Coppell Chronicle Vol. 3, No. 11
Coppell ISD Approves 4 Bond Propositions • DFW-Area School Bonds Had Mixed Results • Caviness Keeps His Seat; Raval Claims Hers • Second Time Was the Charm for Walker
Because the Coppell 5K benefits our Special Olympics teams, and my older son is a Special Olympian, the Coppell Chronicle will sponsor the annual race for the second consecutive year. My level of sponsorship comes with two complimentary race entries, which will go to the first two subscribers who claim them by replying to this edition. The 5K is scheduled for June 3.
OK, let’s discuss some entirely different races.
Coppell ISD Approves 4 Bond Propositions
In his final campaign video, Coppell ISD Board of Trustees President David Caviness addressed what would happen if voters rejected the district’s $321.5 million bond package.
“There are not enough cash reserves to provide for the maintenance needs of our facilities,” he said, “and the board and district will be forced to have very tough discussions regarding our campuses, programs, and course offerings.”
In that respect, crisis averted!
According to the final unofficial results posted by the Dallas County Elections Department, Coppell ISD voters approved all four bond propositions with varying levels of support.
Proposition A ($269.6 million) was approved by 64.5 percent of voters. It will 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 ($39.5 million) was also approved by 64.5 percent of voters. It will pay for the rest of the district’s technology upgrades, including tablets for students and staff plus audio-visual equipment.
Proposition C ($2.9 million) — which will go toward replacing the turf, track surface, and seat backs at Buddy Echols Field — received the lowest level of support among the four propositions: 52.5 percent. (Cowboy fight never dies, am I right?)
Proposition D ($9.5 million) was approved by 54.6 percent of voters. It will 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.
If you haven’t already, you can use Coppell ISD’s Bond Tax Impact Calculator to figure out how much your tax bill will go up due to these election results.
On this map, the red precincts are the ones where a majority of the voters were against the Buddy Echols Field proposition, and the yellow precincts are where it was approved by fewer than 55 percent of voters. The tan precincts had no recorded votes.
(Only one person voted in Precinct 2910, and that voter was against all four bond propositions. Eight people voted in Precinct 2608; six of them were against Proposition A, and five of them rejected Proposition B.)
Coppell ISD’s previous bond election was much closer. In 2016, only 50.2 percent of voters approved a single proposition worth $249 million. This time around, the district was more proactive in its communications, laying out the facts and statistics on its website, in targeted emails, during in-person presentations, and via a series of postcards.
Additionally, a political action committee called “Yes! Committed to Our Schools” urged voters to approve all four bond propositions. As I have written about that PAC’s activities and finances over the past few weeks, some subscribers have asked whether I was aware of any anti-bond PACs. I was not — until Friday morning.
On the day before Election Day, Coppell ISD received an “appointment of a campaign treasurer” form from an organization called ABC PAC that said its purpose is “OPPOSE COPPELL ISD BOND ELECTION.” I was not familiar with the treasurer’s name, Dinesh Tiwari, but the form said he was appointed by a person with whom I am very familiar … [drumroll] … Ronald Hansen.
Hansen is a three-time candidate for the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees; he unsuccessfully challenged incumbents Anthony Hill, Thom Hulme, and Tracy Fisher in 2016, 2017, and 2018, respectively. This year, he waited until more than 4,100 early voters had already cast their ballots before launching his PAC activities, which consisted solely of mass text messages, as far as I can tell. I didn’t get any of those texts, but Caviness did, and so did incoming Coppell High School PTSO President Rosie Stevens. Both of them were early voters who had endorsed passage of the bond propositions.
One of the texts from the ABC PAC said, “Did you know the pro-bond committee spent thousands of dollars without disclosing who funded them?” After I published last week’s edition, Yes! Committed to Our Schools co-chair Trudy Baade told me the $2,324 worth of credit card expenditures on her PAC’s latest campaign finance report were made on cards that belong to her and her co-chair, Gaby Anene.
This is a good time to remind Anene and Baade, and Hansen and Tiwari, and all local candidates and officeholders that their next finance reports are due on July 17. Meet me here on July 23 to see who complied with that regulation.
DFW-Area Bond Elections Had Mixed Results
Voters in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD — which includes Coppell’s Riverchase neighborhood and about half of Valley Ranch — approved a $716.4 million bond package, with 64.5 percent of voters supporting it. That district’s messaging said approval of the single proposition would not necessitate an increase in the tax rate.
Coppell ISD and Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD were two of 10 school districts in North Texas — which I’m defining as Dallas, Collin, Denton, and Tarrant counties — that wrapped up bond elections yesterday. Our neighbors to the south in Irving ISD were considering five propositions with a combined value of $701.8 million; they approved three of them but rejected two related to athletics and performing arts.
Voters in Denton ISD and Kennedale ISD also said no to bond propositions about athletics, and Crowley ISD voters rejected one regarding fine arts.
Meanwhile, Garland ISD voters approved three bond propositions with a combined value of $1.3 billion (yes, billion with a B), but Cedar Hill ISD voters narrowly turned down their single all-encompassing proposition valued at $208 million.
Here’s a spreadsheet detailing the results across North Texas.
Caviness Keeps His Seat; Raval Claims Hers
Coppell ISD Board President David Caviness fended off a strong challenge from Julie Waters for his Place 5 seat, securing 54 percent of the votes to her 46 percent. Caviness was unopposed three years ago, but he cruised to victory in 2017 by winning 66 percent of the votes in his contest against Vara Kuppam, who has since disappeared off the face of the earth, from this reporter’s perspective.
Waters, on the other hand, indicated we haven’t heard the last of her.
“To my 1,000 yard-sign holders, please take my sign out of your yard and hold on to it for the next election,” she said in a lengthy Facebook post, which also says the 2,746 votes she earned represent the highest total in district history for a non-incumbent. If Waters had remained in the Place 4 race instead of challenging Caviness, she’d likely be taking an oath of office later this month.
Instead, the Place 4 seat that Neena Biswas has occupied since 2020 will go to Ranna Raval, who earned 40 percent of the votes, narrowly edging Jonathan Powers’ 38 percent. Samit Patel garnered 22 percent.
Raval won the green precincts on that map, and Powers won the purple ones. The blue area represents a tie; Patel and Powers each earned four of the 10 votes from Precinct 2614.
In other school districts that overlap with the City of Coppell …
Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD
Carrollton-Farmers Branch elects trustees via cumulative voting. Because two seats were on the ballot this year, each voter got two votes, and they could vote for the same candidate twice.
There were three candidates for those two seats, and newcomer Wesley L. Nute Jr. was the odd man out with 28.6 percent of the votes. Carolyn Benavides, who was appointed to the board in 2021 and went unchallenged in a 2022 special election, won her first three-year term with 37.8 percent. Randy Schackmann — who was a trustee from 2016 until 2022, when he was one of five candidates for three seats — will rejoin the board after receiving 33.6 percent.
The Coppell Greens neighborhood is in Lewisville ISD, as are some homes in the East Lake and Westhaven subdivisions along State Highway 121.
Place 6: Michelle Alkhatib of Highland Village (55 percent) bested Mindy Bumgarner of Flower Mound (45 percent) as they vied for an open seat. Bumgarner’s husband, Ben Bumgarner, was elected to the Texas House last year, and Coppell Greens is in his district.
Place 7: Staci L. Barker of Flower Mound (44 percent) won this open seat by besting Jacob Anderson of Lewisville (30 percent) and Ashley Jones of Flower Mound (26 percent). A fourth candidate, Thronn Hicks of Lewisville, withdrew before the filing deadline.
Second Time Was the Charm for Walker
Jim Walker, who is a longtime member of the Coppell Planning and Zoning Commission and co-chaired Coppell ISD’s Bond Steering Committee, bested Ramesh Premkumar, who chairs Coppell’s Smart City Board, in the only contested City Council campaign. Walker not only won 62 percent of the votes overall, he also won every precinct. Because I’m oh so proud of these precinct maps I commissioned, here’s one that displays his margins of victory. The darker the green, the better Walker did.
This was Walker’s second campaign for the City Council; he lost in 2020 to John Jun, who lost in 2018 to Biju Mathew. I’m not saying that Premkumar is destined to win a council seat in a couple of years, but if he chooses to run again, other would-be candidates ought to take heed of the emerging pattern.
In other cities that overlap with Coppell ISD …
Two City Council seats representing portions of Coppell ISD were on the ballot.
District 3: Mark Zeske won this seat by besting Abdul Khabeer in a December 2020 runoff, and the two of them are going to a runoff again. This time around, Khabeer got 48 percent of the votes to Zeske’s 33 percent. District 3 includes the Parkside West neighborhood in Coppell ISD.
District 5: Five candidates vied for this seat that Oscar Ward has to vacate due to Irving’s term limits. Mark Cronenwett (41 percent) and Heather Stroup (28 percent) are headed to a runoff. District 5 includes the Parkside East neighborhood in Coppell ISD.
Propositions: Irving voters were asked to consider 10 changes to their city charter, and they approved all of them.
A sliver of Coppell ISD is in Lewisville, which had only one City Council contest. Ronni Cade, who won his seat in a 2021 special election, had no trouble fending off a challenge from Will Ignace, 83 percent to 17 percent.
Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Omar Narvaez won a fourth and final two-year City Council term representing District 6, which includes Cypress Waters. He secured 53.3 percent of the votes, despite having three challengers.
Updates from the Sports Desk
• I’m sorry to report that the Coppell Cowboys baseball team was not only swept but also shut out by Denton Guyer in the first round of the playoffs. The Wildcats won 3-0 on Thursday and 6-0 on Friday.
• Coppell’s Special Olympics soccer team will close out their season with a game at Coppell Middle School West on Tuesday evening. “We would love a huge turnout to cheer on our athletes and make this a fun night for them,” coach Taylor Mounce said. The game is scheduled to start at 5 p.m.
• Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons worked a shift at Coppell’s Hat Creek Burger Company on Wednesday to raise awareness of the chain’s Giveback Burger Campaign benefiting Foster Village, a nonprofit that helps foster homes with everyday needs. If you weren’t able to stop by, here’s what that looked like.
• Coppell ISD Superintendent Brad Hunt sent a “mayday” message to district parents on May 1, imploring us to contact our legislators about using more of the state’s $32 billion surplus to increase public schools’ funding. As a reminder, Coppell ISD is sending $46.5 million to the state government this year as part of the “Robin Hood” recapture program.
• In last week’s Crumbs, I mentioned how impressed I was by the kids graduating in the top 5 percent of their classes at Coppell High School and New Tech High @ Coppell. One of those impressive students, Jeffrey Wang, was recently featured on NBC 5 for his award-winning artwork. Despite his talent with a paintbrush, Wang plans to study neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University.
• Attention, teachers: In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, Whataburger will provide free breakfasts to educators between 5 and 9 a.m. tomorrow through Friday. Meanwhile, 151 Coffee will offer 50-percent discounts on all beverages for teachers and other school employees between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. tomorrow through Friday.
• If you see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, keep your eyes peeled for Logan Swicegood’s name in the credits. The graduate of New Tech High is a visualization artist for a Hollywood effects firm called The Third Floor.
• The proposed “lodging house” ordinance that I wrote about in Vol. 3, No. 5 (“Script May be Flipped on Short-Term Rentals”) will be the subject of a public hearing during the Coppell City Council’s meeting on Tuesday evening.
• The city has placed a sign about a proposed zoning change in front of Kroger. I didn’t notice this sign until Friday afternoon, after the Planning Department had gone home for the weekend, but former City Council member Aaron Duncan pointed me to a document indicating the store wants to add a “fuel center and additional signage.”
• Natural Grocers announced on Friday that its Coppell store will close for good on June 27. The chain’s store in north Fort Worth will also close that day. Natural Grocers has 23 other stores in Texas.
• A note taped to the front door of the Barnes & Noble in Lewisville says that store will close for good on May 21. If you buy books, I recommend doing so at a charming shop in Dallas called Interabang Books. They’ll conveniently ship them right to your mailbox, just like Jeff Bezos’ mammoth corporation with multiple fulfillment centers in Coppell.
• An ad that popped up on my Facebook feed informed me that Coppell will soon have a new tutoring business called the Russian School of Mathematics, a name that someone apparently deemed a good idea.
Inked Fingerprinting Services: Because some companies still require ink fingerprints as a part of their hiring practices, the Citizen’s Police Academy Alumni Association of Coppell will start offering the service this week. They’ll be in the lobby of the Coppell Police Department between 5 and 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month. The cost will be either $10 or $15, depending on whether customers provide their own cards. Payments will be accepted via cash or check only.
Four Day Weekend: The acclaimed improv comedy troupe will be at the Coppell Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. Other shows are scheduled for June 8 and July 13.
Coppell Cowgirls Sand Volleyball Tournament: Middle and high school students are invited to form teams of eight to 10 players for the 21st annual tournament, which is scheduled for Friday evening.
Run to Fund: The Coppell ISD Education Foundation’s annual fundraiser, which features a 5K race and a 1-mile fun run, will happen Saturday morning at Andrew Brown Park East.
Coppell 5K: The annual race benefiting Coppell’s Special Olympics teams is scheduled for June 3 at Andrew Brown Park East.
Hit Like a Girl: The Coppell Police Department will offer a self-defense course for recent high school graduates from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on June 13 and 14. Attendance on both days will be required to earn a certificate. Reserve one of the limited spaces by sending an email to Officer Kelly Luther via that link.