Flour Bluff ISD spends taxpayer dollars on advertising campign geared towards nearby districts



By Kathleen Herzog and Brady Chandler

Flour Bluff—Last month the Southside Light reported that the Flour Bluff Independent School District has been spending taxpayer money on advertising to promote their district, as families begin to explore educational options outside of their domiciled district.

In a response to an open records request filed by The Light, the district disclosed that they had spent $3,314.72 just this school year alone on three advertising campaigns which include a billboard and two area community newspapers.

The documents show that the district paid $2,500 in advertising to Lamar Outdoor Advertising for a digital billboard along Padre Island Drive near Everhart between March 22, 2019 and April 18, 2019.

The district also spent $439.72 with the South Jetty News in Port Aransas to run an advertisement noting that tuition is now free in the Flour Bluff School District.

In addition, the documents showed that the district also spent $375.00 worth of taxpayer money to run advertisements in the Texas Shoreline News/Saltwater Angler magazine, which Flour Bluff ISD Board of Trustees President Shirley Thornton is listed as the Senior Editor.

“It did sort of surprise me how much of an emphasis was put on marketing to get more students,” says Flour Bluff resident Mark Flores.

He says that he feels that administrators at Flour Bluff ISD are becoming obsessed with recruiting more students from places such as Port Aransas and London.

“To me, it felt like it was a waste of money — no educational value,” Flores said.

But for others, like Susan Anderson this is even more of an attempt to keep students who live on the Island from jumping ship and going to more competitive districts.

“So, you cancel the UP program or change its name or whatever and then drop tuition for out of district transfers then expect kids on the Island to stay around? It makes zero sense,” says Anderson, who is worried more and more about fair representation for all students and their families.

“What this District is concerned with are well-to-do parents on the Island, in the Bluff and just across the bay over on the south side taking their kids to London or Port Aransas,” says Anderson. “You can’t see any other reason for even spending one cent advertising in places like that billboard and over in Port Aransas.”

But will the advertising campaign obviously aimed at attracting both potential transfers from area charter schools be enough? Only time will tell if it will or it won’t. When the 2019-2020 enrollment numbers roll out, that will be the tale of the tape.

While on average, the amount of money spent seems nominal. However, many parents and taxpayers within the district  feel like a penny wasted could turn into a million dollars wasted—and that poses questions all the way around.

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