Image: Text messages sent to parents’ emergency contact telephone numbers on Tuesday, October 1, 2019, through Conroe Independent School District’s emergency broadcast system. The text messages were not emergencies but rather political advertisements in favor of Conroe ISD’s $677 Million bond package.
The Golden Hammer Staff Reports
Conroe, October 2 – Parents of children in the Conroe Independent School District (CISD) are up in arms over the school district’s use of emergency contact telephone numbers for text messaging political messages about the CISD’s‘s $677 million bond package. CISD sent out thousands of text messages in the Conroe High School feeder zone yesterday advertising the bond and asking voters to support it. The text messages included advocacy and referred voters to the website of Conroe ISD which advocates for passage of the bond.
The Golden Hammer received approximately twenty-five (25) complaints yesterday about the text messages from CISD parents all of whom requested anonymity for fear of reprisal by CISD against their children. Several of the parents forwarded the text messages all of which are similar to those shown above.
Additionally, several parents received more than one text message during the day. One parent in particular uses the telephone number only for emergencies and received several text messages from Conroe ISD. He spoke with the staff of The Golden Hammer but requested anonymity. As a result of the numerous text message sounds on his phone, the parent lost his job early today. The parent is married to a CISD employee who reported the incident to this newspaper. The parent only accepts text messages marked as emergencies on his cell phone during his work day. All of the text messages, which caused him to lose his job, came from CISD.
The school district has resorted to utilizing hundreds of thousands of tax dollars that were earmarked for education and the maintenance and operations of the school district for political purposes. CISD is using those funds for political advertising to try to secure passage of the $677 million bond package.
Voters rejected an $807 million bond package on May 4, 2019, largely because that bond package included a three cent tax rate increase. This bond, however, includes a four cent tax rate increase, which Conroe ISD has already implemented by a Board vote on August 13. In other words, this proposed bond package includes a hefty increase in taxes, but the school district is not allowing voters to vote up or down on the tax increase portion of the proposal. As a result, voters will have their only opportunity to turn back those taxes by first rejecting the bond on November 5 and then following that rejection with a later election to replace the current board and roll back the debt service tax rate, which this Board has increased.
This newspaper has previously reported that Conroe ISD has broken the Texas Election Code, section 255.003, by placing political signs and political advocacy on school campuses during this voter referendum. Conroe ISD has also spent several hundred thousand dollars on e-blasts, mailers, and other political messages, even though the source of those funds has been tax dollars intended for education of the children.
As previously reported, Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon communicated with CISD last week and admonished the school district to cease some of those illegal activities.
Additionally, Conroe ISD has made clear to teachers that the teachers will lose their jobs, or not receive promised pay raises, if the bond does not pass. Since the passage of the bond would only impact construction and capital projects, the threat to fire teachers is certainly hollow. Nevertheless the school district clearly has chosen to engage in scare tactics.