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Sign Ordinance Question and Answer (November, 2007)

Question: Why does the school district want to be permitted to leave its electronic marquees on past the 6 p.m. time that was allowed by the city of Frisco Planning and Zoning Commission?

Answer: In order to better utilize the marquees and communicate with our parents and the community regarding school events and issues, we believe a later stop time is necessary.

Below is some background information regarding marquees at the schools:

  • Frisco ISD has had lighted monument signs at EVERY campus in the district for years.
  • The existing “white” signs generally stay on all night, including those in residential neighborhoods.
  • Information on the existing signs must be changed manually, which can result in “stale” or outdated information.
  • The district is always trying to improve the communications to its parents, students and neighbors. These signs are part of that effort and cost between $7,500 and $12,500 per campus. They provide a more timely form of communication, while also reducing the amount of light generated by the signs. This was done in part due to requests of parents and PTA’s in our district. The digital marquees can communicate more information and are also better able to communicate changing information in an emergency situation.
  • With the new technology, the district is able to vary the intensity of the red LED signs, (which is not the case with the white ones) and we do so at sundown, reducing the amount of light being generated by 50 percent.
  • At no time are we using scrolling signs or strobe effects.
  • The city’s ordinance allows the digital marquees on major thoroughfares, so the district sought a variance to allow the marquees at its other schools that are located off of major thoroughfares. These marquees are also allowed in the other communities where we have schools – Little Elm, Plano and McKinney. The Planning and Zoning Commission granted the variance to have the marquees in areas other than those located on major thoroughfares, but limited the time they can be on from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.
  • The Frisco ISD is working through the appeals process to be able to use the digital marquees until 10 p.m. at the elementary schools and 11 p.m. at the middle schools. We believe that the evening hours are an important time for communicating, with many of our parents coming home later than 6 p.m. and others driving to and from our schools for evening events, particularly at the middle school level. We do not feel that the 6 p.m. cut-off is adequate considering the expense of the signs and the expectations of our parents.

The City of Frisco and Frisco ISD enjoy a relationship that is unparalleled and it has enabled both entities to leverage our taxpayer dollars into projects and relationships that are unique and beneficial to the communities we serve. There is no threat of litigation; the district is simply responding to the requests of our parents to strive for more and better communication. We hope to work with the City and the parents to satisfy what are sometimes varied priorities and we believe our request meets the criteria for the additional variance.