Lieber, it will be the most expensive high school football stadium in Texas.
The district’s original stadium at Prosper High School seats 12,000 and cost more than $50 million. At the time it opened in 2019, it boasted the largest Jumbotron in a Texas high school stadium.
The new stadium will likely be built at Richland High School.
“We just want to be the most expensive, not the more effective,” Prosper ISD taxpayer Emily Cochrane said, calling the costs of the stadium and other facilities “kickback prices.”
Prosper ISD has a history of building expensive facilities.
Prosper High School opened in 2009 at a construction cost of $113.5 million, believed to be the most expensive high school in Texas at the time.
In 2020, the district opened Rock Hill High School, with a price tag of around $200 million.
Walnut Grove High School opened this fall at a cost that topped $200 million.
“This new multi-million dollar campus is more like a prestigious college campus crossed with a professional athletics compound crossed with a mall food court,” wrote one media outlet.
Another called Walnut Grove “the most luxurious high school in the world.”
Photos of the new school’s athletic facilities went viral on social media.
Many residents of the prosperous suburb—where Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ company Blue Star Land is a top developer—are delighted with their school district’s pricey facilities.
Gretchen Darby, a public relations consultant and former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader who served on the bond planning committee, said she is “very comfortable” with Prosper ISD’s $2.8 billion bond proposal, including the $94 million stadium.
Other local families want the district to focus on education and reasonably priced buildings.
“The need for campuses isn’t the debate, rather the wasteful spending on excessive campus designs and stadiums is,” said Doug Charles, who heads a conservative advocacy group in Prosper.
Another Collin County school district, Melissa ISD, just opened a “jaw-dropping” 10,000-seat stadium with “luxury boxes and a sizable scoreboard” that cost $35 million.
Prosper ISD also employs one of the more expensive superintendents in the state. Holly Ferguson, whose 2023 contract pays her a base salary of $350,000 (a $40,000 raise over 2022) plus a $40,000 bonus, claims the stadium is about education, not just football.
Local taxpayers remain skeptical.
“Preparing for future growth is completely different than grossly overspending on a football stadium,” Prosper resident Bryan Cole said. “Anyone that voted in favor of presenting this to the voters should be ashamed.”
Prosper ISD is proposing four separate bonds:
- Prop A: $2,439,575,000 for new schools, updates to existing schools, land for future schools, safety and security, and buses
- Prop B: $140,000,000 for new technology devices for students, teachers, and staff
- Prop C: $102,000,000 for a new football stadium and other athletic facilities upgrades
- Prop D: $125,000,000 for a performing arts center
School districts are required to provide information on the full costs of their bonds including interest by mid-October. Texas Scorecard will cover the tax impact of the complete bond package at that time.
Early voting starts October 23. Election Day is November 7.