A handful of big decisions will be made in the coming days that will have a lasting impact on the fastest-growing school district in North Texas.
Early voting ends on Tuesday for the May 6 election. Among many contested races in the city, there are two open seats on the Frisco Independent School District up for grabs.
“This new school board that we elect will not only set the new budget going forward, but they’ll also pick our new superintendent. And that’s very important,” said Joe Widner of Frisco United, a political action committee that has involved itself in school board matters during this and previous elections. “We need that school board in place to make a sound decision for the students and for the taxpayers.”
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Current Frisco ISD Superintendent Dr. Jeremy Lyon has retired effective as of this summer.
Frisco and its school district have seen explosive growth over the last 20-plus years. In 1995, Frisco had an estimated population of 13,850 people, according to the North Central Texas Council of Governments. As of 2017, Frisco’s estimated population had ballooned to 159,920.
As a result, the school district has grown. In 1993 there were four schools serving students in Frisco ISD. As of the 2017-2018 school year, there will be 72 schools.
On May 8, the Frisco ISD board is expected to vote on a series of recommendations that, if implemented, would save the district an estimated $9.5 million.
Among the recommendations is a proposal that would require Frisco ISD athletes to pay to play — $100 for middle school athletics and $200 for high school athletes.
In addition, there are proposed cuts in staffing levels and in spending for extracurricular activities like cheerleading, choir and academic competitions.
Even if the entire list of recommendations is approved, the Frisco ISD faces what is projected to be a $16.2 million deficit in 2017-18 and $17.4 million in 2019-20, according to the district.
“These conversations have been difficult and decisions will not be easy,” the district noted in the Frequently Asked Questions section of its website. “Recommended changes will be felt by both the staff and families. But Frisco ISD remains strong.”
Widner, the representative for Frisco United, said he is in favor of many of the proposed cuts.
“Definitely [we are] open-minded,” Widner said. “In our households, if you’re financially struggling as a household you would pay your rent and you would put food on the table. You’d pay your teachers and make sure the classrooms are set up appropriately to teach these kids.”