Partnering with the pros

Part II of Wingspan’s in-depth look at Frisco ISD’s joint ventures including the city, the Cowboys, and colleges


Cooper Ragle

Tracing its start to 1903, Frisco ISD has transformed from a one school district, to one of the biggest in the state with 42 elementary schools, 17 middle schools, and 11 high schools. During the course of its growth, the district has formed partnerships with several different entities including the Dallas Cowboys, the city of Frisco, and Collin College. In this special report, Wingspan takes a look at these partnerships at what they mean to the district and its students.

Frisco ISD and the city of Frisco have grown up together.

In 1990, the city of Frisco had 6,100 residents.

In 1993, Frisco ISD had approximately 1,933 students attending four schools.

In 2000, the city of Frisco had 33,000 residents while Frisco ISD had 7,234 students.

By 2010, the city of Frisco had tripled its growth to 116,000, while the district quadrupled its enrollment to 37,043 students.

By 2020, Frisco’s population had increased to 200,509, with Frisco ISD’s enrollment at 63,493.

Over the course of 32 years, both the city of Frisco and Frisco ISD have seen some of the fastest growth in the country.

In the eyes of Frisco’s mayor, Jeff Cheney, Frisco wouldn’t be what it is, without Frisco ISD.

“The school district is our number one recruiting tool,” Cheney said. “You know, when I go around asking people why they moved here, that’s the number one answer that I get, that there’s great schools here in Frisco. It’s undeniable.”

The role the school district plays in the attraction of Frisco is not only limited to families. Many businesses have been attracted to Frisco because of the successful public-private partnerships between the city of Frisco, FISD, and private entities.

The Star is used often by the district, with many events through the year hosted there such as ISM showcase, football games, and graduation. (Frisco ISD)

“We have mastered the public-private partnership. Not many cities can do that, and Frisco does it really well,” Cheney said. “We work really well with our school districts, so our school district is actually our number one partner. When we look at a project, we look to work with them. And so our ability to get things done, where other communities cannot, is attractive.”

Part of Frisco ISD’s ability to work with the city of Frisco on large partnerships, such as a performing arts center, PGA Headquarters, and the Ford Center, comes from a TIRZ, a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. The TIRZ is a special taxing district that takes any growth in property value, and places the tax revenue from that growth into a separate account for use on future projects.

The TIRZ, and partnership with the city, has resulted in many projects, such as the home of the Frisco Riders minor league baseball team, Toyota Stadium, and notably, the Ford Center. The Ford Center is one of the most well known parts of Frisco, and it came to fruition due to the alignment of needs amongst FISD, Frisco, and the Dallas Cowboys.

“Frisco is one of the highest growing communities in the country and we decided as we were going through the process to get somewhere that it would be more than just your typical practice facility,” Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President Stephen Jones said in a previous interview with Wingspan. “Frisco is one of the top growing communities in the nation…. and when it was all said and done and we were able to pick a spot that we felt like that would be the best opportunity.”

The partnership with the Dallas Cowboys was a momentous feat, and it was unknown whether future partnerships could match the scale and success. Recent partnerships, such as the PGA Headquarters and the performing arts center, proved that Frisco remains a strong partner for various entities.

“We’re able to attract the Dallas Cowboys, and then now that we’ve just had so much experience with it, when you go to an entity like the PGA of America, then they say, okay, we know Frisco’s a can-do city, someone who you can get something like this done,” Cheney said. “It’s a place where people want to live, it’s a place where people want to invest their money, and certainly do business with.”

The PGA Headquarters is Frisco’s next up and coming partnership, and once again, it serves to fulfill the needs of Frisco, Frisco residents, and FISD students.

“The PGA benefits students because it’s a professional organization that will let Frisco’s kids explore new opportunities in sports,” boys’ golf team member sophomore Kaden Crocetti said. “Frisco’s large community, and all the new people coming in, makes it a great place for the PGA and I think that it will change the way students in the city view golf by letting them do stuff they’ve never done before.”

While this partnership is one of many that students in Frisco have access to, the vast opportunities presented by the public-private partnerships is a unique advantage for students in FISD.

“This is yet another example of the public entities in Frisco coming together with private partners to provide unprecedented experiences for young people,” Frisco ISD Board of Trustees John Classe said in an interview with FISD. “The opportunities available to students in Frisco ISD are simply unmatched in Texas and across the nation. We’re excited about what this partnership means, not just for our students, but the community as a whole.”

Partnerships move beyond sports

Outside of sports, the city and district have also worked together on a new performing arts center. The center will be home to a main performance hall with 1,250-1,500, a community venue with 250-350 seats, a parking garage with 1,100 parking spaces, and a 5-acre park. Sophomore and art student Eva Soto is excited about the opportunities the performing arts center has to offer.

“I think the Performing Arts Center gives fine arts kids an opportunity to expand their horizons and will help people like me meet others who share their interests,” Soto said. “I also think a lot of people don’t take art very seriously, and I hope that the center will make people realize how important fine arts are in the community.”

Along with Soto, Frisco ISD Superintendent Dr. Mike Waldrip hopes to see the impact of the performing arts center extend into the broader community.

The district has already set up a partnership with PGA allowing student golfers to be able to use the brand new headquarters. (Frisco ISD)

“Frisco ISD looks forward to collaborating with the City of Frisco and Craig Hall on a development that will benefit students, the community and taxpayers at large,” Waldrip said in a FISD news release. “Voters entrusted the District with bond funds for a new fine arts facility in 2018, and we are eager to expand student opportunity with even more collaborative performances, events and competitions.”

The variety of partnerships that are brought to Frisco and participated in by the city and the school district serve not only to benefit the students and residents, but to also contribute to the greater atmosphere of Frisco. The city provides residents with a multitude of educational, athletic and recreational opportunities, and gives many, including Mayor Cheney, a feeling of accessibility and variety within their home.

“I love the Sports City USA, I love how we’re getting into more arts now and becoming more well rounded,” Cheney said. “I need to work on my golf game before the PGA opens here, but you know, there’s a lot of things to do and I love to hear from people that they love their Frisco bubble, meaning that they feel like they never have to leave Frisco to get everything they want.”