Do’s and Don’ts: Communicating about the 2017 November Bond
This article was written specifically for Austin ISD employees.
The Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees unanimously approved a November 7, 2017 bond election for $1,050,984,000, which would bring 21st century learning spaces to students without increasing our tax rate.
This bond is designed to modernize or construct 16 new campus facilities, some of which will be replacement schools. It is also planned to update campuses with capital improvement projects. Some key projects included in the bond proposition are:
- Districtwide improvements to technology for teachers and students; transportation upgrades,
- Improvements to address overcrowding and critical needs, and
- Reinvention programs for 21st century learning.
As the November election approaches, the Department of Communications and Community Engagement would like to provide a reminder about what schools, the district and employees can and cannot communicate about the bond when using district resources.
As you know, state law prevents districts from using public funds or resources, including intercampus mail, district facilities or AISD-sponsored events, to advocate for or against a bond. School districts and their employees only may communicate factual information about the bond.
Please review the information and guidelines below on the do’s and don’ts of communicating about the bond.
Knowing the Law
The law that dictates how public funds can or cannot be used for political advertising, such as advocating for or against a bond, can be found in the Texas Election Code. Section 255.003 in the code stipulates that:
- An officer or employee of a political subdivision (school district) may not spend or authorize the spending of public funds for political advertising.
- (b) Subsection (a) does not apply to a communication that factually describes the purposes of a measure if the communication does not advocate passage or defeat of the measure.
- A person who violates this section commits an offense, which, under this section, is a Class A misdemeanor.
Do’s and Don’ts
To better understand the intent of the law, please review the following examples of what you, as an employee, can and cannot do when communicating about the bond.
DO: As an AISD employee you MAY:
- Provide factual information obtained from the district in English, Spanish or another language.
- Provide factual information obtained from the district about the scope of the projects, including costs.
- Provide factual information obtained from the district on voting times and locations.
- Provide factual information obtained from the district on student growth, performance data, and condition of facilities under consideration.
DON’T: As an AISD employee you MAY NOT:
- Use district funds or resources to advocate for or against the bond.
- Advocate for or against the bond using district time.
- Use the district’s communication systems, including e-mail, telephone and text messaging, to advocate for or against the bond.
- Allow a third-party to distribute promotional materials advocating for or against the bond in district facilities or during district-sponsored events.
Need more info?
Contact AISD's legal office at 512-414-9813, or the Department Communications and Community Engagement at 512-414-9595, for additional information.
The district offers a comprehensive website with school-by-school information about the bond, visit www.AISDFuture.com to learn more. A hotline and email address are also available to provide information about the bond: 512-414-9595 and firstname.lastname@example.org.