Coppell Chronicle Vol. 3, No. 8
Fentanyl Has Killed Coppell Residents • Proposition B Addresses ‘Unfunded Mandate’ • Majority of Council Trusts Developer • Library Director to Begin New Chapter
One of the candidates in the upcoming elections made me laugh yesterday by relaying the very first question this candidate fielded at a recent meet-and-greet: “What do you think of the Coppell Chronicle?”
That was not among the questions I submitted to the seven candidates competing for two seats on the Coppell ISD Board of Trustees and one seat on the Coppell City Council. I plan to publish their answers next Sunday. Meanwhile, you have a few more opportunities to hear these candidates in person before early voting begins next week.
Tomorrow: The Coppell ISD PTO Presidents will host a forum for Coppell ISD Board of Trustees candidates at 7 p.m. at Coppell High School.
Tuesday: The League of Women Voters of Irving will host a forum for Coppell ISD and Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD candidates at 7 p.m. at the Valley Ranch Library.
April 24: The Coppell Senior Center Advisory Committee will host a forum for Coppell City Council and Coppell ISD Board of Trustees candidates at 8 a.m. at the Coppell Senior and Community Center.
Fentanyl Has Killed Coppell Residents
Two Coppell residents fatally overdosed on fentanyl in the first quarter of 2023, according to Police Chief Danny Barton.
Barton told the City Council on Tuesday that an 18-year-old and a 21-year-old have died this year. Although he did not specify when the deaths occurred, he said they happened 23 days apart and that 23 days had not passed since the latter death. Barton also said there were “a few” fatal overdoses in Coppell last year.
“I’ve never seen anything that’s bugged me like this is bugging me, because the trajectory that we’re on is alarming,” Barton said, “and our community has got to understand the realities of what’s going on.”
Barton said Coppell Fire Department paramedics have treated 11 overdoses in 2023; whether those 11 cases include the two fatalities was not clear. He said 10 of those 11 procedures involved Narcan, a nasal spray that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. Barton said all of his officers carry Narcan, and Coppell ISD keeps supplies of the remedy on its campuses.
Fentanyl is an FDA-approved synthetic painkiller. Over the past decade, illegally made fentanyl has increasingly been found in the nation’s drug supply, which has contributed to the rising number of fatal overdoses in the United States. Barton’s presentation to the council included these two charts produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
While searching for those charts on the institute’s website, I came across another one documenting the dramatic rise in the number of fentanyl pills seized by law enforcement officers nationwide.
Barton said his officers recently seized fentanyl pills at Coppell High School, where a juvenile was arrested and charged.
“We know he’s not the only person in our school,” the chief said. “It’s in every school in America.”
Knowing that Barton would be discussing fentanyl with the council on Tuesday, Coppell ISD Superintendent Brad Hunt issued a lengthy statement the same day that said all of the district’s middle and high school students will hear a presentation this semester from Colleen Michaelis, the P.E. teacher at Pinkerton Elementary School. Her son Tommy McClenahan died of a heroin overdose in 2018 when he was 24, but Michaelis has attributed the start of his addiction issues to prescription painkillers and has said fentanyl “was at the top of his toxicology report.” Michaelis’ “Addiction Does Not Have a Zip Code” presentation will also be made available to parents via Zoom at 6 p.m. on May 3. (Click here to register.)
In their respective presentation and statement, Barton and Hunt both encouraged parents to talk to their children about the dangers of drugs, monitor their kids’ usage of social media, and question whether a child’s behavior or new group of friends could be a symptom of drug abuse.
“This is not a problem that the police can solve alone,” Barton said. “We’re not gonna arrest our way out of this issue. We’ve never been able to do that as a nation or a society.”
This article is outside the Chronicle’s paywall because I’m heeding Barton’s plea to help spread the word.
“I don’t want anyone in Coppell to not know this is happening,” he said. “And I want everyone to know that they’ve gotta take it seriously. It could be your kid.”
Proposition B Addresses ‘Unfunded Mandate’
Last week’s article about Coppell ISD’s $321.5 million bond election highlighted the athletics facilities that fall under Propositions C and D. Next week’s article will focus on a few aspects of Proposition A.
Given that information, you don’t have to be a B student to deduce which proposition we’ll discuss this week.
If approved by voters, Proposition B would fund $39.5 million worth of technology purchases, including upgrades and lifecycle replacements of student and staff devices, wireless access, and audiovisual equipment. The general purpose Proposition A — which covers nearly 84 percent of the bond package’s total price tag — also includes about $2.2 million worth of technology that would be devoted to network security and telecommunications infrastructure. But the Texas Legislature said any tech projects “other than security equipment or integral infrastructure” must be broken out as a special proposition.
(See “Legislature Made Bond Elections Harder” in Vol. 3, No. 1.)
Students across Texas began taking their annual STAAR (State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness) standardized tests this month, and they’re doing so via technology. As Coppell ISD explained in a recent Facebook video, the Texas Education Agency mandated that the STAAR be administered online no later than this year, but the district chose to forgo pencil-and-paper tests in 2022 so that the introduction of an online assessment wouldn’t coincide with other adjustments to the STAAR test.
On Feb. 13, when the Coppell school board voted to put the four bond propositions on the May 6 ballot, Trustee Nichole Bentley pointed out that the state requires technology for mandatory tests but also requires that bonds covering technology be broken out as a separate proposition.
“In a way, it feels like an unfunded mandate now, which it wasn’t before,” Bentley said. “Before, I felt like we were kind of ahead of the curve [by supplying tablets to all students]. But I just think it’s important for the community to understand the importance of it. It’s not just a preference anymore. It really is a requirement for how we operate, and educate our kids, and get our scores, and testing.”
As I’ve reported many times, the district’s financial experts estimate that the maximum tax impact on an average home in Coppell ISD (valued at $450,000) would be an increase of $335 per year or $28 per month, assuming voters approve all four propositions. You can use the district’s Bond Tax Impact Calculator to find out what the maximum impact would be on your home.
If you’d like to learn more about the bond package, Coppell ISD Director of Communications Amanda Simpson is scheduled to provide a presentation at 6 p.m. on Thursday at the Cozby Library and Community Commons.