Plano ISD empowers superintendent to make purchases, take other steps in swift response to remote learning needs

Superintendent Sara Bonser has asked for new authority to make quicker decisions as Plano ISD navigates student needs during the coronavirus closures. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Superintendent Sara Bonser has asked for new authority to make quicker decisions as Plano ISD navigates student needs during the coronavirus closures. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)

Superintendent Sara Bonser has asked for new authority to make quicker decisions as Plano ISD navigates student needs during the coronavirus closures. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)

Plano ISD trustees have granted the administration new authority as it navigates the COVID-19 shutdowns.

The board of trustees approved four new areas of authority on April 7 for Superintendent Sara Bonser to give the administration additional flexibility in matters of purchasing, employee pay and donations to local first responders.

The new authorities are temporary and would expire when schools reopen or if the board voted to end them earlier.

Bonser told trustees that none of the authorities were placed in the resolution lightly and that she would use them “with great discretion.” They were intended to allow the district to move more swiftly to meet the needs of students and employees during the coronavirus closures, she said.

Among the new authorities, the board empowered Bonser to make purchases to facilitate remote learning without going through the traditional bidding and approval process, which officials say can take between 45 and 60 days.


The district can also raise pay for some essential employees who are unable to work from home during the closures. The district is eligible to apply for reimbursement for some of these expenses through federal programs, Bonser said.

Trustees also gave Bonser the authority to donate some of the district’s supply of personal protective equipment to local health care providers and police and fire departments.

The administration would be required to report the actions it takes to the board of trustees.

Trustees approved the measure by a 6-1 vote, with trustee Heather Wang voting against granting the additional authority.

Wang said she felt the board could meet more frequently to facilitate these requests without delegating the authority to the superintendent.

But most board members expressed they were comfortable with the measure as constructed.

“I see this as a benign resolution that is ultimately within the control of the board,” trustee David Stolle said.
By Daniel Houston
Daniel Houston covers Plano city government, transportation, business and education for Community Impact Newspaper. A Fort Worth native and Baylor University graduate, Daniel reported previously for The Associated Press in Oklahoma City and The Dallas Morning News.


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