EducationLocal NewsBelton ISD Told Staff Salaries Would Suffer if Ballot Bond Failed, Per Whistleblower Documents

An implied promise of salary hikes if the bond passes might count as encouragement to vote for the bond, which could violate state law.
June 2, 2022
Documents shared by Belton Independent School District (ISD) leadership suggest the district may have tacitly encouraged staff to vote for a ballot bond, potentially violating state law.

In February, the Belton ISD school board unanimously voted to put a pair of bond propositions on the May 7 ballot.

Literature from community meetings, reportedly presented by the deputy superintendent ahead of election day, lists several benefits and no downsides to passing the bonds. It also says the district would route funds away from salaries if the bonds failed.

The first bond, which will fund the construction of two new elementary schools and other building repairs, passed by 41 votes. The second bond, which will fund technology purchases, passed by two votes.

An implied promise of salary hikes if the bond passes — or threat of salary cuts if the bond fails — might count as encouragement to vote for the bond, which could violate the Texas Election Code.

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Governor Greg Abbott recently announced the state would investigate another school district, Northside ISD, for similar conduct. However, unlike Belton ISD leaders, a principal at Northside ISD explicitly told staff that they were expected to vote for the bond.

Any communication supporting or opposing a ballot measure counts as political advertising under state law. Public employees are forbidden from spending public money on political advertising.

The district communications were obtained and publicized by Corey DeAngelis, a school choice activist who also exposed the Northside ISD emails that Abbott warned could be illegal.

The document regarding staff salaries comes from a slideshow presentation by Belton ISD.

Bonds are debt that local governments can borrow with the permission of the voters. Cities, counties, and school districts across Texas have borrowed billions in bond debt, amassing thousands of dollars owed for every citizen.

Texas school districts may have set a new record for the sheer amount of debt on the May 7 ballot this year, dwarfing the total bond propositions of the last ten years. Voters approved more than $10 billion in school district bonds alone this May.

Belton ISD did not respond to an inquiry by the time of publication.


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Isaiah Mitchell

Isaiah Mitchell is a reporter for The Texan, a Texas native, and a huge Allman Brothers fan. He graduated cum laude from Trinity University in 2020 with a degree in English. Isaiah loves playing music and football with his family.