Coppell Chronicle Vol. 3, No. 3
Survey Says Voters Don’t Want Arts Venue • Fisher Has Second Thoughts on Comeback • Irving to Establish First Homeless Shelter • Coppell Businesses Leave Money on Table
I recently became aware that Substack ranks its newsletters by how many paid subscribers they have. Those rankings are sorted by categories, and the newsletter you’re reading right now is in the News category. Other categories include Sports, Politics, Culture, and [shudder] Crypto.
The first time I checked the News Leaderboard, the Coppell Chronicle was 29th on a list with more than 165 slots. Not bad for a publication focused on one little corner of Dallas County, especially considering that the No. 1 position is occupied by a newsletter about a much larger community: China.
Your favorite weekly email has since slipped into 37th place. I would be tickled if we could crack the top 20. You know what would help?
Survey Says Voters Don’t Want Arts Venue
Coppell ISD’s $321.5 million bond package does not include a new performing arts venue, and some theater parents are dramatically upset about that. However, a survey indicated voters would not support such a project.
On behalf of Coppell ISD, Austin-based Baselice & Associates surveyed 300 people late last year, and the survey language made things plain: “The current auditoriums at Coppell High School and Coppell High School Ninth Grade Center do not meet the program requirements for the campus or district.” Another survey question said, “Coppell ISD does not have a facility with seating for 1,400 people for large fine arts performances, special events, and school assemblies while most of Coppell’s peer districts have such a facility.”
(See “Fine Arts Goals Get Fine Tuned” in the June 15 edition.)
Nonetheless, 59 percent of respondents were against the idea of spending $60 million on a new auditorium after being informed of the facts of the matter. Initially, 69 percent of respondents were against it. Check out the bottom line on this slide.
Baselice’s Matt Gamble explained the difference between that slide’s “initial” and “informed” statistics during the Coppell ISD trustees’ Feb. 6 workshop.
Initial: “We haven’t told the respondents anything about what the bond may include or how it’s gonna benefit the district. It’s just kind of getting their reaction to this ballot language.”
Informed: “We provided just a little bit more information on why they’re being considered, and a lot of times it’s usually in the form of a problem and a solution. So we kind of lay out what the issue is and how this proposition will solve that.”
Although only 48 percent of the respondents said they would support $320 million worth of bonds, 83 percent of them had a positive impression of Coppell ISD while only 12 percent had a negative impression of the district. (The survey’s margin of error was 5.7 percent.) Gamble, who said he’s done about 40 such surveys in the last couple of years, told the Coppell ISD trustees, “This is about the lowest negative I’ve seen in quite a while.”
Gamble also pointed out that various aspects of the bond package enjoyed wide support. For example, 70 percent of respondents said they could get behind new classrooms for career, technical, and STEM courses at Coppell High School, and 64 percent supported new playgrounds at elementary schools. Yet less than 50 percent of the respondents said they would vote for the total package, which will include a renovation of the Ninth Grade Center’s auditorium and the construction of new rehearsal spaces for fine arts programs at CHS and Coppell Middle School North.
“What’s really frustrating for me is something like this, if you have a lot of voters liking the projects that you want to do,” Gamble said. “There’s nothing that you’re looking to do that they don’t like. It’s just the challenge of getting them to actually support the bonds to fund that.”
When Coppell ISD had its last bond election in 2016, only 50.2 percent of voters supported the $249 million package. A mere 22 voters made the difference between approval and rejection. Gamble expects this year’s election to be just as close.
“In our survey, we had a captive audience, and the best we got was a plus-1 support. That’s a little bit harder to replicate in reality and an actual election,” he said. “That tells you communication is going to be very important, but so is voter turnout.”
Coincidentally, Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD also hired Baselice to survey its residents late last year, when 67 percent of the 350 respondents had a positive impression of that district compared to 14 percent who had a negative impression. Initially, 53 percent of respondents said they would support a $670 million bond package. After the respondents became more informed, the level of support rose to 74 percent.
We’ll see if that level of support holds on May 6, when voters in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD — which includes portions of Coppell and Irving — will be asked to consider a $716.4 million bond package.
As promised, all articles about the bond elections will be outside the paywall, so feel free to share this edition on your social platform of choice.
Fisher Has Second Thoughts on Comeback
Last week was an emotional rollercoaster for people who follow Coppell ISD politics, as Tracy Fisher made a bid to reclaim her former seat on the school board then thought better of it.