Do’s and Don’ts: Communicating about the May Bond
In February, the Austin ISD Board of Trustees adopted an order calling a bond election for May 11. Austin voters will be asked whether or not to authorize the school district to issue up to $892.2 million in bonds, which you can read about on the district’s bond homepage.
As the May 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. If you have questions about bond communications, please contact the AISD legal office at 414-1706 or the communications team at 414-2414.
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:
- (a) 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.
As an AISD employee DO:
- Provide factual information in English and Spanish
- Provide factual information about the scope of the projects, including costs
- Provide factual information on voting times and locations
- Provide factual information on student growth, performance data, and condition of facilities under consideration
As an AISD employee DON’T
- Don’t use district funds or resources to advocate for or against the bond.
- Don’t advocate for or against the bond using district time.
- Don’t use the district’s communication systems, including e-mail, telephone, and text messaging, to advocate for or against the bond.
- Don’t allow a third-party to distribute promotional materials advocating for or against the bond in district facilities during district-sponsored events.
Need more info?
Contact AISD's legal office at 414-1706, or the Department Communications and Community Engagement at 414-2414, for additional information.
The district offers a comprehensive website with school-by-school information about the bond. A hotline also is available to provide information about the different propositions: 414-BOND