Tag Archives: Princeton ISD

Get ready to rumble!

Carlos Cuellar sought to issue a word of caution to his fellow Princeton school board  trustees prior to their vote on a resolution aimed at federal education policies.

They should be prepared to fight a long battle in the courtroom, he said. Not to be deterred, the board voted unanimously to send a resolution denouncing Biden administration policies on Title IX, the 50-plus-year-old law that sought to prevent discrimination against female student-athletes.

The battle has morphed into something quite different these days and Princeton has joined the fight against what it believes is an effort to allow males to compete with females and for males to use female restrooms.

I am going to keep my opinions on this matter to myself, as I cover it for the Princeton Herald. I am willing, though, to echo Cuellar’s observation about what lies ahead for the school system.

There will be lots of litigation. I mean to say it might not end in the foreseeable future.

Trustee Duane Kelly said he is prepared to fight. So are the rest of the board. I cannot speak for the community as a whole, because I do not know Princeton well enough yet, given that I’ve lived here a mere five years.

This is a new era in public education, to be sure. Title IX was enacted to prevent educational institutions from discriminating against women. It sought to provide equal opportunities for women to compete athletically and in other extracurricular activities.

Now we’re talking about allowing transgendered students to compete alongside people of their chosen gender, rather than against those who are of the same gender at the time of their birth.

Complicated? Yeah … do ya think?

A sign of the times … eek!

If ever there was a sign that exemplified the era in which we live, it well might be this one, a picture of which I snapped at Lovelady High School in Princeton, Texas.

I am 73 years of age and the message on this sign — about armed security personnel using “whatever force necessary” to protect teachers, students and staff at Princeton Independent School District — is one I never envisioned seeing when I was coming of age.

Or, for that matter, when my sons were coming of age in Beaumont, Texas.

The spasm of gun violence in schools has prompted Princeton ISD to hire armed guards at all its campuses. The security personnel all are firearms-trained; some are retired police officers. Farmersville ISD, just seven miles east of Princeton, has a full-time police force with Texas-certified police officers on duty on its campuses.

This is what we have come to in this country. We must warn visitors to our schools that armed guards are on duty and will do whatever it takes to protect human life against loons with guns.

Amazing … simply amazing.

You want a sign of these troubled times? There it is, folks.

Why do I care about these matters?

It’s time to come clean on something, which is part of this journey I have been traveling since I first started collecting Social Security retirement benefits.

It deals with the current dispute in the Texas Legislature over how to reduce property taxes. I haven’t followed the issue as closely as, say, some members of my family. Why not? Because the state of Texas does an extremely good job of protecting us old folks from the pressures of paying increasing property taxes.

You see, we have these homestead exemptions and senior exemptions that freeze our property taxes.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t care about how local governments are spending my tax money. I do watch the Princeton Independent School District, the City of Princeton, Collin County and Collin College spending issues carefully. I don’t want the taxes I pay to be wasted on frivolous expenditures.

It’s the debate over the amount I pay that slides past me.

Legislators are bickering among themselves over how to cut property taxes. So are Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, House Speaker Dade Phelan and Gov. Greg Abbott. They’re sniping among themselves over which plan is suitable. Gov. Abbott says he’ll keep calling lawmakers back to special sessions for as long as it takes to get his way on the issue.

Meanwhile, he’s vetoing legislation that does affect me and my fellow Texans to force legislators to see it his way. That’s not a good look, governor.

I’ll just let ’em keep bickering over property tax reform. I have no particular opinion on which plan works best for me. I’m an old guy. The Legislature already has solved the issue for me.


Princeton ISD voters speak out, however …

I want to offer a tepid endorsement of the decision rendered this past weekend by voters who live in the Princeton Independent School District.

Those who bothered to vote have endorsed a $797 million bond issue to build several new campuses over the next decade. The amount of the bond issue is gigantic, but it is needed in light of the explosive growth that is occurring — and will continue — within the Princeton ISD.

That’s the good news, and it is very good news, indeed.

However, let’s examine something else. The final unofficial vote totals are, to put it simply, abysmal. Princeton ISD officials said that 597 votes were cast in support of the bond issue, compared to 302 votes cast against it. That’s a 66.4% to 33.6% difference. Not even close!

What drives me to the edge of nuttiness, though, is that local elections do not seem to gin up any interest. I don’t have any hard data on the eligible rolls of voters within the school district. The population of the school district is something a bit north of 20,000 residents. Of that total, my rule of thumb puts the number of eligible voters at about half.

So, if that estimate holds up, that puts the percentage of turnout at less than 9%.

I am compelled to ask whether, therefore, the 597 votes in favor of this bond issue constitute a “mandate.” It most assuredly doesn’t come close to a mandate.

What we have here is a case of a few people making decisions for others.

I long have been a champion for greater voter turnout as a way to spread the power throughout a large base. The turnout for Saturday’s critical bond issue invests far too much power in far too few Princeton ISD constituents.

Our democratic process works better when more of us take part.

Don’t misconstrue me on this point. I am delighted that the bond issue received the endorsement it got. The school system was transparent in developing the proposal. It made its recommendation in full public view.

I only wish more of us would have responded at the ballot box.


Going to vote early … for once!

Today I am going to do something I generally avoid like the proverbial plague.

Yep. I am going to vote early in advance of the May 6 election date. You see, I usually wait for Election Day to cast my ballot. My concern usually is to avoid being surprised by candidates for public office who mess up between the time I vote and the date we are scheduled to cast our ballots.

The Princeton, Texas, ballot features a bond issue request from the Princeton Independent School District. It’s a big one: $797 million to pay for construction of several new campuses over the next 10 years; my mind is made up on that matter. There also will be some seats to decide on the Collin College Board of Regents; I am going to take a chance and cast my votes for those seats with the hope that no one gets in trouble.

I am going to be out of town on May 6, which means I have to vote early. It’s the only reason I would do so. If I were King of the World, I would persuade the state to move Election Day to suit my schedule.

I can’t do that … obviously.

So I will do my civic duty as a proud American patriot and cast my vote early.


Princeton ISD: proactive approach

Princeton’s bond issue proposal that goes to the voters on May 6 is going to ask for a lot of money: $797 million to be precise.

Part of the request contains something that deserves specific comment today. Princeton Independent School District wants to build another high school to cope with the explosive growth in student enrollment that is occurring.

Princeton ISD already has two campuses for high school students. Princeton High School is where upperclassmen and women attend; Lovelady High School next door is where freshmen attend school. The district wants to build a third campus, which it will name Philip Anthony High School after a recently retired superintendent.

The decision to build a high school seems to run counter to what I consider something of an urban myth about Texas public education, which is that Texans are reluctant to build such campuses in an effort to keep HS student bodies large, enabling the school system to attract blue-chip student-athletes.

I recently got into a discussion about this with family members. I would argue that some communities in Texas adhere to that philosophy. I can point to nearby Allen Independent School District, which is home to the state’s largest high school; roughly 6,000 students attend Allen High … which also is a perennial high school football power.

Princeton High does not possess such a reputation. Which I suppose might explain Princeton ISD’s eagerness to build another campus to cope with the growth that demographers believe isn’t about to stop any time soon.

Princeton’s philosophy also encourages more personal learning environments for educators and students, which appears to appeal to more traditional views on how kids are able to obtain a high-quality education. I should stipulate, though, that Allen High also produces high-performing students and it offers students a top-tier education as well.

Princeton ISD won’t turn dirt over right away on its new high school if voters approve the bond issue next month. Parents and students will have to wait. I do like the district’s proactive approach to handling the high demand that is sure to come its way.


Changes sprout in my absence

Holy smokes, man! I take off for a month, return to my Princeton home and see with my own eyes that the city has changed.

Maybe I need to get out more … you know?

For starters, the city street department has completed work on a Beauchamp Boulevard lane, giving motorists more direct access to Myrick Lane just south of my house.

Then I noticed that the city installed stop signs at the corner of Lowe Elementary School. It’s an “all-way” stop directive for motorists. To be blunt, this is something that likely should have been done four years ago when the school opened its doors to welcome the children, many of whom walk to school and then back home at the end of the day.

Whatever. It’s done and I’m glad about that.

More commercial development is occurring next to the major market near my house. I have put out a request from my go-to guy at City Hall — City Manager Derek Borg — asking what’s being built.

When I drove to my house Saturday afternoon, I noticed even more residences have sprouted like spring flowers south of my abode. Yikes! The growth continues.

What I discovered upon my return home is that it’s pretty cool to live in a city that is undergoing massive and rapid change and then to see the ongoing results of that change when one is away for some time.

Yes, you can count me as one American who is not at all averse to change. I welcome change to a community. A city that doesn’t change is a city that stagnates.

Princeton is not stagnating.


Princeton ISD crosses its t’s and dots its i’s

Make no mistake about this: The Princeton Independent School District is making a thorough effort to avoid “campaigning” on behalf of a bond issue it will ask its voters to approve in May.

The bond issue is a big’n: $797 million to build eight campuses over the next 10 years. Princeton ISD has compiled a thorough explanation of its request on its website:

Bond / Bond Information (princetonisd.net)

I was fortunate to be able to cover many of the meetings held by the citizens committee appointed to craft the proposal. They took deep dives into the cost of the project; the district’s growth projections; the impact on property owners; and even the names the district plans to attach to the new campuses.

Throughout the process, the committee was made aware of the restrictions the state places on local governments. They are empowered only to inform district residents of what they want to do; they are banned from campaigning for it using public money.

That doesn’t restrict board trustees or senior administrators from offering personal opinions on what voters should do when they go to the polls on May 6. It’s a sure-fire bet they will speak on behalf of the issue … which is OK with me.

The proposal laid out on the website is a thorough examination of the needs of a school system in the midst of a growth explosion.

It’s well done and I applaud Princeton ISD for the work it has done.


Sanity prevails at Princeton ISD

Well now, it appears that the Princeton (Texas) Independent School District board of trustees has stepped away from the slippery slope over which I feared it would plunge.

This is a good thing. The Princeton ISD board announced this week that it will not change fundamentally the district’s policy regarding use of public venues by special interest groups. The policy has been upgraded, according to board president Cyndi Darland, who, according to the Princeton Herald, said that administrators “made great recommendations that we approve of.”

They call it the Facility Use Policy, aka FUP. The adjustments will include some “adjustments” in the rates that groups would pay to use the venues.

The issue surfaced a few weeks ago when trustees questioned whether Princeton ISD should allow certain groups to use the venues. One group intended to rent space to celebrate its “pride” in the community’s gay community. Trustees took the issue under advisement and sent the matter to legal counsel to consider what to do about it.

I am going to presume the lawyers thought better of any notion that the district could ban anyone, or could institute an outright total ban for any group wanting to use the facilities. A PISD spokeswoman said, according to the Herald, “There will be a few rate adjustments and restrictions on certain activities that will be permitted.”

This past year, the issue of a drag show surfaced as a matter of concern. I didn’t see the show, mainly because that’s not my “thing,” if you know what I mean.

The revisions will take effect after spring break, Superintendent Don McIntyre said.

I am one red-blooded Princeton ISD taxpayer who would shudder at the notion of my school district banning anyone from using public facilities, let alone approving a total ban for all groups. These venues belong to us. Think of how Princeton ISD would tell a 4-H group, or a church group, or the Boy and Girl Scouts they couldn’t use these public venues because of resistance to, say, a “Gay Pride” event.

The school district has backed off that silly notion, to which I will offer a hearty hand clap.


Bond issue to prompt big debate

Princeton school district officials want their constituents — such as my wife and me — to spend a lot of money to build schools and perhaps add some more venues that officials deem are necessary to serve a growing district.

The price tag is $797 million, which is the biggest bond issue I’ve ever been asked to approve. For the record, I am going to vote “yes” on May 6 when the issue comes up for a decision.

What fascinates me about this, though, is a reality I didn’t think was possible. The bond issue will not affect the school district tax rate. It will remain the same, even if voters approve the amount of spending that is headed for the ballot.

That doesn’t mean, however, that voters’ tax bills won’t increase. Why? Because the Collin County Appraisal District is going to assess increases in property valuation in the years ahead. It’s a normal occurrence, given the growth that is occurring in this North Texas county … and is damn sure occurring in Princeton.

The tax rate is likely, as I see it, to spur considerable debate among residents. That’s a good thing, to be sure.

As for the total tax bill that Princeton ISD residents could face, that issue is beyond the scope of the school district. PISD officials will need to make it clear that it controls only the rate that residents are charged, but that the total bill remains the purview of the other independent entities.

I was privileged to watch this bond issue take shape from the beginning almost to its conclusion. The PISD long-range planning committee did its job in good faith and given the district’s explosive growth, presented a reasonable proposal to cope with it.

The tax rate will not be an issue going forward.