Updated: LISD spent more than $57,000 for PR mailers

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UPDATE 5/2: On April 5 and April 10, The Lewisville Texan Journal submitted several open records requests for more information related to these mailers and the district’s tri-fold bond-related mailer.  We received three rounds of documents on April 24, 28, and May 2 in response to our request.  The documents from April 24 contained redactions, which LTJ objected to. Documents received on April 28 and May 2 were provided by the district in response to the objection.  Lewisville ISD contends that they have responded in full compliance with the public information act and, despite the initial redactions, they have not nor will they ever attempt to hide information.

Because early voting ends Tuesday and the May 6 election is approaching, we wanted to share the documents received due to their relation to the election and our dedication to providing voters with as much information as possible.

Documents released April 24:

Documents released April 28:

Documents released May 2:

Please note that the above estimated budget contains numbers which were projections.  Amounts shown have not necessarily been spent.  Actual final costs would be shown in invoices. The district was not able to find any responsive information to our requests for information about the lists used for mailing the mailers.

UPDATE 4/11: After clarifying with the district, the final number for the mailers is $57,054.25. The district only sent out two mailers featuring teachers, and the previously reported $9,866.22 for the mailer featuring a Flower Mound High School teacher was just an estimate, with the final number coming in at $7,169.51.

The Lewisville Texan Journal has filed an open records request for documents regarding the most recent, three-page mailer.

UPDATE: The final invoices are in. Everything that’s been reported so far costs a combined $66,920.47.

The mailer talking about the district’s awards, from design to delivery, cost $18,784.26. The mailer talking about the district’s track record of saving money cost $18,394.26. Mailers praising Hebron and Lewisville teachers, which seem to have been sent to different households, cost $12,706.22 and $7,169.51 respectively. It is uncertain whether or not these include the $9,866.22 reported earlier for the mailer featuring Flower Mound High School teacher Angie Greenlaw, and we have asked for clarification.

The district sent out another mailer last week, this one three pages long.


Original Story: Lewisville ISD told a citizen that they do not have purchase orders for the three informational mailers that were sent out from mid-February through mid-March.

The school district sent out three informational postcards to residents. A reader contacted The Lewisville Texan Journal concerned about how much the mailers cost and said she had asked the district on March 1 for clarification on who was responsible for them and how much they cost. Executive communications director Amanda Brim confirmed to the reader on March 8 that she was responsible and on March 9 that one of them, featuring Flower Mound High School English teacher Angie Greenlaw, had cost $9,866 to print, post and send.

The reader questioned the district further on March 20, asking for the purchase orders of the mailers, as well as who was involved in making decisions on them, how many more mailers are scheduled for the school year and how many mailers LISD had sent out in the past three years. Brim said some of those requests fell under public information law.

Yesterday, April 5, legal services coordinator Leah Wingerson said that after a thorough search of records, LISD has no documents responsive to the reader’s request. This would mean the district does not have documentation of the authorization for the purchase of mailers from less than two months ago, one of which cost almost $10,000.

Brim said the district did have documentation, but they were not the specific documents the reader asked for, and once the Public Information Act is invoked, government responses must be very specific to the request. Brim said the final invoice for the mailers had not come in yet, so the exact cost of the mailers is not final.

“Until all of the different pieces are done, I don’t know the exact cost,” she said. “We have a ballpark figure, but that’s not going to be down to the dollar the way that a final invoice would.”

The Lewisville Texan Journal had not previously been inclined to look into these mailers, but the apparent lack of documentation our reader discovered was a cause for concern. The Journal sent out two open records requests in light of this information, asking for purchase orders, bids and invoices from the vendors who produced the mailers, payment receipts to the mailers, the mailing list and the selection criteria for who received the mailers.

12 COMMENTS

  1. Please keep us updated on this. Why was the journal not inclined to look into this at first? Is this not clearly money (collected through tax dollars in good faith that it would be spent on students) misspent?

    • It’s not uncommon for governmental agencies or subdivisions to mail constituents updates on things. Our city mails a quarterly newsletter, and yearly water quality summary. It makes sense that LISD might from time to time mail out updates. An annual report would be welcomed at our house. This particular mailing, we didn’t know what it was about at first, or how often they would come. While I thought they missed a mark in terms of marketing, and lacked a call to action, I didn’t see them as particularly newsworthy. It’s when they get dodgy about it that you think maybe it needs more scrutiny.

      Of course, while we’re talking about it though, we should point out that mailer #3 – regarding finances – was a bit misleading. Yes, LISD’s tax rate is lower now than in 2006. Every single public school district in the state is also lower, since the state took away 1/3 of districts’ taxation powers that year. It doesn’t prove that we’re financially responsible, it just shows that we’re a district in Texas subject to Texas state law.

      -Steve

      • I am with you–an annual report would be great. What frustrated me so much with this one was there was no clear message or purpose. It seems hard to justify the expense of the mailers, whatever it was, for something that didn’t deliver any substantive information.

        Thanks for the reply!

      • Thanks for pointing out the change in taxes Steve! LISD loves their marketing spin to make themselves look better.

        Time to make them be more responsible with our money and our children’s education. I am ready to vote in some new board members who will stop the unnecessary boasting of transparency while they hide what they are spending and doing.

  2. It may not be uncommon for the schools to spend tens of thousands of dollars to send out information they could easily send via email or just make readily available to view online. But that doesn’t make it right. Or the right choice for our children.
    This story made me angry and less likely to donate money to the school. They ask us for thousands of dollars each year to buy MacBooks, musical instruments and other school supplies. I still don’t understand why they need $900 MacBooks that will be obsolete in 6 months.
    LISD is really ticking of this parent.

  3. They could save money by posting the info on their website and disseminating via email. Postage could have been saved by sending the flyer with students. Wasteful spending and now asking for millions more.

  4. The district has also paid for and distributed nice Pop-up banners for the schools to display (online sites estimate these at $200 each for similar styles and hardware) AND expensive brochures have been left at the schools where most will be thrown away after May 6th! What a waste of our money. These thousands and thousands of dollars should be spent on our schools and could have lowered the need for such a high bond if they were more responsible.

    Don’t even mention the Thousands of dollars paid for an FAC mediator in the first place! No wonder we need such a big bond, the School Board is wasting our tax dollars!

  5. That’s only the cost of 3 mailers! What about the latest one I received yesterday? Then there’s the 3 fold mailer from a few weeks ago.

    Oh and the brochures sent home with all kids – causing houses to get more than one brochure to throw away.

    Popup banners at schools and even different brochures to hand out to parents who come to the school.

    Please keep looking into the cost of all that too. And are we really done? Between now and May 4 How very much more do they plan to spend on this bond?

    It would be one thing if the mailers and promotions had new or different information – but is is all the same, over and over, printed and paid for with our tax dollars when it is all posted on the fancy web page the Ad Agency created for them!

    Please dig more and keep us posted. Also note that the same day we received the most recent mailer from LISD we also received an identical mailer from the Vote Yes PAC – same paper, style, font, look and exact same text pasted in place. Did they use the same Ad Agency? Way too coincidental for me!!

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