Coppell ISD parents have established “Project Pinkerton” as part of the Pinkerton Parent Coalition, voicing concerns about the possible closure of the school as preliminary discussion for the May 2023 Bond package has begun.
The Pinkerton Parent Coalition started with several handwritten letters and emails to the Coppell ISD and Bond Steering Committee last week, which demanded answers and asked the school board to keep Pinkerton off the bond, except for renovation purposes.
The parents and students in the “Project Pinkerton” movement attended Coppell ISD’s Community Dialogue last week, and more recently, made an appearance at Monday’s CISD Board meeting. More than 30 parents, staff, and students attended the board meeting, addressing their concern and proposing alternative bond options.
Julie Waters, an attorney and leader for the Pinkerton Parent Coalition, said she had five new bond options that incorporate the high standards of current proposals at a significantly reduced cost, which she was unable to present to the board Monday night due to time constraints.
“This is in hopes that we can work collaboratively together, not just for Pinkerton parents but for all learners in CISD and together with the Board and Bond Steering Committee,” Waters said. “I hope that these new options can be presented to the community at large in an effort to work together.”
CISD has addressed the parents' concerns, stating that the district has been very transparent about the 2023 Bond package.
“To be clear, any future decision to close a particular campus would be made by the Board of Trustees, only after examining the district's needs, operational inefficiencies and the need to balance the maintenance and operations budget of the district,” said Amanda Simpson, Coppell ISD’s Director of Communication in an email. “These discussions are not taking place by Trustees currently, as the Bond Committee’s work is still in progress.”
Among the Bond Committee’s work are discussions about the possibility of upgrades and investments in nine of the district’s “footprint elementary schools” out of the 11. Another possibility is the building of a separate early childhood school due to the growth in the area, which could include a new facility or the refurbishment of one of the nine footprint elementary schools, and parents are convinced it will be Pinkerton Elementary.
During the school board meeting on Monday, members of the Pinkerton Parent Coalition also talked about how long they have been in the district and how they are considering leaving if Pinkerton Elementary were to close.
“All these years, all these options on where to send our children, we chose Pinkerton through it all,” said David Zamarripa, a resident of CISD since 1989. “Not because of the building that it is or a reason that I can list on paper. Above all, it’s our family’s home. Please do not consider any bond option that closes my family’s home.”
A student alumna also spoke during the meeting, stating that attending Pinkerton Elementary prepared her for her current experience at Coppell Middle School East.
“While at Pinkerton, I learned what it means to be an effective learner and positive influence in the community,” Sophie, a 7th grader, said. “I learned characteristics like being a risk-taker, thinker, and more. Learning these things has prepared me for middle school compared to some of my friends from other schools in the district. I am truly thankful for the teachers and the culture that Pinkerton has and hope that the district does all that it can to protect the school that taught me so much. As I know it has lots to offer for the upcoming generation.”
One topic of importance mentioned during the speeches from the Pinkerton Parent Coalition was the International Baccalaureate (IB) program that the school has to offer.
The IB program aims to develop knowledgeable and caring young learners who help to create a better world through intercultural understanding and respect. The program encourages students to become lifelong learners through rigorous assessment.
Rebecca Visconti, a teacher at SMU and a business operations and marketing analyst who has two children at Pinkerton, said after reviewing the data and the bond options presented, she found alternate options that keep all existing elementary schools open. It would focus on pre-K expansion on only two or three of the schools that service the southern boundaries of Coppell ISD.
“This option would be less costly, in other words more fiscally responsible, and would increase pre-K capacity and ensure a more balanced demographic support for the pre-K program,” Visconti said. “It would also increase elementary school capacity rather than decrease it, which options 2B, C and D all result in. And finally it would ensure that we retain an IB program at the elementary level in Coppell. The IB program is an asset to this district and is extremely important to the students and parents of Pinkerton Elementary.”
Community feedback opportunities will continue to take place as the Bond Steering Committee discusses potential bond package options which will be put to a vote in May 2023.