Public Forum Questions
Wylie ISD and the Wylie ISD Board of Trustees have received questions from community members during the public forum portion of board meetings concerning various topics. By law, board members cannot discuss non-agenda issues during a meeting. In our continuing effort for transparency and accountability, we are posting questions and answers for everyone in the community. Please note that some of the questions contain statements that are inaccurate.
Jeffrey Keech (10/24/22)
"Hi, I'd like to start by just thanking Mitch Herzog and Heather Leggett for your service as a trustee. My children and many others have benefited from all your service to this community. When I was about 11, I joined the Boy Scouts and I remember being asked one of the first things I was asked was, how do you eat an elephant? If anyone knows how to eat an elephant? Well, you eat it one bite at a time. So let's say that you know that we want to talk about this flattening the tax rate, what do you call it, no-new-revenue-rate or just keep the taxes next year what they are this year.
In order to do that, you have to start by looking for ways to save money. I'm sure there's at least some waste in a government entity with a $231 million budget. So I think a good place to start and maybe identify some line items in our budget that may not be necessary. Like I’ve seen expenses for $12,000 for T-shirts, $15,000 for a keynote speaker, $10,000 for a different keynote speaker. And I wonder if those are all necessary? Maybe they are. But I wonder if you've looked into those. Or maybe look at the travel budget between July of 21 and April of 22. The district spent about $86,000 on plane tickets, hotel expenses, travel agent fees and conference registrations. I'm sure if we add in the per diem, that total amount is well over $100,000. The district attended conferences in places like New Orleans, New York, Las Vegas and San Diego. In a post-COVID world, I wonder if those travels are really necessary. Then private sector companies all over the world are finding out that no, they're not necessary. In fact, you can probably learn as much or more by attending conferences virtually or taking online training classes. I do believe the district spent about 30 nights at the Kalahari Waterpark Resort in Round Rock. I wonder if that was necessary. I would imagine it’s very distracting there. And I think you could probably get the same amount of learning without having to travel there.
And while we're discussing some of the conferences, let's look at some of the material that was presented at one of these conferences. In the last two years, the ISD sent 13 counselors to the American School Counselors Association annual conference, the opening session for this conference talked about educational equity. There was a session about implementing culturally sustaining anti-racist practices in their work. There was a session about supporting transgender and gender-expansive students. I wonder first they had to define what a gender-expansive student is. And there was also a session that asked what does it mean to be white? One of the answers on the bullet point given was that because white folks don't necessarily see whiteness as a culture, this allows them to think about themselves as individuals and not white. And I don't think that kind of thinking has any place in this school district or any in the country." - Jeffrey Keech
Wylie ISD and the Wylie ISD Board of Trustees remain committed to being good stewards of taxpayer dollars. There is a purpose behind every dollar spent in Wylie ISD.
The Kalahari Resort & Conference Center in Round Rock hosted several education-based conferences this past year. Employees attended these conferences for professional development. While in the past conferences have been offered remotely, many reputable professional development conferences are now in-person events only. Further, in-person conferences allow staff members to network with other education professionals. Some of the district’s more successful initiatives, such as #IHaveAPlanWISD, came from ideas shared at conferences.
Our district encourages employees to seek professional development opportunities, and our school counselors attend such conferences to remain up-to-date on best practices in their field to meet the needs of the students and staff at their campus.
Mr. Jeffrey Keech named only a few sessions out of the numerous breakout sessions offered at the conference. One of the days offered nearly 80 sessions. Sessions included everything from how to “teach exemplary classroom lessons” to “CTE and college readiness.” Our counselors attended sessions that they believe would help them best serve the students and staff of Wylie ISD. A link to the sessions offered at this year’s conference may be found here.
We are not aware of our staff attending the sessions Mr. Jeffrey Keech mentioned. When our counselors returned from the conference, they shared with district counseling administrators what they learned and if there was anything they wanted to bring to their campus or the district. Counseling administrators always vet materials, resources, practices, etc. prior to any campus-level implementation. In the past, our counselors have discovered valuable resources at this conference, such as grief materials, tips for students and families going through a divorce, small group activities for students who have ADHD, and more.
Jessica Fourrier (10/24/22)
"For the past two years, I have been more involved coming to the board meetings, reading all the school emails and really trying to know what's going on with Wylie ISD. My family moved to Wylie because we were told and believed that Wylie was a good school and a conservative city. I believe that Wylie is a conservative city but I think that the Wylie ISD school board and Vinson have fallen short, in so many ways. They have bowed to the woke culture that is ruining schools across America. We should be teaching patriotism in school, how to be proud of our country, how it was founded and how far it's come. We should be teaching Americans to be united and not divided because of their differences. That is not happening, but I think it should and could with the right people making the decisions.
Since the people supporting your campaign the keyboard warriors are so interested in truth in fact, I thought I would share some facts.
Fact number one. You as a board with Vinson, hired Sara Wicht from the Southern Poverty Law Center, paid her $15,000 to come up with the program “Let's Talk” which was to facilitate conversations between teachers and students about white privilege, Black Lives Matter, mass incarceration and police brutality. You did this without consulting parents and ended up wasting taxpayer money.
Fact number two. At the Wylie High School graduation in 2020, Virdie Montgomery asked all students to kneel for solidarity for George Floyd and social injustice. And all of y'all knelt with him. Why on earth would you think that it's okay to teach children about a personal belief that you have my house would never kneel for a criminal that assaulted a pregnant woman, no matter how he died.
Fact number three. In January, I spoke at the board meeting about the books that are obscene in our schools and asked that they be reviewed. None of you emailed me. I asked Jacob Day to check into the book issue at the next meeting and he said he would. I never heard back from him. I've heard y'all say Wylie ISD doesn't have any bad books in their library. That's a lie. The bad books are not just about pornography, but also about CRT and books glorifying teen suicide. Wylie ISD has secretly removed at least six books on this list without communicating with me or posting it on the forum that y'all created to show your transparency.
Fact number four. Wylie ISD is not allowing parents to assist with the book review process, which by state law they're required to do. It does not matter if you yourself consider that you have an established library. That's not real.
Fact number five. I have emailed the entire board at least 15 times in the past two years and I've received either a generic thanks for your email or nothing at all. What does that say for your transparency?
Fact number six. You all claim to be conservative. Even though you say this is a nonpartisan race. Yet you all have voted on, done things that would not support your claim to being conservatives.
[Board President Stacie Smith interjects, “Mrs. Fourrier, please remember that there's no electioneering allowed, this will be your only warning.”]
Fact number seven. Please don't waste my time. I'm gonna keep going. You have been spreading misinformation to the public about the taxes. The tax rate y'all voted on was technically numerically lower than last year. But because of house prices going up so much, you will be getting 11% more from the citizens of Wylie, totaling $16.8 million more dollars than last year. And you knew what the mortgage rates were before you voted. So in essence, you did raise taxes. So in conclusion, you're not transparent. You don't work with parents unless they're patting you on the back and you're not conservative. I will not be voting for you." - Jessica Fourrier
Our district celebrates America, and patriotism is often exhibited at our schools and events. Students in grades K-12 also recognize Celebrate Freedom Week annually in their social studies classes. In May, we proudly shared that our local American Legion group presented a 40-minute program focused on flag etiquette to McMillan Junior High students. Additionally, Board Policy AE(LEGAL) states, “Educators shall cultivate in students an informed American patriotism and lead students in a closed study of the founding documents of the United States and Texas.”
1. The district has made missteps, big and small, over the years. This includes the hiring of Sara Wicht, which the district addressed during the Diversity & Inclusion presentation at the Aug. 21, 2021 Board Meeting (time stamp 34:20-36:05 of the archived video). Ms. Wicht was hired to provide limited training on equity to district and campus leaders, campus liaisons, and the original D&I committee. Yes, Ms. Wicht is associated with the “Let’s Talk” resource. Yes, the resource was shared with a few Wylie High School staff members at a voluntary lunch meeting. However, let us be clear – teachers were never encouraged or directed to facilitate these types of conversations with students.
2. As stated in the Nov. 15, 2021, public forum response to Mr. Michael Schwerin, everyone in attendance at Wylie High School’s 2020 graduation was asked to join with their thoughts and prayers for “those who have lost loved ones due to the coronavirus and for our fellow Americans who have lost their lives to civil injustice.” The graduation reference sheet, which the principal shared with families days in advance, included the following bolded bullet point, “we will have a short ceremony to show unity with our students.” Video from the commencement ceremony can be found here under the 2020 tab.
3. At the Jan. 24, 2022 Board Meeting, Mrs. Jessica Fourrier read an excerpt from “The Bluest Eye” and asked that it be removed from libraries. She also sent an email to the district on Jan. 6, 2021, requesting that the book be removed. As stated in our public forum response, the book was removed from library shelves in Fall 2021.
Wylie ISD and the Wylie ISD Board of Trustees have never issued a statement that said, “there are no bad books in this district.” And, as has been shared with Mrs. Jessica Fourrier in the public forum responses and in a Jan. 18, 2022 email to her from the district’s legal counsel, school districts cannot remove books or deny students access to books simply because an individual disagrees with the ideas the materials may contain. For transparency purposes, the email from legal counsel to Mrs. Jessica Fourrier may be found here.
Books are not “secretly” removed from library shelves. Throughout the course of each school year, Wylie ISD librarians spend time “weeding” books that do not meet collection standards. This is standard library practice. Books are weeded every year for a variety of reasons, including lack of student interest or poor circulation (never checked out), damaged condition, outdated material, and/or to create physical space for newly acquired books. The primary reason for books being “weeded” in our district is due to a lack of student interest/poor circulation. From Aug. 1, 2021 to Oct. 26, 2022, Wylie ISD librarians weeded more than 15,000 books from our high school and junior high libraries.
4. State law does not require school districts to have parents assist with the book review process. Wylie ISD has established libraries – most of our school libraries have existed for decades.
5. School board members acknowledge and forward emails that are outside the board’s purview to the superintendent. The superintendent is directed to respond or ask the appropriate administrator to respond. The purpose of the school board is to govern and oversee the management of the school district, hire the superintendent, set local policy, approve the budget, set the tax rate, and communicate with the community. District administration has answered and addressed numerous emails from Mrs. Jessica Fourrier and her husband Mr. Mitch Fourrier over the past two years. For transparency purposes, email communications sent to the Fourriers from central office administrators and the board president since August 2021 may be found here.
As stated in an Aug. 19, 2022, public forum response, on rare occasions, the district has decided to cease communication with individuals due to repeated emails about the same topic or requests for answers to the same questions. Our first priority is ensuring that our students are safe, learning and thriving, and that our teachers and staff have the support they need to take care of our students. While responding to and communicating with stakeholders is very important, the district cannot continuously divert resources to respond to repetitive questions from a sole person.
6. Prior to the start of the public forum period, Wylie ISD Board President Stacie Smith stated, “Additionally, per Board Policy BBBD (LEGAL), District resources should not be used for political advertising. This includes during the public forum portion of a school board meeting. Please refrain from any statement that either supports or opposes a candidate or measure.”
Wylie ISD is disappointed that Mrs. Jessica Fourrier chose to utilize school district and taxpayer resources for political advertising.
7. The district is not spreading misinformation to the public about taxes. Wylie ISD set a tax rate that is $0.0619 lower than last year’s rate.
Jill Palmer (10/24/22)
"Good evening. First, I want to begin by saying thank you to Heather Leggett and Mitch Herzog, because I know, I understand this is a thankless position. And I know it's hard to be under a microscope constantly, especially when your integrity and character are always in question. I think we all can say we're having issues understanding and, you know, navigating when your integrity and character is being questioned.
So let's talk about that real quick. There was a blanket statement that has been made that there are no bad books in this district. Why then do I have 226 books listed in this document of books are currently in Wylie High or East. Out of those 226, 35 of those were at Cooper, and out of those 226, six have actually been removed.
Which is kind of odd because I know there's a system in place. According to EF local that a parent should be able to submit a form, apparently, in order to get a book removed. Well I know none of the concerned parents have done that. But now, from March 22 to now, six books have been removed, which is great. It's a great step in the right direction. But the fact is, six books actually have been removed, yet my integrity and my character and being called a book burner. Why the secrecy of all this?
Let me just list out the books… “The Bluest Eye,” “Traffic,” “Tricks,” “Lawn Boy,” and the latest, “Me Earl and the Dying Girl” and “L8R, G8R.” These were in our schools, we have the receipts. We have the screenshots of them in our schools. And now as of today, at 5:15 when I checked, they are not there. So six have been removed by this administration. So you're basically proving our point. We came to you as a community with a valid concern. You did not acknowledge it, you actually pushed us aside, and you did it on your own. That's not standing with integrity or transparency or communicating with this district. The books were removed, we have the receipts, so just own it. That's all we want. Just say, ‘my bad, we were wrong and we did it.’ You're basically making our point valid. So in order for you to answer the question on the public forum site, did you or did you not remove the six books and I will list them again: “The Bluest Eye,” “Traffic,” “Tricks,” “Lawn Boy,” “Me Earl and the Dying Girl” and “L8R, G8R.”
And please be honest, don't manipulate your answer based on whatever training you were given by our taxpayers to pay for the Marguiles Group and answer in truth and honesty and with integrity." - Jill Palmer
Wylie ISD and the Wylie ISD Board of Trustees have never issued a statement that said, “there are no bad books in this district.” Nor has the district referred to Mrs. Jill Palmer as a “book burner.”
Books are not “secretly” removed from library shelves. Throughout the course of each school year, Wylie ISD librarians spend time “weeding” books that do not meet collection standards. This is standard library practice. Books are weeded every year for a variety of reasons, including lack of student interest or poor circulation (never checked out), damaged condition, outdated material, and/or to create physical space for newly acquired books. The primary reason for books being “weeded” in our district is due to a lack of student interest/poor circulation.
From Aug. 1, 2021 to Oct. 26, 2022, Wylie ISD librarians weeded more than 15,000 books from our high school and junior high libraries. Many of the books referenced by Mrs. Palmer were weeded.
As stated in the Jan. 24, 2022, public forum response to Mrs. Jessica Fourrier, “The Bluest Eye” was brought to the district’s attention in Fall 2021 and was reviewed and removed at that time.
Michael Schwerin (10/24/22)
"Thank you. I would also like to start by thanking Heather and Mitch and all the rest of you all for your support and for your tireless work. As others have said that is, it’s a thankless job. And as we continue to learn over the last several months, that it is truly challenging when your character and your integrity is constantly attacked. So I want to thank you all for your service, especially Heather and Mitch, since y'all are retiring this year. So thank you.
I do also want to talk a little bit about facts, though, since that sounds to be really something that's important in our community right now, which I think it is. It really is important. I think one of the things that's important to be a factual thing to talk about is that no one, I don't think there's a single teacher, a single person that's spoken at a board meeting last two years, objects to the greatness of Wylie ISD. We all moved here for that reason, most of us if we weren't born here and raised here, we'd moved here for that reason. It is a destination district. And no one denies that our teachers are some of the best teachers in the state, and administrators are the best administrators in the state. I think we've all agreed upon that. I think we can all also agree that when you are great, you should also be focusing on what you can do to become better. And you should always be focusing on what you can do to be better. You always have that grit to improve yourself and always look about the people coming up behind you, the districts coming up behind us that are trying to get better than we are. And so I think on that mindset, we need to look at the facts of what's happened over the last two years. And looking at what has happened whether it was two years ago with the start of the diversity and inclusion program.
It was started in a lot of hindsight or a lot of hidden areas that we didn't know when we hired a consultant, as was mentioned earlier, that we didn't know about, that was fairly radical. And even when we came out, and when parents came out and spoke in April of that year, it took six more months before you all decide to put it on an agenda to have that conversation. But there was no discussion about it. It was just a simple report, and no actual questions about what we should do and should we actually have this in our district. And now it's kind of slowly disappeared and gone by the wayside with no D&I director or not really much movement since the pillar meetings last year. So I think it's at least we're grateful that we've put that forward. And we as parents have helped improve our district in that way.
Another thing that’s been raised up is the books. And I do hope as Jill and others have said that I guess I pray for you all to be careful and be mindful because you're probably going to call book burners, book Nazis, as we have, as we bought up and discuss this because you all have removed six books from the library. There are almost 200 more that you need to remove. So let's keep on going. And I think the last thing, again, is taxes. You can reduce taxes. Yes, it's gonna be hard, yes it’s going to be complicated, but you can and you choose not to. Thank you." - Michael Schwerin
Mr. Schwerin is right. We are a destination district, and we are proud of the work we’ve done, however, it’s important that we continue to look for ways to improve and not remain complacent. Every day, our district works toward being the best district we can be. We are always asking, “how can we communicate better and partner better with our families and community?” “How can we improve our processes and procedures?” “How can we learn from our mistakes and experiences?” “How can we learn from other districts?” District and campus leaders meet nearly every day to discuss and create plans for these very issues.
Will we always get it right? No, but that won’t stop us from trying.
Our students are remarkable young people who attend our schools to receive an exceptional education. But school is about much more than academic achievement and the classroom walls. It’s about the relationships that students build with their teachers and with each other. It’s about the friendships formed on the playground and the experiences that transcend the classroom, whether it’s marching in the band, playing on the football field, or pursuing a passion in floral design or video production. It’s about the excitement on students’ faces during the Bulldog Boogie or Wrangler Roundup and the pride felt when yelling “AHMO” or “DUBEAST.” School is about the basics—reading, writing, math, science, and history—but it’s also about every student feeling a sense of belonging when they walk through our doors. In Wylie ISD, school is about the Wylie Way.
Our teachers, paraprofessionals, counselors, nurses, administrators, and other support staff put in hundreds of hours to ensure the needs of each child are met. Our facilities, student nutrition, and transportation departments work hard to ensure students are in safe buildings, fed nutritious meals, and transported safely to and from school and activities. Our central office works to keep the district running and take care of the things teachers shouldn’t worry about, like payroll and maintaining records.
We serve more than 18,500 unique students, employ 2,500 staff members who are experts in their fields and answer to more than 70,000 community members and taxpayers. There will always be differences in opinion, but these differences help us grow.
As a public entity, our community must ask questions, get involved, and hold us accountable. However, we will not allow what this district has accomplished to be diminished by assumptions or presumptions that we’re not striving to improve or be better.
Not everyone will agree with all the decisions we make, but rest assured, anything we do is with students at the forefront—they are our future. We will continue to follow policy and procedures, adhere to the law, remain good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and work hard to be the best school district we can be. We are proud of Wylie ISD, and we hope our community is too.
The D&I program has not gone away. The D&I director title was updated to employee relations to better reflect the day-to-day duties of Mr. Reggie Bibb. D&I still falls under the employee relations umbrella, as does transportation, substitutes, investigations, Title IX, and more.
As we shared in the Sept. 19, 2022, public forum response to Mrs. Jill Palmer, Mr. Bibb communicated to Mrs. Palmer in August that the district was working on an update to share with pillar committee members at the end of the fall semester.
As shared in other Oct. 24, 2022, public forum responses, the district did not “secretly” remove books.
For the 2022-23 school year, Wylie ISD set a tax rate that is $0.0619 lower than last year’s rate.
Dawn Shallow (9/19/22)
“Tonight I'd like to talk about numbers. The first number is the number four. That number four is the number of years that you've served on the school board. This is also the number of years since you held your hand and took your oath of office. I want to talk about budget numbers. When you took your office four years ago, the Wylie budget was $172,563,585. You increased the budget in 2019 $20 million. You increased the budget in 2020 $5.4 million. Reasonable. You increased the budget in 2021 $16.7 million, and you increased the budget in 2022 $16.7 million. That is an addition to the $190 million bond package.
Today, four years later, our budget is $231,480,148. In the last four years since you've been in office, the budget has increased $58,916,563. That's a budget increase over four years of 34.14%. Let's talk about student enrollment numbers. These are based on the number you provided to the TEA. Four years ago, when you took office, we had 16,459 students enrolled. In 2019, that increased 703. In 2020 that increased 258, and in 2021, that increase 735. And in 2022, increased 581. So today, after four years in office, we now have 18,736 students enrolled. In four years, that's an increase of 2277 students or an increase of 13.31%.
So let's review those numbers again, Wylie ISD budget increased 34.14% in four years, student enrollment increased 13.83% in four years. Here's another number point .0000001, as in one cent, think in terms of cents, that's exactly the number you kept the budget under so that you didn't have to call for a public election. You increase our budget $16.7 million. If you had raised it one more cent, we the public would have got to vote on that. But the final two numbers I have are 35 and 50. 35 represents the number of days until early election on October 24. And 50 represents the number of days until the election on November 8. Thank you.” -Dawn Shallow
Wylie ISD’s budget growth is in line with the rapid increase in student enrollment the district has experienced the past several years. Additional students mean additional personnel, specifically teachers – the district strives for smaller class sizes and the state prohibits class sizes that exceed 22 students at the elementary level without state-granted permission. Personnel costs make up the vast majority of the district’s budget at approximately 84%. Other overall rising costs also contribute to the budget’s growth.
Since 2018-19, Wylie ISD has increased personnel allotment by:
75 instructional paraprofessionals (these staff members support students and teachers in the classroom)
7 clerical paraprofessionals
43 auxiliary positions (transportation, student nutrition, maintenance)
5 campus administrators
12 campus professionals (counselors, nurses, librarians)
15 district administrators (e.g. payroll director, purchasing director, student services director)
33 district professionals (the vast majority are learning or special education specialists who spend most of their time on campuses)
How was a dollar spent in Wylie ISD in 2021-22?
$0.55 - teachers, school staff and instructional supplies
$0.18 - debt payment
$0.08 - building operations
$0.06 - district
$0.04 - transportation
$0.03 - student nutrition
$0.02 - safety
$0.02 - curriculum and training
$0.02 - extracurricular activities
The district and school board remain committed to being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and ensuring students receive the best educational experience possible.
Michael Schwerin (9/19/22)
“Thank you. I come tonight as I do on most nights speaking as a parent, as a parent of a special needs child. And in the mindset of asking you why you're not continuing to support the special ed department. Having talked with many parents, paraprofessionals, and teachers in the special ed department over the last several months, I've actually learned that there are deficiencies in this department. While at the board meeting last month, you decided to spend lots of time asking absurd questions about paper clips and markers and whether or not we have enough money to buy paper clips and markers. And not actually talking about things that matter like the special ed department and ensuring that our special needs students are cared for and honored.
I also come speaking as parents that are too afraid to come and talk and speak here tonight. Out of fear and intimidation by the school board and by this district. They don't want to be singled out online by a dubious page that's set up for people that are speaking here this evening. They're too worried about maybe misspeaking, as I did one night several months ago and accidentally said billions instead of millions, and then was called a liar. You know, you're too worried about that and making yourselves look good, rather than actually focusing on actually doing good things and want to actually try to be the best district in the state and be the first one to reach the no new revenue rate, instead of just saying, ‘no one else is doing it, so why should we?’ And I think it's really important to make sure that we're not being singled out. And not singling out and attacking parents, just because they may misspeak or they may disagree with you. I'm also speaking for all the teachers and paraprofessionals, and the staff in the community that I've run into over the coming cut last several months that feel they can't say what they want to say, for fear of losing their job or their position. That's a scary place to be in. As a nonprofit executive who has managed a team, I would never want any one of my team members to feel scared to say something because they might lose their job. And that should be a shame on all of you for allowing that kind of fear and intimidation to be out there and to be here. You shouldn't be maybe more focusing on making yourselves look good and actually focus on why that's happening, why so many teachers are leaving this district the last couple of years, the numbers have skyrocketed. I'm not going to give the exact number because I might misquote myself and then I'll probably be called a liar tomorrow. And I'm also speaking for all the children in the district. All those that come from families who are struggling to make ends meet, the families I meet on a daily basis who are struggling to decide whether they put food on their table or pay their tax bill or pay their rent or pay for utilities. Those are the people that are hit the hardest by your choices in spending and choosing to overspend. They're the ones that have to make those tough decisions and have to look at moving out of the district because they can't afford it as even some actual staff members of Wylie ISD have told us that they had to move out.” -Michael Schwerin
Our district pours as many resources as possible into special education and is always looking for ways to improve. Special education services range from students needing specific instructional accommodations to behavioral programs.
Last school year, our district received more than $15.2 million in state funding for special education. The state requires that districts spend 55% of that funding toward special education (approximately $8.3 million). Our district spent more than $18.1 million specifically toward special education in 2021-22 – more than $9.7 million over the requirement. We are very committed to ensuring that our students who require special education services receive the care and support they need. Whether it’s adding more special education learning specialists, behavioral therapists or partnering with other entities to better provide for our students with extreme behavioral needs, we will do whatever it takes for our students.
We created this public forum page in November 2021 after requests from community members. At the Jan. 24, 2022 board meeting, Ms. Michelle Gilliam asked in public forum, “Will you please post the answers to these on the school board page?” Her other questions and our responses may also be found on this page.
The district would not call or refer to a stakeholder as a liar – we clarified to the public that the district has millions in debt, not billions. The district wants all of its stakeholders to be equipped with accurate information and will correct misinformation, especially when the misinformation is said in a public forum and could be perceived as a fact. For transparency purposes, here is the email Dr. Vinson sent Mr. Schwerin on March 16, 2022, about our debt and the billions' comment. Additionally, the district’s official response may be located on this page under, “Michael Schwerin (02/28/2022).”
The number of teachers leaving Wylie ISD has not skyrocketed. Every year teachers leave the district for various reasons such as health, new opportunities, moving, etc. There are some cases in which staff may leave due to being dissatisfied, which is why our district places an emphasis on retention efforts, but this is a reality every organization faces. Our retention rate for teachers is between 85-90%, something we are very proud of.
Kevin Brooks (9/19/22)
“Madam President, members of the board. My reason for being here tonight is simple. The system is broken. It is broken and it lies in a state of disrepair and has been for quite some time. The reason it is in disrepair is because you have abdicated your responsibility to be the watchman on the wall. Your responsibility to be the wall that protects our most precious commodity, our children. You have failed. You have failed our children. You have failed our schools. You have failed our educators and you have failed our community. You are not accessible to the electorate. You do not return phone calls. You do not return emails. Yet you raise taxes every year, even this year, to the point to where it would not have to trigger an election, just short to where we the people would have to vote on the increase. People are leaving Wylie ISD for cheaper and sometimes greener pastures and that should not be. You are the masters of misinformation when you continually and repeatedly state Wylie ISD is subject to recapture also known as Robin Hood when we are not. You treat the electorate with what can best be described as disdain and as a nuisance if we are not in agreement with your plans and policies. The electorate sets the vision for the district and votes in the board that supports the direction they want for the district. The board takes that vision to the superintendent for implementation within predetermined parameters and budgeting. The relationship between the electorate, faculty, staff and administration, and the board should be one of an alliance and not an adversarial one, one where the faculty and staff and electorate are silenced and held hostage by the administration and the board. One where they're having to teach political correctness of what we see in societal decline on display 24/7 on television, and the web with no say in the matter. Both current and former educators have zero confidence in the board. We the people assure them that that will change. Being labeled as fascist, book burners, book banners and red shirts we proudly wear we the people. Whereas on your shirt, you state only your names, playing to see your primary focus looks back at you from the mirror, but it's all about the kids. In closing, you're all a disappointment, but that can be fixed, that needs to change, and that will change, if you vote. Thank you.” -Kevin Brooks
According to our records, Mr. Kevin Brooks has never reached out to the Wylie ISD Board of Trustees President Mrs. Stacie Smith or Dr. David Vinson. The only current trustee Mr. Brooks has reached out to about a concern is Mr. Bill Howard. Mr. Howard pointed him to the campus principal and Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, Mr. Scott Winn. On a public website, Mr. Brooks stated, “After talking with Coach Howard I wrote a letter and sent it to Coach, Scott Winn and Beth Craighead. They were all awesome!”
The board and district administrators respond to emails, return phone calls and meet with stakeholders. We typically try to respond to emails or return calls within 24-48 hours. If a parent or community member has reached out to the district and not received a response, we request that they send a follow-up email. Additionally, while board members welcome emails from all stakeholders, oftentimes, questions or concerns are ones that can only be addressed by district staff. To ensure questions or concerns that are outside the board’s purview are addressed, board members will acknowledge the communication and then direct the superintendent to respond.
In rare occasions, the district has decided to cease communication with individuals due to repeated emails about the same topic or requests for answers to the same questions. Our first priority is ensuring that our students are safe, learning and thriving, and that our teachers and staff have the support they need to take care of our students. While responding to and communicating with stakeholders is very important, the district cannot continuously divert resources to respond to repetitive questions from a sole person.
Mr. Brooks is correct, our school district is not subject to recapture.
Randi Jackson (09/19/2022)
“Good evening, I want to start off once again by saying a continued and genuine thank you for maintaining the parent's right to choose when it comes to medical freedom. And I want to just how we got here. There's a lot going on right now. And to those just now getting involved, it may come as a shock that there are those in our community that are unsatisfied with representation as parents, teachers, or taxpaying citizens. Now, we ended up hearing from a lot of different causes that piqued our interest over the years. For me personally, it was the struggle my special needs child went through and the regression both academically and socially from the mask mandates, which I know initially was not a district mandate, but others have similar stories, but with different issues that are close to their hearts. And notably, what has been very interesting and frustrating is that the more and more parents and citizens have been getting involved, seemed like the first knee-jerk reaction was to circle the wagons and limit our speaking time from five minutes to three minutes. Because either there wasn't a lot that you were hearing that you were liking, or simply following the lead of similar districts that were hearing from their constituency and weren't liking it. So, you know, that tendency to follow what others are doing is not from what I understand, leading as in the Wylie Way. Now, when we did start getting involved, we had gotten, you know, the idea and the impression that haven't gotten so not used to such a diverse community of involvement, the Board of Trustees and administration got used to doing their own thing and didn't seem too keen on being questioned. Being under tougher scrutiny seemingly led to what appears on the outside to be defensive behavior and dismissive attitudes towards those of us who refuse to stop pushing for transparency in our district. So that commonly perceived attitude is what has brought us to where we are today. It won't be easy going forward because the way things have been is no longer acceptable. It means that Wylie ISD needs to step up and it's going to take change. It's going to take determination, and it's really going to take courageous leadership. Thank you for your time.” - Randi Jackson
The Board of Trustees and administration welcome questions and feedback from the community, no matter if it’s a concern, complaint, or compliment. We are disappointed to hear that Mrs. Randi Jackson believes the district is not transparent or that we are dismissive toward stakeholders.
Mrs. Jackson does not have children who attend Wylie ISD schools, but as a community member, her involvement and opinion matter to us. Dr. Vinson met with Mrs. Jackson for an in-person meeting on Nov. 10, 2021, for approximately one hour to discuss questions and concerns. Dr. Vinson requested her questions in advance of the meeting so he could adequately prepare and ensure he addressed her concerns. For transparency purposes, email communication between Dr. Vinson and Mrs. Jackson regarding the Nov. 10, 2021 meeting may be found here.
Mrs. Jackson also reached out to Mr. Matt Atkins on Nov. 12, 2021, to schedule a meeting. Mr. Atkins, who served as Board President at the time, replied the same day and offered dates and times to meet with her. Mrs. Jackson did not schedule a meeting with Mr. Atkins. For transparency purposes, email communication from Mr. Atkins to Mrs. Jackson about meeting may be found here.
Additionally, current Board President Mrs. Stacie Smith reached out to Mrs. Jackson following the August 2021 board meeting, and the district also communicated to Mrs. Jackson about the virtual learning option and other matters. For transparency purposes, those email communications may be found here.
Jill Palmer (9/19/22)
“Good evening. I want to begin by saying thank you, President Smith, from the last board meeting, I think it was really great to pull a consent agenda item forward after you saw or you heard public comments. I think it's really great to have real-time engagement, which is very important. It kind of builds on the transparency. With that being said, I'm going to piggyback on what I spoke about last month, I kind of explained about two items that the community that was involved and was part of the solution came together with the D&I pillars to figure out some action points that we want to see for 22-23. I did reach out asking for those TNA to figure out what's going on. Still don't have them. And we're like, what month two and that started the school year? We have no TNA on those initiatives. But I'm starting to connect the dots because it seems from multiple insiders in this district have basically confirmed that the D&I program no longer exists. Whether that's true or not, I do not know. But that's the communication that's coming from inside your district. So if that's the case, what were we doing last year? What was the point of those pillar meetings? If you want to shy from controversy and not speak out, and actually implement the communication of what that program means going forward? Like, what are we doing? So I'm gonna leave you with a question and two follow-ups. One, does the D&I program exist? Yes or no? Follow-up two. If it doesn't, where did that funding go? Where did it get reallocated? And three, if it got rebranded, got put under a different umbrella… is it Title IX? Because according to state legislature, once a designator of the Title IX coordinator title is designated, the district must notify applicants for admission and employment, students, parents and legal guardians, employees, and professional organizations holding professional agreements with this district of the name of the said coordinator. We haven't received any confirmation of what that means for Wylie ISD. So for those of you watching online who see just a red shirter, who are not listening to the question I'm asking that brought on a culture war in this community, does the D&I program actually exist? I'll leave it to you to answer.” - Jill Palmer
The D&I program exists. It has not been rebranded nor is it considered Title IX. The Title IX coordinator role is separate from D&I. The Director of Employee Relations role encompasses multiple areas including D&I, Title IX, transportation, investigations, and more.
Mr. Reggie Bibb, Director of Employee Relations, has communicated with Mrs. Jill Palmer several times regarding the D&I program and most recently on Aug. 23, 2022. In that communication, Mr. Bibb shared with Mrs. Palmer that the district is working on an update.
Last school year, the D&I pillar groups focused on creating an outline of ideas and action items for the Human Resources department and district to focus on. The final meeting of the school year was in May 2022. The district has implemented some ideas brought forth by the committee at the employee level. Mr. Bibb shared this information with Mrs. Palmer. The district plans to share an update with committee members at the end of the Fall 2022 semester. We believe it takes at least a semester to determine if efforts are successful or not. Some of these include our “Why Wylie” video series and leadership focus groups.
Regarding Title IX and federal and state law, Wylie ISD updated its website to reflect the new Title IX coordinator, information about the new Title IX coordinator was in the August 2022 board meeting packet that is available to the public, the Title IX coordinator is listed in the employee handbook, and public notice of non-discrimination was published in the July 27 issue of the Wylie News. The district has fully and adequately fulfilled its legal requirements for communicating the Title IX coordinator. Mrs. Palmer stated, “We haven't received any confirmation of what that means for Wylie ISD.” It means that Mr. Bibb is the Title IX coordinator and should an individual need to file a Title IX complaint, they will contact Mr. Bibb or the Human Resources department as noted on the district’s website.
Jarrett Erwin (8/15/22)
“According to the Texas Comptroller's Office, the combined school tax rate for those residing in Wylie ISD is in the top 5% of tax rates out of over the 1550 public schools in Texas. I was unable to attend the recent budget workshop meeting on May 16 but watched the recorded posting online and was very disappointed. I want to encourage every Wylie ISD taxpayer to watch this recording to form your own opinion. It was disappointing that several elected trustees seemingly showed how little they actually know about the budget and the tax rate. The school board themselves is not actually saving the taxpayers 6 cents, just 2 months ago the school board committed to an 18% increase which was later adjusted to an 11% increase only because property values were about half a billion less than anticipated. Please stop portraying that you cut the tax rate to save us money.”
“Additionally, Wylie ISD is not one of the 150+ schools in Texas that are subject to recapture which means we do not send our local tax dollars to the state to fund other schools. As stated in the budget workshop by the presenter, Wylie ISD is headed in that direction but would require a vote by the taxpayers to be implemented.”
“There are millions of dollars of our tax money that our elected trustees are responsible for and it seems some of our trustees don’t know the basics of our taxes and where our money is even spent. I recognize that this is a complex issue but how is that possible? I believe it's possible because our trustees aren’t involved in the process of setting the budget and tax rates which is a primary purpose of the job they were elected to do. I’m disappointed in the deception of the administration with a perceived goal of confusing the trustees and the public. Again, I encourage everyone to watch the May 16 board workshop recording. This is our local government. Where is the accountability for this wasteful spending? There doesn’t seem to be any. Wylie ISD taxpayers and voters want more and we deserve more, we want fiscal sanity restored within Wylie ISD and make no mistake this can be done without cutting teacher pay.” - Jarrett Erwin
Wylie ISD is heading into 2022-23 with a lower tax rate for the fourth consecutive year and a balanced budget, while still providing employees a raise and accommodating for the expected student population growth. It’s also important to note that 84 percent of the district’s budget is for payroll expenses, with 60 percent going directly toward those in the classroom.
Wylie ISD school board members are very involved in the budget process and understand the complexities of school finance. Trustees are also longtime homeowners in the district and are committed to being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars. Wylie ISD and several other Collin County school districts have higher tax rates than other districts across the state due largely to rapid student population growth. Collin County districts such as Prosper, Community, Princeton, Anna, and Royse City set higher tax rates than Wylie ISD in 2021. For the full list from the Texas Comptroller’s Officer of the 1,015 school districts, please click here. Note: 1,550 are listed due to school districts spanning multiple counties.
Wylie ISD and other Collin County school districts are growing at a rapid pace while other districts are maturing and losing enrollment.
Trustees and the district are proud to offer an exemplary educational experience to students while remaining good stewards of taxpayer dollars. In fact, in the 2022 Texas Education Agency accountability ratings, Wylie ISD and each of its 20 campuses received an ‘A’ rating – Wylie ISD is the only school district in Texas with more than 10,000 students to have the district and all campuses earn an ‘A.’
Additionally, preliminary reports show that Wylie ISD will receive an ‘A’ in TEA’s 2021-22 School Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) ratings. What are FIRST ratings? From TEA: “The state's school financial accountability rating system ensures that Texas public schools are held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices and that they improve these practices. The system is designed to encourage Texas public schools to better manage their financial resources to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes.”
Regarding recapture, Wylie ISD is not yet subject to recapture or what the public may know better as “Robin Hood.” What is recapture?
“Chapter 41, Education Code, was repealed. House Bill 3 amended the Education Code to transfer certain sections from Chapter 41 to Chapter 49, and revised formulas used to determine excess local revenue under the FSP by adding Subchapter F, Chapter 48, Education Code, Section 48.257, Local Revenue in Excess of Entitlement. This section of the Texas Education Code (TEC) makes provisions for certain school districts to share their local tax revenue with other school districts. These provisions are sometimes referred to as ‘share the wealth’ or ‘Robin Hood’ plan because recaptured funds are redistributed by the school finance system to assist with the financing of public education for all school districts.”
Wylie ISD anticipates being named a recapture district in the years to come. Mr. Jarrett Erwin is correct. A vote by taxpayers is required to decide how recapture fees are paid. However, should the vote not pass, the State of Texas would detach properties from the school district, reducing property values to ensure the district would not be subject to recapture. The detached properties would be reassigned to another school district and those property owners would be taxed at that district’s rate. Additionally, students living in those areas would go to school in the new district. Under current law, these properties would be permanently detached. The biggest concern of losing such properties would be a possible increase on the interest and sinking tax rate.
Kevin Brooks (8/15/22)
“Like many parents, I absolutely fell in love with Wylie ISD. My wife and son came from Brazil and I knew Dallas ISD was not for me and I moved immediately to Richardson ISD, followed quickly by a move to Wylie ISD. Also, like many parents, I left the politics and the admin stuff to the professionals. We entrusted people like you to do the right thing and what is best for our kids. That has turned out to be one of the worst decisions I have ever made. My 12-year-old daughter has been harassed about the colors she wears and being told that she must be LGBTQ. She was so upset about it, she came to me and I asked what she should do and asked me what she should do. I told her not to worry and daddy would take care of it. And I proceeded to make another mistake by trusting a school counselor to handle it by speaking to my daughter. He called me and tried to explain to me that we need to be accepting of all kids’ choices and I cut him off and I stated, ‘what you need to do is be the adult. You need to tell that young lady that’s giving my daughter a hard time that those meetings start at 3:31 because my daughter leaves at 3:30. And that the LGBTQ stuff is for after school, not during school.’ Well, nothing has changed. In fact, I began to look into it as I discovered even more discrepancies and feelings and the goings on in and around Wylie ISD. I do not have time to address them all here, but I will address a few. There is a principal that said it takes a village to raise a child. No sir. Stay out of my kids’ lives and focus on educating children. Please leave your social commentary and your social media accounts and me and my 12-year-old alone. I did not ask you to indoctrinate my kids to become social justice warriors. You were hired to teach. So teach. Reading, writing, arithmetic, science and civics.
There are sexual activities in the bathrooms, according to people that I’ve spoken to. Drug use, girls sitting ‘cooch to cooch’ in the hallways. Teachers I have spoken to that state they do not have the support of the administration and know these things, but say nothing because of fear of their jobs.” - Kevin Brooks
Bullying and harassment are not accepted or tolerated in Wylie ISD. Students are encouraged to tell a parent, staff member, or trusted adult if they’re having an issue, and if students witness such acts, they are also encouraged to report them. More information, including the district’s bullying incident form, can be found here.
Wylie ISD believes the education of students is a partnership and shared responsibility between schools and parents, and the district respects a parent’s right to make decisions about their child. Students spend a significant amount of time in school, and we are committed to teaching them and ensuring they are safe and secure while in our care. Wylie ISD serves all students.
Every school year, students and parents sign the Student Code of Conduct which explicitly outlines the district’s expectations for student behavior. There can be serious consequences for failure to abide by the code of conduct. The following is the acknowledgment form students and parents sign:
I have read, understand, and agree to abide by Wylie ISD's Student Code of Conduct for the [school year]. I understand that [student name] will be held accountable for the behavior expectations and disciplinary consequences outlined in the Student Code of Conduct. I understand that the Student Code of Conduct governs all behavior at school, at school-sponsored and school-related activities, during online or other remote instruction, during school-related travel, or while traveling in a vehicle owned or operated by the District. I also understand the Student Code of Conduct governs some designated behaviors occurring within 300 feet of school property, some designated behaviors occurring off-campus, including certain electronic communications and postings, and any school-related misconduct regardless of time or location. I understand that a referral for criminal prosecution is possible for certain violations of law.
Campus staff diligently monitor hallways and bathrooms. However, like the thousands of school districts across the country, Wylie ISD is not immune to students making poor choices on campus, and we need our families’ help to maintain a positive learning environment. We can’t do this alone, so partnering with our families to ensure an educational environment that’s conducive for all students is crucial. If families know about specific, concerning incidents, we ask them to notify their principal so they can be investigated. The district also encourages parents to have conversations with their children about making good choices while at school.
Mitch Fourrier (8/15/22)
“I sent all of you, plus several on my left and my right an email on January 28. Twelve of you total about Granbury ISD removing 125 books for review. I sent you a color-coded book list explaining GISD’s reason for review of the removal of the books. I received, out of the 12 that I emailed, I received one reply that was from Ms. Spicer that said you guys were looking into it. After several months with no response about the book list, after one of these meetings I spoke to Mr. Day, and kind of made him aware of it. He said he’d look into it. Again, I got no response. This issue has been brought up numerous times in these meetings to you just like I’m standing now by concerned parents, again no response.
About a week ago I searched the online library for both high schools and found that almost 100 inappropriate books were still there. One book from the GISD list was removed, but the rest weren't. Some books not on the GISD list were found in the LGBTQ section of the online library. On top of that, new books are still being added. Two of which I saw “She Gets the Girl” by Alyson Derrick and Rachael Lippincott and “All My Rage” by Sabaa Tahir. So some questions, what did you find while you were looking into it? Why haven’t you been transparent with what you have or haven’t found? Why is there an LGBTQ section of the library?
You should be neutral, not pushing an agenda. I asked you in the initial email and I'll ask you again. I asked you what the Wylie Way meant to you. Because that’s a phrase that you all put out there. Is this the Wylie Way? I expect more from all of you.” - Mitch Fourrier
For transparency purposes, email communication between district administration and Mr. Mitch Fourrier regarding library books may be found here.
Regarding Granbury ISD, the district reviewed 131 books and returned 116 books to library shelves. Of the 15 books not returned to shelves, only 3 of the books were removed for sexually explicit content or illustrations (not including five previously removed books). The remaining 11 were either lost and not in school libraries, incorrectly listed and not in school libraries, and/or duplicate titles on the original review list.
Our district cannot remove and deny students access to books simply because an individual disagrees with the ideas the materials may contain. However, Wylie ISD will always review books brought to its attention and determine their educational suitability. If an individual chooses to challenge an instructional resource, they are encouraged to follow Board Policy EF (LOCAL), which outlines the process for the reconsideration of instructional resources.
Our students’ parents also have the option to review books and let their student’s campus know if they believe there is material not suitable for their student, so the campus can ensure those books are not checked out by that student. The district also provides parents the ability to view books their student has checked out from the library via the Wylie ISD mobile app.
In Wylie ISD, books are only categorized by fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, etc. in libraries. Books may be more specifically categorized or tagged within the third-party online catalog.
Jeffrey Keech (8/15/22)
“School enrollment was 13,360 kids in 2012 that increased to 18,650 in 2022, that’s an increase enrollment increase of 5,200 students or 39 percent. The Wylie ISD budget increased from $117 million in 2012 to $231 million in 2022. That’s an increase of $113 million or 96 percent. So in summary, in the past 10 years, student enrollment has increased by 39 percent and the school budget has increased by 96 percent, more than double. Of course, when discussing budgets over multiple years you have to consider inflation rates, so according to the inflation rate, taken directly from the Bureau of Labor Statistics website, for those years I mentioned, it [inflation] ranged from .8 percent in 2014 to 7 percent in 2021. So the cumulative inflation rate for those years was 23 percent plus the 2022 rate. So I don’t because we don’t have the finished rates for 2022 I’m just gonna focus on the years from 2012-2021. Student enrollment in those years increased by 35 percent. The budget increased by 82 percent. So if this school district was limiting the budget increases to the rate of inflation plus student population growth which is a very fair way to do budgeting. The cumulative budget increase from 2012-2021 would have been 35 percent growth plus 23 percent inflation rate or 58 percent. That equates to a budget of $186 million for the 2021-22 school year. In actuality, the budget went up 82 percent to $214 million. So the difference between a 58 percent increase and an 82 percent increase is $28 million. According to the US Census Bureau, there were 15,730 households in Wylie in 2020 an increase of 530 from the year before, so if you extrapolate that to 2021 that’s roughly an estimated 16,260 households in Wylie in 2021. What that means is that from 2012-2021, the school budget grew to be above the enrollment plus inflation rate by $1,755 per household. Meaning every household in Wylie that pays taxes is paying an additional $1,755 because the budget has been out of control for that entire period of time.” - Jeffrey Keech
One of the board’s top priorities is to be good stewards of taxpayer dollars. The Wylie ISD Board of Trustees and district administration develop its annual budget to ensure it meets the needs of all of our students. Each budget cycle is unique and presents its own set of challenges but the end goal is to be conservative and ensure our staff has all the tools necessary to provide our students with the very best education. The board is proud of the educational experience Wylie ISD provides given the resources that the state funding formulas dictate.
As stated in Board Policy CE (LOCAL), budget planning shall be an integral part of overall program planning so that the budget effectively reflects the District’s programs and activities and provides the resources to implement them. In the budget planning process, general educational goals, specific program goals, and alternatives for achieving program goals shall be considered, as well as input from the District- and campus-level planning and decision-making committees. Budget planning and evaluation are continuous processes and shall be a part of each month’s activities.
The above analysis by Mr. Jeffrey Keech does not take into account funded and unfunded mandates, the cost to upgrade facilities, new programs provided to students and benefits to staff. All things not accounted for in the inflation rate.
Michael Schwerin (8/15/22)
“Now I understand the proper roles of a board of directors, which is similar to a board of trustees and staff or administration. In these instances, the board, you all seven elected officials are the ones that set policy. And the staff is there to implement that policy. You all also give the budget guidance and the staff implements the budget and creates the budget based on that guidance. Of course, this is all involving staff in staff involvement in those processes but you seven are the ones that make those decisions and I still can’t understand why the seven of you have decided to abdicate that decision and give it all to the staff administration.
In fact, when I asked at the beginning of the year, calendar year, I reached out to each of you about setting the no new revenue rate, effective tax rate. I received things like, ‘money is given to the state and it’s not, it’s not all returned.’ Which wasn’t true. It’s really confusing. We need to rely on our staff. If, and then there was also the implication that it was because staff, because property values were rising, was why our taxes were going up, which again was not true. After being told multiple times that it was really confusing and really difficult, I went to work studying. I learned. I listened. I talked to others. Things that I wish that you all would of done. Cause I noticed there were no questions from you all about reducing spending from you, since January when the budget process started. No discussion about are these costs accurate and should they be done when we’re looking at the economic situation that we’re in when people are seeing their rents doubled because of inflation, because of the property taxes that you all are presenting to them. Why not? Why are you, instead of doing that, you’re complaining and calling us, calling those who are asking questions terrorists or red shirts instead of actually doing your job and doing your hard work?” - Michael Schwerin
The Wylie ISD Board of Trustees provides budget guidance and governs and oversees the management of the district. District staff ensures the board’s goals, vision, and policies are carried out efficiently and effectively.
Wylie ISD’s overall tax rate has gone down each year since 2018-19. Property values have rapidly increased in that same time frame. With skyrocketing property values, even with a lower tax rate, it is likely that property owners will still pay more in taxes. For transparency purposes, email communication between Mr. Schwerin and board members may be found here.
Tax Rate Information
The district has not referred to any stakeholders as “terrorists.” As always, the district welcomes input from stakeholders and communicates daily with parents and community members.
It is also important to remember that board members are district residents who pay taxes too. The recent ‘A’ state accountability and financial integrity ratings for the district are an indication that the board and staff are spending taxpayer dollars wisely, with a return on that important investment in better education for our children.
Aleksandra Rolfson (8/15/22)
“One of the items on the agenda is interlocal cooperation agreement for governmental services for the I guess overtime pay for our SROs, I have no problem with that, that Wylie ISD is going to be sharing overtime pay with the city of Wylie. However I do have a problem that if you look at the whole document which is supposed to be filed with the county, I assuming is supposed to be filed with the county, and the bottom is for a person to sign it, and it has the city manager and the city manager is listed as Chris Holstead. He hasn’t been our city manager for a while. So don’t tell me you gonna be voting a-p with the city manager that’s now no longer there because this document isn’t getting amended. Another thing on the agenda is item H request to change regular school board meeting dates. Your subject line has October, November, December, January and February due to the student holidays. If you go and look through the agenda packet, November is left out, so you have conflicting information. You have in the subject line October, November, December, January and February and more detail, but November is not there. So is this how our administration is writing this, I mean come on.. if nothing else you’re educators all of you. You can at least get the months straight and in one paragraph or four lines. I would appreciate it if you look through this consent agenda and make sure we don’t file wrong documents with the county and open ourselves to a lawsuit.” - Aleksandra Rolfson
As the document states, the Memorandum of Understanding is an agreement between Wylie ISD and the City of Wylie. This document is not filed with the county. This particular MOU is a living document and was initially created while Mr. Holstead served as city manager. Nonetheless, the City of Wylie is updating the document to reflect the current city manager.
Regarding the school board dates, the meeting information packet released to the public was updated sometime between its release and the board meeting to fix the error. From time to time, information packets are updated before meetings to rectify errors or include additional details.
Jill Palmer (8/15/22)
“This proud, red shirter’s question for you to add to the website so you can answer. What is your plan for executing the two most important action points from our DE&I meeting [creating training for district administrators on being consistent on how we address and execute and follow up on discipline issues so that we have consistency across the district. Creating a plan for how we can communicate our discipline reporting policies and procedures and what the process looks like from reporting to investigations to the follow-up with affected students, staff and families], that should of already been put into place, and it’s day three of the new school year and nothing has been done. That is the only answer I'm going to accept on its website.” - Jill Palmer
Last school year, following the referenced D&I meeting, the Student Services department was notified of the concerns discussed in that meeting. This past spring, Student Services held discipline training with campus administrators, conducted discipline training with other staff over the summer, and held additional training during back-to-school professional development. Additionally, campus administrators were recently reminded to ensure that they communicate information about disciplinary matters in a timely and effective manner with impacted students, their families, and staff. We are committed to addressing and communicating disciplinary issues in a consistent manner.
District and campus administrators will continue to regularly meet to review procedures and processes to ensure students and staff remain in the best possible position to succeed.
Randi Jackson (8/15/22)
"According to the Wylie ISD organizational structure, the top of the chart says students, parents and community members of Wylie, then the board of trustees, and then the superintendent of schools. In reality, it seems to operate in the exact opposite fashion. From what I personally have witnessed the superintendent provides the vision and the board rubberstamps the agenda with only cursory questions that are superficial and refuse to openly discuss options in a manner that includes and informs the public. Over one hundred unanimous votes in a row. On everything from tax rates and budgets to controversial programs and supplies. While the majority of consent items are standard like employee contracts and reports, that doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be open and transparent discussion of the necessity for each item. From the perspective of parents and the community of Wylie, our concerns and inquiries are little more than an irritating inconvenience to the real top of the chart. And the board of trustees seems to feel stuck in the middle. What we need is courageous leadership, what we need is a board of trustees that understands that they're elected by the community of Wylie to set the vision for the district. And that it is the duty of the superintendent and their administration to bring that vision to fruition. When I started attending these board meetings, I had the highest hopes of the leadership of the board would shine through. And instead, I have felt like an unwanted intruder of the status quo. The way things are, the way things have been, we go by the policy with a refusal and actually an ardent disinterest in changing that policy, that you have the power to change, isn’t good enough as an answer anymore. Following policy isn’t good enough, following what other districts do isn’t good enough, following the primrose path toward the corruption of our education system isn’t good enough." - Randi Jackson
The Wylie ISD community elects the Board of Trustees. The board provides budget guidance and governs and oversees the management of the district. District staff ensures the board’s goals, vision, and policies are carried out efficiently and effectively. To learn more about the Wylie ISD school board and its role, please click here.
Michael Schwerin (6/20/22)
“I’d like to start by correcting a few comments I heard tonight. This budget isn’t frugal nor is it saving six cents on the tax dollar. It actually still is 21 cents more than the no-new-revenue rate, which means every single one of us as taxpayers are still paying more money to Wylie ISD in the new budget than we were this year currently.”
“When we ask to meet with you and you’re not able to speak to us or refuse to speak to us, then it makes it very difficult for us to express our concerns. You shouldn’t be afraid of us, we are here to be willing and helpful, and I really just wish you would look at that and look at considering lowering that rate down to the no-new-revenue rate to help us all out here in Wylie ISD.”
“You’ve said that you’ve asked specific questions and concerns about things, and I will ask for a PIR on that because I’ve been told that before because there are certain things when people aren’t asking questions, board members aren’t asking questions, it’s because they’re talking to administrators and assistant superintendents individually. Of course, when I ask for public information requests on those emails, there were none for the months that I asked for.”
“I do think it’s telling that we need to have more consideration, more conversations about that and making sure that is the first step [about campuses involving law enforcement]. Because even though that’s said, even having talked to other parents in the district, I’ve been told that multiple times from other parents..." [continued in dropdown]
Dawn Shallow (6/20/22)
“How do you justify Wylie ISD having 2300 employees plus, and yet only 50 percent of those employees are teachers? It’s all about the education right? But the other 50 percent is administrative and support staff.”
“What specific cuts have you asked the various departments to make? Did you ask them to cut 10 percent off each department or did you even ask at all?”
“How do you justify spending $25,000 to send all 7 of us, Dr. Vinson. Dr. Spicer to San Diego for five days, staying in a $300-a-night hotel rooms with all expenses paid. Did you cut that from the budget for next year?”
“How do you justify paying our superintendent of only 20 schools the same salary as the Chicago superintendent who has 600 plus schools?”
“How do you justify cutting the budget when it comes to our children’s safety and security?”
“How do you justify an operating budget that spends thousands a month on staff breakfast, lunch, and eating out locally in Wylie?”
Aleksandra Rolfson (6/20/22)
“Speaking of the bank statements, I don’t think it’s right to send redacted copies when unredacted copy was asked for. Secondly, the ISD charged the person $18 for unredacting something they redacted the first time with a bunch of sticky notes.”
“Student transportation proposed budget is .73% less than last year. How is that going to work if the fuel is rising and fleet is rising? Did you ask that question?”
“Where is the 3 percent cut in security coming from?”
“Dr. Vinson said there’s not going to be any new programs proposed. I listened to all the workshops today. I had 10 hours at work to listen to all that. There’s not going to be any new programs coming up as adopted under the new budget. One of the things you can cut is the D&I program." [continued in dropdown]
Jeffrey Keech (6/20/22)
“The board voted to spend a million or so dollars on Chromebooks for first through third graders. The vote was 7-0 in favor, and I don’t recall anyone questioning the current or future costs or the validity or need for first graders to have their own Chromebooks in school.”
“From July 2021 to April 2022, the school district spent $6,300 on room charges for what I think was 28 nights at the Kalahari Resort in Round Rock. Now I know that’s only $6,300 out of an ISD budget of $200-something million, but still, it’s a waterpark. After all the remote learning for the past years that have gone on in schools across America, was it necessary to go there? Could stuff have been learned remotely?”
Jeffrey Keech (5/16/2022)
“...So in summary, there were 25 teachers in the school and nine full-time staff members that were not dedicated classroom teachers, so 74% of the school was a dedicated classroom teacher [regarding Mr. Keech’s former middle school, grades 3-8]. I went online and I looked up Groves staffing for comparison. There are six kindergarten teachers, six first-grade teachers, six second [grade teachers], six third [grade teachers], and seven fourth-grade teachers." [continued in dropdown]
Michael Schwerin (5/16/2022)
“For the last year plus, we haven’t been considered as partners. In fact, we have been considered as enemies. And that shouldn’t be what it is. We are all here together, and we have one thing, like the gentleman said at the presentation, that we are here to ensure the future of our children and the future of our community and entrusting our taxpayer dollars. We want to work with you and we want to work together, but when you call us enemies and terrorists and..." [continued in dropdown]
“There was one thing that became glaring that I noticed at the meeting. That we are not subject to recapture, so we do not have funds that are going to the state, so we actually could look at doing the no-new-revenue rate. I appreciate that you did lower the rate, you’re looking at lowering the rate but not going down to a no-new-revenue rate is a concern, and it can be done." [continued in dropdown]
“We brought several issues forward this year, and nothing has been done. Have you looked at the books that were read during the February board meeting? No.”
Dawn Shallow (05/16/2022)
“We’ve heard a lot tonight about community revenue, talking about how much you can bring into the school. Well, let’s talk about how much you can cut from the school. How much can you cut from expenditures? How much can you cut from going to a conference and spending $18,000? Well, let me tell you, the corporate world doesn’t send seven people to a conference. They send one or two and they have that person go and bring the information back." [continued in dropdown]
Michael Schwerin (03/21/2022)
“We continue to increase the taxes and increase our tax rate bills. Not lowering it to match the inflationary rate of our property values. In fact, while we were sitting here, I did a quick calculation. Our 2018-2019 school year budget was $171M and this year, the current budget is $214M. That’s an increase of $43M, about a 25 percent growth." [continues in dropdown]
“I appreciate your questions and your concerns during the budget presentation and budget workshop, but I thought it was quite interesting to see that one focus was left out during the budget workshop questions. Not a one time was there ever a consideration for the taxpayers, for myself as a taxpayer, for every other taxpayer in this organization.”
Jessica Fourrier (03/21/2022)
“I’ve reached out to all of you on multiple occasions, I helped vote for some of you to get y’all into the seats that you are in, and yet, I can’t even get responses from you. You blame it on, ‘well everybody can’t talk to each other at the same time because there are all these rules.’ Even if I email one of you, you don’t email me back, or it’s some generic, ‘thanks for your email, we’ll get back to you soon,’ But you don’t.”
“If you think that’s not happening, look back at the emails I’ve sent or my husband has sent, or the other parents that are concerned have sent, and it’s very easy to see that there are no responses. If I’m getting a response from the lawyer, don’t even bother because he doesn’t know what’s going on and his responses are stupid.”
“I’ve gone to a pillar [D&I] meeting. I missed the last one, I wanted to go to that too. I don’t really see what the Diversity & Inclusion program… I still don’t get what we’re trying to do with that. It seems like a waste of money. And if we’re trying to cut money, then that should be cut out. Just forget about it because it’s not doing anything.”
“Then why can’t you be more like the [local] superintendent who has gone against the liberal parents, the ones that want lesbian and crazy books in the library, sexual books? They cut it out, got rid of them.”
Jill Palmer (02/28/2022)
“...In reading through the policy, it seems that the superintendent actually reports to the Board of Trustees. Yet the current behaviors and authoritative attitude from the said superintendent, it seems the Board of Trustees reports into you [the superintendent].”
Michael Schwerin (02/28/2022)
“As you’re going through the budgeting cycle this year, looking at the effective tax rate, the M&O rate, and looking at how we can do that [adopt an effective tax rate]...the City of Wylie did it with their funds [without affecting their services]. They’ve actually had an effective tax rate for many years, and it’s been successful. And I would encourage you to do that. And maybe then we can look at tackling the over $446 billion this school district has in debt, and that was as of 2019."
Randi Jackson (02/28/2022)
“Only local sources were used for the payment on the debt this year of just over $37 million. I don’t know any particular laws or regulations regarding what sources of funding are available or can be used to pay down debt but very interested to learn if anybody wants to reach out to me about that.”
“I did notice we paid over $5 million down on the debt this year than last year but was there any increase in the total debt from last year? If so, how much? I know it’s highly unlikely, growing at the rate that we are, that we can be debt-free. But I think I can speak for all of us that we want our district to be financially responsible and less debt is better. So, is there a way to manage the growth without perpetually increasing the debt?”
“Of the $170 million in the general fund, the local sources of revenue accounted for only 47.3 percent of the funding, which means the combined state and federal sources of revenue account for 52.7 percent of the funding. Only 1 percent of that is from federal sources, most is from the state." [continues in dropdown]
“When a $1M for third-grade Chromebooks, after a brief presentation and a few half-hearted questions, gets pushed through, the state testing does seem to be more important. What about 504 or other special-needs children that test better on paper?" [continued in dropdown]
Jarrett Erwin (01/24/2022)
“Why does this continue to happen [have meetings ‘behind closed doors and away from public meetings’]?”
“Why does the school board refuse to put important items that affect all of us on the agenda and discuss them in an open, honest, and transparent manner?”
“Why are all concerns directed to individual, one-on-one meetings? Is it so the answers can be tailored to the person asking the questions?”
“Why will the answers to our questions not be discussed openly?”
Jennifer Bradley (01/24/2022)
“Here we are nine months later and still asking 'what has been accomplished with D&I?'" [question continues in dropdown]
“Why have 17 teachers left the district?" [question continues in the dropdown]
“When will the school board start attending the D&I pillar meetings and holding the administration accountable about putting these meetings online?”
Michelle Gilliam (01/24/2022)
“Will you please post the answers to these on the school board page?”
“When are you going to put monitors in the bathrooms at schools so children can once again not feel awkward walking in on someone vaping marijuana or having sex in the stalls?”
“How will April Cunningham, Director of Communications, improve communication to the parents and taxpayers?”
“When will the school board vote to update policies that allow pornographic material? Where has the decency gone? Are you even aware of the sexually explicit books in our high school libraries?”
“When will an anti-bullying campaign become high priority again?”
“When will the superintendent start meeting with groups of parents instead of individuals?”
“When are you going to scrap this whole D&I program? When will it be openly discussed? Why are you, the school board, allowing this political program to be pushed out by the Superintendent? The community does NOT want a program that characterizes students by their race. Where is the transparency?”
“When will our time for public speaking return to 5 minutes?”
“When will important topics like these and others we have brought up be added to the agenda so the board can openly discuss?”
“When will the board start sharing their personal opinions instead of remaining silent?”
“Do you support the Texas Association of School Boards?”
“When is the district going to address having 200-300 high school students being stuck in the cafeteria during class time teaching themselves with one teacher because they have no classroom teachers or subs?”
Aleksandra Rolfson (01/24/2022)
“How is Wylie ISD measuring D&I’s effectiveness if there are no follow-up surveys?”
“When was the last time you held Mr. Vinson and Wylie ISD accountable? Example: I am president of the Riverchase gated HOA here in Wylie. On November 2, the transportation coordinator reached out to us asking for more remotes to get in our gates. Here we are January 24, bus drivers still don’t have remotes. Do any of you know anything about that? I highly doubt it.”
Jessica Fourrier (01/24/2022)
“I initially learned about two of them [books] and sent them to you, the board and Dr. Vinson, an email asking that they be removed from the libraries." [question continues in dropdown]
“Parents also should be notified when their kids are checking out books and what books they are checking out in the Wylie ISD libraries.”
Randi Jackson (11/15/2021)
“What, if any action, is the district independently taking on this [regarding possible inappropriate books in the library]?”
“There are some potential violations of the Texas Open Meetings Act. For example, consultation with legal counsel. Unless in a closed session, you are directly speaking about a current or pending litigation or settlement, that is not allowed to be listed on the executive session exemptions for the executive session. It goes the same for all the other exemptions.”
“I had no idea [that the Chew & Chats program falls under D&I]. That kind of information would help to build that bridge and bridge that divide and get that healing that the Board is feeling they want from the public.”
Michael Schwerin (11/15/2021)
“There are no agenda packets that we get to see unless we actually ask for it.”
“You’re not sending out information [regarding D&I stakeholder group meetings] and purposely keeping the parents and the community out of it by the way it’s been set up.”
“We’ve heard multiple times that Wylie ISD has not or never will do anything dealing with CRT, but yet we saw a picture of you all kneeling during a graduation ceremony and kneeling with the injustices, which again is part of CRT.”
“The cartoon assignment that was sent out home last year, who the personnel that was responsible for it, is still employed and working and teaching in the district and has made further comment about continuing to teach CRT language.”
“There are at least three books that we found in the libraries that I know of that have very inappropriate behavior, inappropriate themes for children.”