There are many problems with the 2015 Dallas ISD Bond Program that demand a "No" vote. Problems were first exposed with the first presentation to the DISD Board on 7-22-15 that is documented here. At that meeting some of the most basic documentation was missing related to meeting minutes, attendance by the public, and the sources for the plans being presented.
This is where a comparison of the 2015 Bond planning with the 2008 Bond planning should be made, and here is a very painful comparison of those differences: http://disdbond2015.com/2008-bond-vs-2015-bond/
As the 2015 Bond Plans were exposed many members of the DISD community, especially parents in schools to be closed, became angry. Here is one of those meetings in response to this anger with DISD.
Those specific school closing plans have now allegedly been changed. But multiple questions remain!
Where is DISD going to get students for the new 1,500 student Pk-8 school they are still planning to build in West Dallas without closing other schools?
When you ask about the sources for these plans it is repeatedly said they come from the Future Facilities Task Force, members listed here. The members of that Task Force say they never voted on these plans as a group. Apparently there are no minutes available documenting Task Force meetings. The Task Force also held many other public meetings allegedly seeking input, but there are no minutes or listings of the people who attended those meetings either. Again, there are no records. The bottom line is that it appears as if all plans came from DISD staff at 3700 Ross, or from other unnamed community sources.
One by one additional more specific bond planning concerns emerged. Links below provide more details about each of these areas of concern in the 2015 Bond Program:
1) The plans for the closing of all elementary schools east of Hampton Road in West Dallas were stopped due to the public uproar. Nobody would admit to making those plans but they were in writing in official Future Facilities Task Force Documents. See plans for Pinkston Feeder Pattern dated 8-5-15, on page 12 of 23. You must download the document titled
"Updated Facilities Planning Matrix by Feeder Pattern
| 8/5/2015 (Old)" to find this page.
2) Plans for the rebuilding of Rosemont remain on the books. This is in spite of multiple conflicts due to the relatively good condition of this building compared to hundreds of others within DISD according to the Parson's Report, the 2013 report allegedly guiding the planned work on school buildings. Again, see the details to this issue about Rosemont here. Here is a graphic that demonstrates a pattern too common in all of DISD for this election, but this is for only District 7 where Rosemont is:
3) DISD enrollment is falling faster than at any time in a decade. It is now over 3,000 students below budgeted enrollment for 2015/16. The massive drop in student achievement over the past two years, due to educational "top-down" mismanagement repeatedly documented by hundreds of teachers as over 6,500 teachers and other professionals left DISD, cannot be ignored. IT is a major reason for this drop in enrollment.
4) While the benefits of the transition of Pk-5 schools into being Pk-8 schools are verbally accepted in DISD Administration, there is too little focus on educating DISD parents of the values of such a re-configuration, and too little focus in the 2015 bond program on this remedy to multiple DISD problems. The 2015 bond program is even investing tens of millions of dollars to add more classrooms to existing middle schools in spite of the evidence of nationwide patterns of problems due to separate middle school configurations such as those that dominate DISD. These same problems documented nationwide are also well documented in DISD. They are a major contributor to the student achievement problems in DISD.
5) Efforts were made to try and create documentation to indicate that DISD families wanted "choice" schools often far from their homes. But, even now less than 15% of choice schools inside DISD are full. Here is listing of all "choice" schools in DISD. Notice that ONLY two of them are at or over 100% utilized.
The 2015 Bond wants to invest tens of millions of dollars into more "choice schools" instead of improvements to neighborhood schools, even when current "choice schools" are rarely full. Click here for details of a questionnaire circulated in September of 2014.
Can Dallas ISD voters ignore these and many other facts?
The DISD 2015 Bond Election will happen November 3, 2015. Please vote against it.
Tell your trustees that you want a more public, well planned and efficient bond program in May 2016. Early voting for the current 2015 Bond Election starts this week.
A bond election is certainly needed to repair the many DISD school buildings needing such repair, but the above evidence of the planning that happened to date leaves great concerns about the currently planned use of the relatively meager funds DISD will have. It is better to plan well, with ample transparency and true public input that is recorded and used, than to push forward with the currently vague plans from uncertain sources.
It appears that most of these plans grew out of three years of very destructive and questionable DISD management when over 6,500 professional staff left and student achievement fell within just the last two years to levels not seen since 2007!
The 2015 Bond Program has transparency problems that were overwhelmingly evident at the 7-22-15 board meeting, documented here. Public trust must be restored with ample transparency so that a well planned and truly transparent bond program can pass in May 2016! Our students need it!
Top-down DISD school management has been destructive for DISD these past 3 years. Top-down Bond Planning is just as destructive!
========================================These Dallas ISD 2016 Bond pages will change as more information is available. Once the 2015 Bond is defeated these pages will focus on the replacement of three trustees who helped the disaster of the past three years be inflicted on our students. It will be very good that a better planned bond and these three elections will be happening at the same time. Dallas will for once see some real progress in securing leadership that is more focused on students than on those supplying massive amounts of money for political campaigns.
Until then, study the official DISD Bond pages carefully at
http://www.dallasisd.org/bond2015. Also attend the public meetings about the bond that are scheduled and posted on this link to the Dallas Morning News web site. Then vote!
Report any errors in the documentation above to Bill Betzen at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions are welcomed.
An additional web site that has collected a good set of facts regarding this 2015 Bond Plan is at http://disdbond2015.com/.
In summary, as of 10-17-15 here are the questions that remain regarding the 2015 DISD Bond Program:
- In 2002 and 2008 the bond planning committee had meeting minutes and attendance records taken and specific recommendations they voted on. Why was the 2015 Future Facilities Task Force started under Mike Miles allowed to operate with no minutes, no recorded affirmation of votes taken for the bond plan components, and virtually no record of the specific process and the details and sources for their recommendations? Why do members say that they did not vote on the 2015 Plan?
- How is DISD going to fill a new 1,500 student Pk-8 school that is still on the public 2015 Bond Plans for West Dallas without closing any West Dallas elementary schools, as was also been publicly promised?
- How is DISD following the priorities outlined in the 2013 Parsons Report by ignoring Facility Condition Index (FCI) measurements to spend $41 million to tear down and rebuild Rosemont, a school listed in “good” condition (11.74% FCI), and in better condition than 96 other DISD elementary schools, 25 middle schools, and 21 high schools? Should the FCI scores be ignored to this extent?
- Why is not a fraction of the $41 million allocated to tear down and rebuild Rosemont being used to correct the problems at Rosemont, and restore this historic treasure as identified by Preservation Dallas? Then the remainder of the $41 million could be used to help build middle school facilities for other Pk-5 schools where parents want to transform their child’s school into a Pk-8 school! Could that not take the enrollment pressure off Rosemont, and serve as many as three times the students with the same $41 million?
- Since less than 15% of “choice schools” in DISD are currently filled to capacity, how does DISD know there is a need for more such “choice” schools? Choice schools are more expensive per student and DISD parents are apparently showing that they prefer their own neighborhood school if it is getting the needed attention to keep it up to date.
- Since the first Pk-8 transition school is filled to capacity, and turning away students due to their open enrollment policy, and it is the highest rated non-magnet school in all of DISD, why aren’t DISD staff meeting with parents at other DISD schools to advise them of Pk-8 alternatives so the parents could decide if they want such a transition for their schools?
- Why isn’t the focus of the 2015 Bond Program on neighborhood community Pk-8 schools instead of the much more expensive and less in demand “choice” schools? Pk-8 schools are generally better supported by research as being very successful and are less expensive per student than “choice” schools.
- Since the increase in Pre-k enrollment at DISD has been less than 350 students over the past two years, less than 2% each year, and this year alone DISD has suffered over a 1,100 decrease in Kindergarten enrollment, over an 8% decrease below any year in 18 years, why is there urgency to create new Pre-k classrooms? Since Kindergarten enrollment went down this year over 300% more than Pre-k enrollment went up, where is the urgency for Pre-K in 2015 Bond?
- When the general decline in DISD enrollment for students younger than second graders is mentioned, some say there are severe pockets of need that still demand the 2015 Bond moneys for Pre-k space. Where are those schools?
- Total DISD enrollment is now down over 3,000 students below projected enrollment! If this decline continues, what corrections will be needed for the 2015 Bond and who will identify them that Dallas can trust?
Bill Betzen, email@example.com, www.Dallasisd2016bond.com