Coppell Chronicle Vol. 2, No. 52
CISD Trustees Propose 4 Bond Measures • Who Will be on Our Ballots? • Dog Park Overdue for Makeover • Irving Eateries Can Get a Bit Boozier
Buckle up, buttercup. We’re going to break down bond packages in some form or fashion every Sunday until the votes are counted. Tell your friends.
CISD Trustees Propose 4 Bond Measures
On Monday evening, the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees voted 6-1 to put $321.5 million worth of bond propositions on the ballot in May. (The dissenting vote was from Manish Sethi.) The package will be broken up into four propositions, as required by a state law enacted since Coppell ISD’s most recent bond election in 2016.
Proposition A ($269,584,000) would cover priority condition needs at all district facilities; renovations of three elementary schools that would get new pre-kindergarten classrooms; new fine arts rehearsal spaces at Coppell High School and Coppell Middle School North; new labs for career, technical, and STEM classes at Coppell High School; a renovation of the domed auditorium at the Coppell High School Ninth Grade Center; equipment and furnishings; safety and security investments; new vehicles; and some technology purchases.
Proposition B ($39,472,000) would pay for the rest of the district’s technology upgrades, including tablets for students and staff plus audio-visual equipment.
Proposition C ($2,931,000) would go toward replacing the turf, track surface, and seat backs at Buddy Echols Field.
Proposition D ($9,524,000) would pay for new locker rooms, restrooms, courts, and lights at the Coppell High School Tennis Center, plus new turf in the Coppell High School fieldhouse.
During Monday’s meeting, Chief Operations Officer Dennis Womack and consultant Cindy Powell were adjusting an Excel spreadsheet in response to the trustees’ directions. Here are the final numbers they arrived at:
I got my first clear look at those numbers on Friday afternoon, and I was initially confused. In each of those charts, the second column from the right adds up to $321,511,050. How can that be true if Buddy Echols Field and the fieldhouse aren't mentioned in the top chart?
I put that question to Board President David Caviness on Saturday, and he explained that the costs associated with Buddy Echols Field and the fieldhouse are included in the “priority condition needs” line item in the top chart. That makes sense, but I told him the district ought to produce a spreadsheet that shows how the line items for each proposition add up to the total for each proposition.
There’s plenty of time to get that done before early voting begins on April 24, just as there’s time for me to write at least nine more articles about this bond package. But for now, let’s concentrate on how Monday’s vote went down.
The trustees’ discussion of the bond package exceeded three hours. During that time, they shifted $11.3 million worth of “refreshes” from the “elementary school renovations” line item in the Future Bond column to the “priority condition needs” line item in the Bond 2023 column.
As the clock approached 11 p.m., Caviness said it was time to poop or get off the pot. “We’ve had ample opportunity to know what this information is and what it looks like,” he said. About 20 minutes later, Nichole Bentley made the motion for a $321.5 million bond package.
Sethi pointed out that $321.5 million is $1.5 million more than what a survey identified as the maximum amount voters would support. “I personally am not very comfortable with this number,” he said. Bentley said she was comfortable with going $1.5 million over that threshold to ensure that every campus was included in the package. Sethi countered that delaying the three elementary renovations could bring the total down to a more manageable $252.5 million.
“That’s a win-win, because we do touch and upgrade every elementary school,” said Sethi, who advocated for breaking up the $511 worth of needs identified by the Bond Steering Committee into three packages that could be put to voters over the course of 10 years. “There’s no harm in waiting.”
Jobby Mathew responded with this: “There’s harm to the strategic priority of what we’re trying to get done, right? If we push all renovations off, then those positives of breaking all the footprint schools into different cycles, of addressing the pre-K needs in the south adequately, giving our teachers the adequate spaces that we know modern education needs, and improving retention — all those things get punted further.”
Sethi replied that he fears voters will reject the entire $321.5 million package, so nothing will get done.
If voters do approve the entire package, the owner of an average home in Coppell ISD (valued at $450,000) would see an annual tax increase of $335 per year or $28 per month, according to the experts at Hilltop Securities. If your home is above or below that average, you can plug its value into the district’s Bond Tax Impact Calculator.
Who Will Be on Our Ballots?
Friday was the deadline to declare a candidacy for all but one of the positions that Coppell and Coppell ISD voters will see on their ballots in April and May. Here’s who turned in their paperwork on time.
COPPELL CITY COUNCIL
Place 1: Cliff Long is bowing out after three terms. The contenders to replace him are Ramesh Premkumar, who chairs Coppell’s Smart City Board, and Jim Walker, who is a member of the Coppell Planning and Zoning Commission and co-chaired the Coppell ISD Bond Steering Committee.
Places 3, 5, and 7: Incumbents Don Carroll, John Jun, and Mark Hill did not draw any challengers, so all three will be automatically reelected.
COPPELL ISD BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Place 4: Neena Biswas, who won this seat in the pandemic-delayed election of November 2020, did not file paperwork to appear on this year’s ballot, but Samit Patel, Jonathan Powers, and Ranna Raval did. Patel and Raval were both members of the Bond Steering Committee.
Place 5: Board President David Caviness, who was elected in 2017 and went unchallenged in 2020, has an opponent. Julie Waters, the leader of the Pinkerton Parent Coalition, declared her candidacy for the Place 5 seat on Tuesday, a week after she withdrew from the Place 4 campaign. (I laughed out loud yesterday when I spotted a “Just Add Waters” sign for the first time.)
Place 7: Incumbent Jobby Mathew, who was appointed by the other trustees in November, is unchallenged for now, but this is the one position with a later filing deadline. Potential candidates have until 5 p.m. on March 6 to step up.
CARROLLTON-FARMERS BRANCH ISD BOARD OF TRUSTEES
Coppell’s Riverchase neighborhood and about half of Valley Ranch are within the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school district, which uses a unique method of electing trustees called cumulative voting. Because two seats are on the ballot this year, each voter will get two votes. You can give both of your votes to a single candidate or divide them among two candidates.
There are three candidates for those two seats: Carolyn Benavides, who was appointed to the board in 2021 and won a special election in 2022; Randy Schackmann, who was a trustee from 2016 until 2022, when he was one of five candidates for three seats; and newcomer Wesley L. Nute Jr.
IRVING CITY COUNCIL
A big chunk of Coppell ISD is in Irving.
Mayor: Valley Ranch resident Rick Stopfer is seeking a third term, but he’ll have to get past challengers Angela Anderson and Martin Saenz first.
District 3: Mark Zeske, who won this seat in a December 2020 runoff, waited until Wednesday to file his paperwork, as did Abdul Khabeer, his opponent in that 2020 runoff. They’ll be up against two other candidates: Paul Bertanzetti and Emmanuel Lewis. (No, not that Emmanuel Lewis.) District 3 includes the Parkside West neighborhood in Coppell ISD.
District 5: Oscar Ward, who has held this seat since 2014, is ineligible to run again due to Irving’s term limits. The contenders to succeed him are Mark Cronenwett (who chairs the Irving Planning and Zoning Commission), Jesse Koehler, Anthony Stanford, Heather Stroup, and Matthew J. Varble. District 5 includes the Parkside East neighborhood in Coppell ISD.
DALLAS CITY COUNCIL
Cypress Waters is in Coppell ISD but also Dallas.
Mayor: Eric Johnson drew no challengers in his bid for a second term as the big man in Big D.
District 6: Omar Narvaez is seeking a fourth and final two-year term, and he has three challengers: Monica R. Alonzo, Tony Carrillo, and Sidney Robles Martinez. Alonzo (Narvaez’s predecessor in this seat) and Carrillo were among Narvaez’s four opponents in 2021.
LEWISVILLE ISD BOARD OF TRUSTEES
The Coppell Greens neighborhood is in Lewisville ISD, as are some homes in Coppell’s East Lake and Westhaven subdivisions along State Highway 121.
Place 6: Incumbent Kristi Hassett is stepping down after three terms. Competing to replace her are Michelle Alkhatib of Highland Village and Mindy Bumgarner of Flower Mound. Bumgarner’s husband, Ben, was elected to the Texas House last year.
Place 7: Incumbent Tracy Scott Miller is not seeking a fourth term. The contenders to succeed him are Jacob Anderson of Lewisville, Staci L. Barker of Flower Mound, Thronn Hicks of Lewisville, and Ashley Jones of Flower Mound. (I’ve known my fair share of Jacobs, Stacis, and Ashleys, but I’ve never met a Thronn.)
LEWISVILLE CITY COUNCIL
A smidgen of Coppell ISD is in Lewisville.
Place 1: Bob Troyer, who won this seat in 2017 and was unopposed in 2020, gets to cruise into a third term without an opponent.
Place 3: Ronni Cade, who won this seat in a 2021 special election, is being challenged by Will Ignace.
Election Day is May 6, so April 6 is the voter registration deadline. Early voting begins April 24.