Plano ISD Approves Building Purchase For Planned Academy

By Carol Cavazos, CBS 11 News

PLANO (CBS 11 NEWS) – For some, a former AT&T call center at 1701 Alma Road in Plano would make a great place for a long-awaited academy housing 600 Plano ISD students.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is a win for the students of Plano,” one parent told PISD board members at a meeting Tuesday night.

The price tag, at $6.3 million, is a real bargain, others told the board.

“A building we’re getting for less than a third of the actual cost,” said Adrian Rodriguez. “And we’re getting this with bond money where we’re not affecting salaries.”

Others told board members they were worried about the cost of maintenance and operations, which the district estimates would cost more than $1.7 million over five years.

“M & O is where teachers salaries come from. I cannot look at another teacher who’s been RIF’d [laid off through a reduction in force] because we bought a building,” Kelly Thomas told board members.

Another parent told the board, “It’s an irresponsible decision to be making at this time when we just laid off 233 teachers. The idea might be great but the timing is terrible.”

But the district says it’ll look for corporate sponsors to cover the M & O. The board of trustees approved the purchase of the building on a vote of five to two.

Some wonder if the vote would have passed if board members had waited until after the May 14 school board elections.

Tuesday night’s board meeting was originally scheduled as a work session. But during the board meeting, district officials explained their option to purchase the building ends on April 20.

Carolyn Alvey said that everyone supported the idea of the academy, herself included. But she wants to see a master plan and budget for it.

With the district facing a loss of $30 to 60 million in state funding, there are many questions about the future that have no answers.

Some parents would just like the board to provide more information. “I would really like to see you all be more forthcoming with your plan for the academy. Thank you,” Denise Cook said.

The academy is set to open in the Fall of 2013.

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  • Jim Kelly

    This makes absolutely no sense. 6.3 million dollars may be a real bargain but what good is a class room you have no teachers to teach in?
    It’s like the five million they found to fix the clock in Ft. Worth, people come to cow town to see the rodeo but I’ve never heard of someone coming to see the clock. Our kids need this money in our schools.
    This is simply waste to line certain peoples pockets.
    Yes there is a lot of waste in the school system too. I hear about school administrators that make over $200,000 a year and our President doesn’t even make that much. Not from his job anyway. And yes, there are teachers that shouldn’t be allowed in the classroom but since they have a diploma they think that makes them qualified to teach. Not so, it’s not that we don’t have the money to take care of our schools, we just waste too much of it to line others pockets.

  • Brent

    To your point, why are administrators making $200,000? This is why we need a secondary audit performed to analyze all expenditures. Let me expand on the auditing issue, the yearly report that is required by law only tells you if the accounting was done properly and confirms there were no improprieties with the funds. It doesn’t guarantee the funds were used in an efficient manner unless you pay for a study to be done by an outside consulting firm.

    I feel it would be in the best interest to our school’s, teacher’s, and citizens to demand a further investigating by a third party auditing committee to confirm how our tax dollars are being spent. It is clear based on the quick decision to buy a $6.4 million dollar building for an Academy that some members of the Board are making quick decisions and are clearly not listening to their tax paying citizens. Most of us have no idea of the district’s plan, development, or problem based learning they plan to incorporate at this school. We are in a deficit, they cut teacher’s job’s and they are increasing classroom sizes where needed. Foremost, where do they plan on getting the money? They mentioned some of it will come from corporate bonds, but there are no key players at this time. Poor planning, quick votes (which were done before the election in May to get it passed), and more debt. We need to ask more questions and get answers. WE NEED TO DEMAND A SECONDARY AUDIT by the people not as PISD as their client.

  • Brent

    In addition, the building is on the tax rolls at $5.8 million. How was this a good deal?

  • Andrew

    I don’t care if this doesn’t cost the district a single dime, it is an irresponsible decision to make after having just laid off so many.

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