Texans pay some of the highest property taxes in the U.S. But not all of those tax dollars are spent well. Case in point: Granbury ISD’s purchase and use of a private plane.
Last week, a WFAA investigation revealed that Granbury ISD, a small North Texas school district with about 7,500 students, had purchased a Cessna Skyhawk last year for $42,000. From their report:
“The goal behind the purchase, the district says, was to get students interested in aviation and to teach them to fly through an aviation program the Texas Education Agency (TEA) offers. While several North Texas districts take part in that TEA program, no other district in the region has purchased a plane to participate in it.”
Troublingly for taxpayers, it’s not just that the district bought a private plane on the public dime—but also that at least one high-ranking school administrator has been caught using it for his own personal gain. Here’s more:
“In June, the district’s plane, which has the registration number N2464Y, flew 250 miles on a roundtrip to Abilene. Days later, Dawson’s daughter, who attends Abilene Christian University, posted on Facebook thanking Dawson and her mother, also a Granbury ISD administrator, for flying out for a lunch visit on her birthday. The district’s plane is clearly visible in the photo Dawson’s daughter posted along with that status update, and Dawson can also be seen in the cockpit of the plane in that photo.”
Adding insult to injury, WFAA discovered that the administrator didn’t even pay for his own gas. Taxpayers did.
“In the month of June, when Dawson took the trip to Abilene with his wife, district records show the Granbury ISD spent nearly $2,000 on [fuel] for the plane. Dawson’s family trip was one of the longest taken that month.”
At a time when public schools should be doubling down on efforts to teach kids to read, write, and do math, some ISDs are putting their finite resources toward other things, like private planes. And water parks. And golf courses. And Jumbotrons. And Taj Mahal high school stadiums.
All things considered, it’s not surprising that property taxes are high when school district spending abuses are rampant.