Story Map brings together a Texas community to pass a public school requirement

A community group used the Kids First Allen Story Map Journal as part of a campaign to spur a $272 million school attendance measure for the Allen Independent School District (AISD) in suburban Dallas to Allen, TX.

Created using the Esri Story Map Journal app, the Kids First Allen Story Map Journal has been integrated into the Kids First Allen organization’s website. He helped educate voters on why compulsory education was needed, school building plans, and potential tax implications. The Story Map Journal was also used for nearly 40 live presentations at various meetings throughout the district and was part of a direct marketing campaign to get the vote.

The school bond measure was passed by an overwhelming majority on November 3, 2015, with the approval of 75.7% of voters.

Esri partner Datastory Consulting created the Story Map at the request of David Hicks, owner of David Hicks Company, a commercial real estate brokerage and development services firm in Allen. Hicks is a strong supporter of the Allen School System and a member of Kids First Allen, a community organization that campaigned for the bond measure.

“Creating a Story Map allowed us to share a lot of information with a huge number of people and rally the community around their local schools,” Hicks said.

Interactive maps in the Story Map showed, for example, where a new science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) center would be built at Allen High School and the general location of a future elementary school. Short videos have also been integrated into the Story Map Journal. A video gave voters a glimpse of the school district’s rapid growth in student enrollment over the past 20 years and promised no tax rate increases to fund the new obligations. The other video explained the meaning of STEM education and how it emphasizes skills such as problem solving, communication, research, critical thinking, collaboration and creativity.

Hicks credits the Story Map Journal for helping make it clear to voters the importance of passing the bond measure, which at $272 million was the largest bond to date in the district. “Our Story Map made the information easier to understand, especially for such a complex link,” Hicks said. “We were able to help organize the ideas and tell a content-rich story.”

AISD will use the bond money to expand facilities and improve programs in a growing region. Student enrollment, which has doubled since 1989, currently stands at 20,780 and is expected to increase by 2.25% over the next five years. This is three times the national average. The link will help AISD grow to meet this demand and help prepare children for college and 21st century careers by building a STEM center that will serve up to 2,000 students every day.

The Power of Story Maps

Esri Story Map apps, including Story Map Journal, Story Map Tour, Story Map Series, help organize complex ideas in meaningful and engaging ways because Story Maps provide interactive access to data through the lens of a map . Viewers of the Kids First Allen Story Map can scroll through information and see on a map exactly what is on offer for the school district, and where.

The number of families living in Allen, Texas will increase by nearly 3,000 over the next five years.

Hicks chose the Story Map Journal format because it’s easy for everyone to navigate and gives viewers a way to navigate through information in a logical way. When viewers read news, they can click on the hypertext text for more details while maintaining the context of the larger story. For example, viewers can better understand why a new elementary school is needed when they see on a map that the fastest growing areas of the district currently lack schools.

The bond measure will finance the construction of a new primary school.
The bond measure will finance the construction of a new primary school.

The Kids First Allen Story Map Journal maps the location of facilities where construction is planned, such as the Lowery Freshman Center, Allen High School and a new elementary school. Pop-ups on the maps list exactly what type of work will be done at each location. For example, Allen High School will get an 11,000 square foot addition for use by the orchestra, band and percussion groups.

The Kids First Allen Story Map Journal provided important facts to the community. Citizen information is important, especially as communities develop plans for the future and seek citizen input into the development and approval of those plans.

Listen to a podcast with Hicks discussing the Kids First Allen project with Karen Jagoda on

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