Plano ISD trustees approved a $208 million recapture payment for the 2018-19 school year at Tuesday night’s school board meeting. 

But before that conversation, PISD School Board President Missy Bender shed a few happy tears after learning she would be the 2018 Citizen of the Year recipient, a distinguished honor that recognizes a person who’s contributed to Plano’s advancement and achievement over many years.

Surrounded by friends and family, Bender was surprised by Jamee Jolly, CEO and president of the Plano Chamber of Commerce, in front of newly appointed principals and PISD staff members at Tuesday night.

Susan Modisette, director of campus services, welcomed more than 20 newly appointed staff members as new additions to several elementary, middle and high school campuses. 

After the lighthearted celebration, the board discussed recapture, also known as Robin Hood, a system that takes resources from wealthier communities like Plano and sends them to the state education department for redistribution to school districts in need of funding. 

Randy McDowell, PISD chief financial officer, explained the district’s recapture payment has doubled in the past two years, growing about $50 million per year. Increased property values have contributed to the rise in recapture, but Vice President Yoram Solomon said when property values level off, the recapture bubble will burst, leaving PISD in a budget crisis, he said.

If PISD refused to pay its recapture payment, McDowell said the education commissioner would have discretion to detach property values from PISD until the district was no longer considered “property rich,” plus a loss of $4 million in additional state funding. 

After a reluctant motion and second by secretary Nancy Humphrey and Trustee Tammy Richards, respectively, Trustee David Stolle said, “This is a gun-to-your-head motion. You can agree to pay this $208 million or wake up with a horse head in your bed.” 

“With a penalty,” Humphrey added. 

Stolle encouraged voters to press future elected officers and ask them hard questions about their stance on school finance and what they plan to do to reform the broken system.

“We cannot live with this, not one more year. Not one more day. It’s going to bankrupt the district,” he said. 

Bender wrapped up the conversation by encouraging residents to get mad, ask questions and speak out.

Toward the end of the meeting, trustees approved an amendment to district dress code that would require all 9th- through 12-grade students to wear student identification (ID) cards while on school property or aboard any district school buses or district-provided transportation. Each ID has the student’s photo, his or her name, the name of the school and the current school year. 

Based on campus discretion, IDs will be required for any school-sponsored or school-related events, and students must wear the IDs at all times unless doing so presents a hazard to student safety. 

Joseph Parks, executive director of safety and security services, said the IDs are standard at high school and senior high campuses, but the mandate to wear them is a new addition for the district. 

From a security standpoint, Parks is challenged to secure all of PISD’s campuses of all grade levels, and a part of that security is being able to distinguish who belongs at school and who doesn’t. 

“Having the students wear a photo ID is a fast visual cue for the staff to quickly say, ‘That’s a student who belongs here,’” Parks said, so any possible security threats “stick out like a sore thumb,” he said.

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