Saturday, September 19, 2015

The 2015 DISD Bond Program & replacing Rosemont

The 2015 Dallas ISD Bond Program has encountered several problems that are slowly adding up. The first was the planned closing of all DISD elementary schools east of Hampton in West Dallas.  See those events recorded here.

The 2015 Bond plans to replace Rosemont are out of place when you study the Parsons Report that was completed in 2013 on all DISD schools, studying the condition of all DISD buildings and giving a numeric value to the need for replacement called the Facility Condition Index or the FCI.  The average FCI for all buildings in DISD was 22.1% indicating that half of all DISD schools and buildings are above that and in worse condition. Rosemont has an FCI of only 11.74%, or about half the FCI of the average DISD building.

The following two pages were taken from a 6 page spreadsheet on the Facility Condition Index for all of the buildings in DISD.  The first three pages were on the elementary school buildings.  Here are the first two of those pages listing the buildings from those in "poor" condition (pink), to those in "fair" condition (yellow), and finally to those in "good" condition (green), which is where Rosemont is listed.

The FCI score is a percentage of the buildings cost that is needed to put it in "as new" condition. These scores are all recorded in the Parsons Report that is located here online.

Rosemont has one of the lowest scores in DISD with 96 elementary schools with higher/worse scores than Rosemont.  The only other elementary schools being replaced in this bond election have FCI scores all over 37%!  Rosemont is only at 11.74%!  I have asked many Futures Facility Task Force members why Rosemont was chosen for destruction and replacement and have yet to receive an good answer.

Yes, improvements are needed to the Rosemont building to help it better meet the needs of students and teachers, but that could be done without spending $41 million to replace a building in good condition when improvements are so much more urgently needed in over a hundred other elementary, middle and high schools in DISD in worse shape!  Is the relative affluence and high voter turnout of a large segments of the Rosemont feeder pattern a factor, along with the fact that the DISD Board President's child attends Rosemont?

The painful bottom line is that Rosemont is a wonderful success with their dual language two-way Spanish-English program and their transition into being a Pk-8 school.  They received the highest awards available from TEA this year for their middle school, and were the only non-magnet middle school in DISD to receive those honors.  They are also very popular with parents and have 41% of their students from outside their attendance zone.  They have a lottery for those outside of their attendance zone.  DISD must spread that success!  

With the $41 million planned for spending on tearing down this 1922 Historic Building, which Preservation Dallas wants to save, and has on their 2015 Most Endangered List, linked here, DISD could transition three other Pk-5 schools in the area into being Pk-8 schools.   The success of Rosemont could spread!  The enrollment pressure on Rosemont could be lessened.  This is a much more reasonable alternative for the limited funds that Dallas ISD will have in this $1.6 billion 2015 Bond Election.

The passage of the bond election this November is endangered due to decisions like this that are being blamed on the Future Facilities Task Force, but I am beginning to think were decisions made by DISD staff instead.  The search for the logic behind it is continuing.

Why is DISD not seeking to serve thousands of more students with scarce bond funds rather than replacing one historic building in "good" condition but with overcrowding that could be quickly eliminated by upgrading several neighborhood schools to have similar Pk-8 programs?  This could all be done to several area schools with the same $41 million now planned for removing and replacing only the historic part of the Rosemont campus.   Other much less expensive modifications could be done to that building to achieve changes that are needed and at the same time save the historic reality of a 1922 building, and serve thousands of more students with the money saved in the process.